Sunday night’s game at Target Center had it all.

Emotion. Celebration. Record-breaking performances. A comeback victory. And even more emotion.

But the one thing – and one person – that stood at the forefront of it all: Vintage Lindsay Whalen.

On a night that was dedicated to celebrating the Minnesota-native Whalen in her final regular season home game of her career, No. 13 helped lead the charge in the Lynx completing a comeback and taking down the Washington Mystics 88-83 in front of a fitting number of 13,013 fans at Target Center.

The Lynx, who trailed by two points heading into the fourth and final quarter of a back-and-forth contest with the Mystics, took the lead for good with just over eight minutes to go when – you guessed it – Whalen hit a go-ahead 3-pointer to give Minnesota a 70-69 lead.

A few minutes later, Whalen made a vintage “Whalen assist” that added to her assist total, diving on the floor to pass to Temi Fagbenle who made a shot while the shot clock was expiring.

From that point on, the Lynx didn’t look back as it cruised to a 23-16 advantage in the fourth quarter to complete the comeback victory.

“That’s the way we hoped we’d end it for her, Lindsay Whalen’s last game at Target Center,” Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve said after the game. “I loved her game today. Ten points, five rebounds, six assists, four steals. I’m just so happy for her and everything we as we had hoped as far as winning the game, Lindsay playing well and enjoying it, her fans getting to enjoy her and just a lot of good things for us today.”

In addition to her strong numbers across the board, Whalen — who got the start at point guard — surpassed the 500 career steal mark as well.

“We wanted to get a win going into the playoffs, but most importantly it’s Whay Day,” Seimone Augustus said. “Whay is the winningest player in this league, so we wanted to send her off the right way into the playoffs.”

Sylvia Fowles led the way for Minnesota, finishing with a double-double of 26 points and 14 rebounds. Her 14 rebounds marked 404 on the season, setting a new single-season record previously held by Jonquel Jones (403).

“(The rebounding record) means nothing. Nothing today, maybe tomorrow. Talk to me about it tomorrow, today is all about (Whalen),” Fowles said. “I’m just happy I had the type of performance that I had that it was all about her. I dedicate everything to (Whalen).”

Maya Moore added 16 points and two rebounds for Minnesota, with Cecilia Zandalasini adding 12 points and three rebounds, Augustus finishing with 10 points and five assists and Fagbenle grabbing 10 points and three assists.

Leading the way for Washington was Kristi Toliver with 17 points and four assists. Elena Delle Donne added 11 points and five rebounds, while Ariel Atkins and Monique Currie each finished with seven points for the Mystics.

“It was kind of one of those games. The game itself, it was totally separate to me in the sense that we knew at halftime that Atlanta had won so we played the game different in the second half,” said Washington head coach Mike Thibault, who drafted Whalen in Connecticut in 2004. “The whole thing for Lindsay for me, it was honoring a person who kind of epitomizes what we’d all like the game to be.”

With the win, the Lynx finished the 2018 regular season with a record of 18-16 overall. Minnesota heads into its eighth straight WNBA playoff appearance on Tuesday night when it takes on No. 6 Los Angeles Sparks at 9:30 p.m. at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.

On an emotional night at Target Center, the focus turns to another postseason. And the Lynx are going to need more performances from Whalen like they got on Sunday night to be able to return back home once again in the playoffs.

“We need her. We need her to play like that,” Reeve said. “I think you saw a player today that just wanted to go out there and have fun. If we are going to do anything in the playoffs, Lindsay is going to be a part of it.”


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