With the WNBA regular season nearing an end, the Minnesota Lynx and the rest of the league are hitting a critical point in the 2019 season.
With some teams starting to pull away and create some breathing room in the league standings, that hasn’t really been the case for the Lynx with a half-dozen games remaining in the regular-season schedule.
The first big test for the four-time WNBA champions came over the weekend when Minnesota fell to the Seattle Storm on the road at Alaska Airlines Arena.
With the loss, the Lynx weren’t able to overtake the No. 6 seed and make a jump in the standings, instead falling down to the eighth spot in the playoff picture.
On Tuesday night in Los Angeles, the disappointment continued for Minnesota when it remained on the road to face its rival the Los Angeles Sparks at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Following a big second quarter by former Lynx guard Alexis Jones and the Sparks that allowed them to lead by as many as 17 points at halftime, Los Angeles jumped out to an early advantage, led by as many as 30 points in the game and didn’t let up to take down Minnesota in an 81-71 victory.
In the game, Jones finished with 15 points off the bench, Candace Parker had a team-best 20 points and 10 rebounds and Chelsea Gray contributed 17 points for Los Angeles.
For Minnesota, Lexie Brown finished with a team-best 20 points and three rebounds off the bench. Napheesa Collier tallied 14 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals, Temi Fagbenle had 10 points and three rebounds, Sylvia Fowles had eight points and seven rebounds for the Lynx.
Following the loss to the Sparks, who have managed to continue to hold onto the No. 4 seed in the WNBA standings, the Lynx have now lost three straight games and remain at the bottom of the postseason seeding during a very important point in the year.
The Lynx, who are 3-7 in their last 10 games, dropped to 13-15 on the year with the defeat in Los Angeles and trail the Phoenix Mercury and the No. 7 seed by a half-game.
The big thing for Minnesota during this rough stretch and during the losing streak in general has really been it allowing opponents to go off in one quarter throughout the game.
In all three of their losses in the last three contests, the Lynx have managed to put together three solid quarters for the most part while just allowing their opponent to either jump out to a sizable lead or climb back into the game during one 10-minute span. Something Minnesota head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve has talked publicly about recently.
Against Washington on Aug. 16, it was the fourth quarter where the Mystics were able to outscore the Lynx 30-17 to make a late-game comeback.
In the loss against Seattle last Sunday, it was the opening quarter where the Storm outscored Minnesota 21-14 and held it ice cold from the field in the first to grab early control of the game.
And once again on Tuesday night against Los Angeles, Minnesota allowed the Sparks to go off in the second quarter to take the game out of reach in the opening 20 minutes of action.
There are of course other issues the the Lynx are dealing with outside of just allowing their opponents to go off in a 10-minute quarter that feed into the overall problems they are facing as of late, and Minnesota appears to be close to figuring out how to put together a complete 40-minute performance.
Now it’s about getting over the hump and getting back on track before the playoffs begin.
With six games remaining in their regular season schedule, the Lynx still have the ability to make a climb in the standings and in the postseason picture prior to September.
But right now, they have officially hit a rough patch at one of the most crucial times of the season. Something that will need to change quickly if Minnesota hopes to gain momentum going into the playoffs.