For the most part so far in the 2019 WNBA regular season, the Minnesota Lynx have been one of the top defensive teams in the league, coming into the game with the second-best defensive rating behind only the Las Vegas Aces.
But on Wednesday night at Target Center, the Seattle Storm had their way offensively basically from the opening tip-off.
The Storm lit it up from the field to take down the Lynx on their home floor, holding off a late fourth-quarter comeback attempt to take the game 90-79 in downtown Minneapolis.
“I don’t like getting out-competed, that’s unacceptable. Not in your own gym, getting run out on your own floor,” Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said after the game. “I do appreciate when we had that stretch when we got back in it and cut it to one. … We just couldn’t get over the hump.”
To kick off the game in Minneapolis, Seattle opened the first quarter red hot from the field to jump out to a large lead early on.
The Storm, who finished shooting 52.6 percent in the opening frame, ended up taking a 26-16 advantage into the second quarter. The Lynx, on the other hand, were ice cold to start the game, shooting just 30 percent in the opening 10 minutes.
To round out the first half, the second quarter began much like the first did for Seattle. The Storm finished shooting an impressive 54.3 percent from the field, including making seven 3s, to carry a 50-40 lead into halftime.
Minnesota, which trailed by as much as 15 points in the first half, combated that by shooting 39 percent from the field with just two 3s.
“It’s very frustrating,” Sylvia Fowles said after the game. “You have a gameplan and you go out there and work on things and you don’t get it done. That’s quite a bit frustrating.”
In the second half, it was the same story from the first two quarters at Target Center. The Storm broke things open for good in the third quarter, out-scoring the Lynx 21-14 in the frame and even held a 21-point advantage midway through the quarter.
In the final 10 minutes, however, Minnesota quickly turned things around to make things interesting while nearly completing an impressive comeback.
The Lynx went on a massive run out of the gate and outscored the Storm 21-7 in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, cutting things down to a one-point game with three minutes remaining. The Storm were ultimately able to hold Minnesota off in the end to come away with the victory.
“They just came out and punched us the whole first half. We didn’t battle until the second half, so that’s unfortunate,” Danielle Robinson said. “They literally got whatever they wanted. … We just didn’t come out and execute the gameplan from the beginning.”
To say that the Storm had a stellar offensive performance would be an understatement. Seattle, which seemed to dominate nearly aspect of the game over Minnesota, shot 53.2 percent from the field and made a total of 12 3s in the win.
Former Lynx forward Natasha Howard led the way for the Storm, finishing with a career-high 33 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Sami Whitcomb added 15 points and eight assists, while Alysha Clark and Jordin Canada each had 12 points a piece.
“We didn’t get anything done defensively,” Reeve said. “If you were in our shootaround and listened to what the gameplan was and then you watched us play, it just wasn’t very good.”
Lexie Brown had a nice night off the bench to pace the way for Minnesota, which ended up shooting 42.1 percent from the field. Brown tallied a team-best 20 points in 26-plus minutes, making four 3s.
Behind Brown, Fowles tallied 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists, Robinson had a double-double of 14 points, 10 assists and five rebounds, Stephanie Talbot added 10 points and five rebounds and Napheesa Collier had eight points, four rebounds and three assists.
“We’re our best when we are in transition and when they are scoring like they were, we’re not able to play at our pace,” Robinson said. “We couldn’t get the easy looks that we normally get, so that was a bit of a stumble as well. Our defense turns into offense, so when we aren’t executing on that end it slows down our pace a little bit.”
With two games left remaining before the All-Star break later this month, Minnesota looks to bounce back when it hits the road for a one-game road trip against the Las Vegas Aces at 5 p.m. on Sunday. The Lynx will head into the break after hosting the Washington Mystics at noon next Wednesday back at home in Minneapolis.