For all of the Lynx comebacks on Wednesday, and for all the bounces Sylvia Fowles had, here’s the number Lynx fans should be paying the most attention to:
In a physical 84-76 home-and-away loss to the Atlanta Dream that at 6-3 was one of the WNBA’s surprises this season, Lynx couldn’t take care of the ball.
They have turned the ball to the highest level of the season 26 times. In a match that was decided by eight points, Dream had a 23-13 lead on points.
“The crazy thing is, if you look at the team stats, the dream is with us in forcing the inversion,” said Lynx coach Sheryl Reeve. “It’s not like it’s their job to be defensive. It’s a team that doesn’t impose transitions. That was definitely the match.”
It was a difficult and agonizing loss that made Reeve shake her head at the session. For example: Kristi Wallace hit Jessica Shepherd in the nose, breaking her, in the third quarter, taking two free throws. This was Minnesota’s second broken nose in as many games after the Aerial Powers’ broken nose on Sunday.
Later, Kayla McBride was knocked over and suffered a quadruple bruise on a clearly illegal screen on a Kia Vaughn that had no cause.
“We are still trying to find our flow and rhythm when attacking. That might be part of it. But there are no excuses for so many transformations.”
But the Lynx (2-8) showed that it could take a punch. With a drop of 15 in the second quarter, they went up to snatch two leads by one point in the third quarter. But a 10-3 lead to finish the third quarter and a shaky start to the fourth put Lynx down 10 before the fourth quarter hit two minutes.
Given the Lynx’s injury-ridden backcountry condition and the resulting ups and downs, it was too much to beat one night when WNBA Rookie of the Year Rhyne Howard scored 22 points for Atlanta. Wallace scored 18 points and Ari MacDonald 13 points and seven shots.
“I mean, that’s the story for Lynx now,” said McBride, who scored 20 points with five rebounds. “We’re still trying to find our flow and cadence when attacking. That might be part of it. But there are no excuses for so many shifts. We know that. We want to fix it.”
The fact that the Lynx back area was a revolving door wouldn’t make that easy. Kamiyah Smalls, one of the team’s most recent signings – the other was Elisa Konan – met the team in Atlanta and had one run before playing 15 minutes after Rachel Banham had an early problem. Smalls fills in for Moriah Jefferson, who could miss two weeks with a quad injury.
But there is no doubt that the spins made it more difficult than usual to get the ball to Fowles, who hit the ball only nine times. She scored seven points and scored 16 to hit 20 rebounds.
And the transformations made the final comeback difficult.
Reeve bemoaned Atlanta’s 10-0 run that collapsed into a tie late in the third quarter.
Dream scored most of his attack with shots from the middle range and three throws (12 vs. 28).
The main play may have come less than four minutes ago. Lynx was four when MacDonald missed three. Lynx looked poised to get the rebound, but the ball bounced back to dream. It was a score of three from Erica Wheeler that may have decided the match.
But the main story was transformations. “When you flip it a lot, when you’re taking shots that aren’t good, and you’re always on transition defense, that makes it difficult,” Reeve said.
The Star Tribune did not travel to attend this event. This article was written using television broadcasts and video interviews before and/or after the event.