Just five short days ago, the Minnesota Lynx lost by 23 points to the Washington Mystics on the road. Cheryl Reeve had not forgotten, saying before Friday’s game that her team “didn’t show up.” Limiting their turnovers and forcing the Mystics to take fewer 3-pointers were high on the priority list for the rematch.
The good news is that the Lynx showed up despite the 86-79 loss. Emma Meesseman reprised her dominant bench performance, following up Sunday’s 25 points in 27 minutes with another 17 points on eight shots. Four of the five Mystics starters scored at least 13 points.
What we saw from the Lynx was a significant improvement from Sunday, leading the game for 3.5 quarters before the Mystics wore down their opponent. However, the Lynx fought until the end. Napheesa Collier‘s stepback 3-pointer with 31.8 seconds remaining brought the Lynx back within four before the Mystics got those points back.
Early in the game, Collier seemed like the unlikely hero. After 20 minutes, she had just two rebounds, two assists, and zero points on 0-for-1 shooting. Although Collier’s team held a narrow lead at halftime, they could have used more from her.
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In Collier’s defense, she and a couple of other teammates were plagued by foul trouble. Most players play more cautiously once they pick up too many early fouls. Yet, Collier was 4-for-4 from the field to create nine points while grabbing six points. Besides, she was a plus-4 despite picking up her third and fourth fouls.
For the night, Collier finished with an efficient 13 points, nine rebounds, and two assists despite playing with five fouls. How many players do you see them improve their play and aggressiveness while accruing fouls?
“I realized going in [to the second half] I wasn’t doing anything to help the team. I don’t think I had any rebounds or anything like that,” said Collier. “I just came in and tried to be more aggressive and not worry about the fouls.”
“I thought she realized there was pressure on our guards and there were openings. There were openings in terms of when you’re pressuring out to a wing and she just saw that and she had some attacks on the rim,” said Reeve. “Thought she had a couple of rebounds, she turned it up a little bit. That’s who she is. She didn’t necessarily do that early in the game. She’s somebody who has a good feel for what’s happening and what needs to happen and I think she saw some openings for herself.”
Thankfully Collier did get it going in the second half because the Mystics may have regained the lead earlier than they did. Despite her slow start, Collier finished as one of five Lynx players to score in double figures.
While one of the Lynx’s goals heading into Friday night was to be in this game, that was the only one they met. The Lynx also aimed to limit their turnovers and Mystics 3-pointers.
Turnovers were a common problem early in the Lynx’s season and the team added 19 on Friday. Having nearly 20 turnovers is one thing but giving up 23 points off of those turnovers only compounds the problem. There wasn’t one half that was more problematic than the other, with 10 turnovers coming in the first and nine more in the second. Turnovers kept the Mystics in the game and prevented the Lynx from pulling away.
The Mystics also made 12 3-pointers on the night, including 7-for-12 in the second half. Reeve admitted that her team has a hard time keeping up with a team that makes so many 3-pointers in a game. The Lynx did attempt to keep pace from beyond the arc in the second half but shot just 2-for-9 from 3-point range.
There will be little time for the Lynx to dwell on the one that got away as they head to Seattle to play the Storm on Sunday.
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