After suffering an ugly loss on the road in Atlanta on Friday, the Minnesota Lynx returned to their winning ways on Sunday night in Minneapolis.
Led by Sylvia Fowles’ record-breaking night, the Lynx took down the Phoenix Mercury 75-62 at Target Center to secure their sixth win in the last eight games.
“We had a bad taste in our mouths with that Atlanta game, so it was good to turn around and play pretty quickly and win a home game. That’s what we talked about, we have to collect those W’s at home,” Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve told the media after the game.
With the win, the Minnesota moved to 10-7 on the year and are now tied with the Washington Mystics (9-6) for third place in the WNBA standings. Minnesota sits 1.5 games back of the Las Vegas Aces and the top spot in the standings.
Along with the victory, Fowles continued to add to her stellar start to the 2019 season. In the third quarter on Sunday, Fowles recorded her 158th career double-double, surpassing Lisa Leslie for the most double-doubles in WNBA history. She finished the game with 14 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks.
“When you beat Lisa Leslie, there’s nothing better than that. To beat an LA Spark to be number one. (Leslie) is my favorite LA Spark, so it was awesome.” Reeve said post-game. “Credit to Syl for an amazing career. … She’s just incredible and she’s relentless.
“She just finds a way. I’m really proud of her and am really thankful to be a part of so many double-doubles of that big number.”
To open the game in Minneapolis, the Lynx got off to a hot start right out of the gate and really didn’t look back for the remainder of the game. Minnesota ended up opening up the contest with a 23-19 lead after the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Phoenix battled back into the game while holding a 16-13 advantage in the frame to cut Minnesota’s lead down to 36-35 going into halftime.
Out of halftime, the Lynx began to pull away from the Mercury. While scoring 20 points in the third quarter, Minnesota was able to hold Phoenix to just 11 points in the 10-minute span to grab a 56-46 lead going into the fourth.
The Lynx were ultimately able to coast for the rest of the game, not allowing the Mercury to dig into the lead to come away with the win.
Minnesota, which ended up shooting 42.7 percent from the field and outrebounded Phoenix 48-24 in the contest, saw a nice spread of performances out of its entire starting five.
Behind Fowles’ record-breaking double-double, Napheesa Collier recorded her first career double-double with 14 points, 11 rebounds and three steals. Odyssey Sims finished with a team-best 15 points and five rebounds, Danielle Robinson had 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists and Stephanie Talbot tallied 13 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Temi Fagbenle, who officially returned to the team on Saturday just in time for Sunday’s game, completed her 2019 WNBA debut with two points, four rebounds and two assists in just over 22 minutes of action. She finished with a game-best plus/minus of plus-19.
After going off for 25 points in the first matchup against the Lynx at Target Center in June, Mercury forward DeWanna Bonner finished with 27 points and seven rebounds to lead Phoenix. She tallied 22 points in the opening half, but was held to just five points for the remainder of the game.
Behind Bonner, Brittney Griner finished with 12 points and five rebounds and Leilani Mitchell added nine points, five assists and four rebounds for the Mercury, which was held to shooting just 38.7 percent in the loss.
Minnesota wraps up its current two-game homestand on Wednesday night when it hosts the Seattle Storm at 7 p.m. back at Target Center. The game will be televised on Fox Sports North, NBA TV and NBA TV Canada.
“We fight. It’s not always pretty, we go through tough stretches at times, but I think we are pretty resilient,” Reeve said. “We are very comfortable in what needs to happen and when. Winning at home is big and that road trip we just came off of was a pretty big road trip.
“We are just understanding what it takes to win and staying connected as a group through difficult times.”
Lynx Waive Alaina Coates
Prior to tip-off on Sunday night, the Lynx announced that they waived center Alaina Coates.
The waiving of Coates opens up a roster spot for Minnesota, which Reeve told the media pre-game will likely be claimed by Cecilia Zandalasini once she recovers from an ankle injury. Zandalasini had been finishing up playing overseas during the start of the WNBA regular season.
Coates appeared in a total of 14 games for Minnesota this season, averaging 2.5 points, 2.4 rebounds and 0.3 blocks in 6.5 minutes per game. She served primarily as the backup to Fowles in the post, but that role will now be filled by Fagbenle for the remainder of the season.