After putting on an impressive performance in the season-opening win over a young Chicago Sky team on Saturday at Target Center, the Minnesota Lynx had a bit of a tougher test on Wednesday night in downtown Minneapolis.
With the defending champions Seattle Storm coming to town in the second game of the regular season, the Lynx came into the contest after head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve publicly noted how the team hasn’t practiced well so far this season, worrying whether or not it would start to carry into their games.
Whatever went wrong in practice heading into Wednesday’s game, Minnesota overcame it enough to take down the 2018 WNBA Champions 72-61 in front of an announced attendance of 8,092 at Target Center to win its second straight game to open the year.
“On a night like tonight when I didn’t think we were our best, we win a game and you are always happy when you get a W, especially in your home games when you don’t play your best,” Reeve said after the game.
The Lynx jumped out to an early lead over the Storm in the opening quarter and didn’t look back. Minnesota held a 22-9 advantage after the first frame, holding an opponent to single-digit scoring in a quarter for the first time since it held Dallas to four points in 2018.
After struggling in the first portion of the second quarter, Minnesota went into halftime rolling. The Lynx finished the first half on a strong note to hold a 39-24 advantage going into the break. They concluded the first half by shooting 45.5 percent from the field, holding Seattle to 30.3 percent shooting and no 3s.
Out of halftime, it continued to be all Minnesota for the remainder of the game. The Lynx outscored the Storm 22-20 in the third quarter before being outscored 17-11 in the fourth quarter, yet still coasting to the win.
Odyssey Sims led the way for the Lynx, finishing with an all-around performance of 15 points, five assists and four rebounds in her second straight start.
“I’m just here to do whatever Cheryl wants me to do,” Sims said. “She told me when I came in that she needed me to score on the offensive end as well as on the defensive end. That’s what I’m here for.”
Damiris Dantas tallied 12 points, five rebounds and three assists, Jessica Shepard and Lexie Brown added 10 points each off the bench, Sylvia Fowles had a near double-double of seven points and 13 rebounds, Napheesa Collier had nine points, four rebounds and four assists and Danielle Robinson tallied nine points and three assists for Minnesota.
“We had a balance to what we were doing and that’s how we are going to have to be to be successful. That’s what we envision for this team,” Reeve said. “It could be anybody’s night and could have a big night.”
Former Lynx forward Natasha Howard had team-best 18 points and five rebounds for Seattle, which falls to 1-1 on the season with the loss. Jewell Loyd added 13 points and six rebounds and both Crystal Langhorne and Jordin Canada added seven points each.
“We just stayed solid, stayed to our defensive concepts and tried to make sure we rebounded the ball. That was really it,” Sims said postgame. “We held them to a low field goal percentage and that was one of our goals. It wasn’t our best offensively, but we held them to what we wanted to on the defensive end.”
Minnesota, which was once again without Seimone Augustus and Karima Christmas-Kelly in the game with knee injuries, did a nice job of pushing the ball on offense in the win, a trend that we are seeing more of here in 2019.
Although the offense appeared sloppy at times, the Lynx did finish shooting 44.3 percent from the field, including 35.3 percent from behind the arc. They also held a 36-30 advantage in points in the paint over the Storm.
Along with finding success offensively, Minnesota looked strong on the defensive end of the floor against a potent Seattle offense. The Lynx held the Storm to 36.4 percent shooting from the field in the game, including holding them to 2-of-15 from three. Minnesota also carried a 39-23 rebounding advantage over Seattle.
“Our defense carried us. That’s two straight games holding (opponents) to under 40 percent and we are 107-3 when we do that,” Reeve said. “(The team’s) eyes were really big and I told them that’s what we do. … That’s how we got through this game tonight.”
Following Wednesday’s win, the Lynx (2-0) will hit the road for the first time this season as they begin a two-game road trip starting with a matchup against the Dallas Wings at 7 p.m. Saturday at College Park Center in Arlington, Tex.
“We have to improve. You certainly win the game and you don’t want to beat them over the head, but you also embark on a road trip and if you do this on the road, you are going to land yourself in a hornet’s nest,” Reeve added. “We just want to be better the next time we play, that’s going to be our mindset. One day at a time.”