Outshot in Westchester
Despite having one of the better records in the league entering Wednesday’s contest against the New York Liberty, the Minnesota Lynx needed to come prepared. The Liberty had a 1-4 record but had just snapped a 17-game losing streak dating back to last season. Having lifted the burden of the losing streak and then getting the luxury of facing the Lynx at home made this a potential trap game for Minnesota.
And so it was, a 75-69 loss for the Lynx.
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The Lynx began this game in the worst way possible: slowly. Every Liberty starter scored at least one basket in the first quarter, as the Liberty carried a 19-10 lead into the second quarter. In that second frame, Asia Durr exploded for 10 points as her team led 38-28 at halftime.
While the Liberty shot 48.6 percent, the Lynx’s 29.3 first-half field goal percentage was a season low. To make matters worse, the Liberty were shooting just 2-of-11 in that first half on 3-point attempts. On top of shooting, the Liberty were winning the rebounding battle. Had New York not turned the ball over eight times in that half, the Lynx’s deficit could have been even worse.
The Lynx overcame their slow start and won the third quarter 22-17. The Lynx had cut the deficit to just three points with seven minutes remaining. Thanks to defense and resurgent shooting, the Lynx had put themselves back in position to win this game.
“Gave ourselves a chance,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said following the game. “If Dantas hits that three, it’s a one-point game with a minute left.”
Unfortunately for Minnesota, Asia Durr sealed their fate down the stretch and the Liberty won 75-69.
What we learned in Westchester
To start as poorly as the Lynx did and lose what became a two-possession game is impressive. It took a season-high in shooting for a half in the second half Wednesday night to get there. Looking ahead to the Lynx’s game on Friday versus Connecticut, they need to learn from their mistakes quickly. Here are a few things the Lynx should take away from this game as they prepare for Connecticut:
- The turnovers are out of control. This is no longer just a couple of games at the start of the season. Their 19.1 turnovers per game lead the league by a wide margin. Chicago has the second-most turnovers per game at 17.8 while Las Vegas is third at 16.2 turnovers per game. These numbers come after the Lynx turned it over 21 more times on Wednesday and are now on pace to go down as one of the most turnover-prone teams in league history.
- The Lynx need more from Napheesa Collier. Let’s be realistic: Collier is a great player but will not score 27 points every night as she did against Chicago in her debut. However, Collier shot 1-for-7 for four points, three rebounds, and two assists in Wednesday’s loss. She didn’t take a single shot in the second half, either. You need more than this from a starter playing 33 minutes, especially with Seimone Augustus and Jessica Shepard out with injuries.
- Slow starts can doom you. We saw what happened when the Lynx spent two quarters trying to get their offense humming. Give the Liberty credit for their work to jump on the visitors early but having a one or two quarter shooting slump against the Sun will not end well for the Lynx. They cannot let the Sun believe they can win on the road early.
Wednesday night wound up not being a total loss for the Lynx. Sylvia Fowles posted another double-double and Odyssey Sims added 14 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Getting 12 points and seven assists from Danielle Robinson was also a boost.
Yet, when the Lynx have been at their best under Cheryl Reeve, it’s not because one or two players have a great night. The Lynx are typically at their best when the contributions come from throughout the roster, and the players will tell you that too. They also need their defense to feed their offense with quick and easy buckets, something this team is equipped to do.
“We’re going to have to look at this with more of a long-term view,” Reeve said. “There’s a lot of people figuring out how to play with other people, how to find their roles. There’s a little bit of that. There’s a little bit of, people need more focus.”
Durr and Kia Nurse had incredible performances and the Lynx were still right there at the end. Instead of using their energy to overcome deficits, the Lynx can use that energy to build leads. How the Lynx respond against the Sun on Friday will be something to watch.
Howard Megdal contributed reporting.
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