I like the Minnesota Lynx but will never claim to understand them.
After losing a close one to the Seattle Storm on July 17th, I let myself get excited about this team again or, as a friend suggested, refused to simply let go of my pre-season expectations for this team: I suggested that the following three home games against the San Anotonio Silver Stars, Phoenix Mercury, and Los Angeles Sparks could be a good barometer for whether the Lynx could move into second place.
Of course, they went on to lose all three games and then went to Phoenix and got blown out for a fourth loss in a row for good measure.
So I finally let go.
Then they beat the Storm.
Lynx statistical MVP: Seimone Augustus
Obviously, Augustus stands out in the boxscore for scoring a game-high 24 points on 11-19 shooting. However, what never ceases to amaze me about Augustus is her mid-range shooting ability.
Storm statistical MVP: Sue Bird
With Jackson playing through a strained right thumb, Bird picked up the slack with 16 points on 7-14 shooting -- including a 2 point percentage of 71.42 -- and 10 assists. Again, her passing numbers were outstanding: an assist rate of 38.46% and turnover percentage of 7.69% that resulted in a pure point rating of 12.96.
Key player: Nicky Anosike
Although she played only 16 minutes in her first game coming off the bench this season, Anosike was huge on the offensive boards collecting a game-high 4 for an offensive rebounding percentage of 34.31%. Although she didn't do a lot of scoring, she also hit the game-winning free throw and had a free throw rate of 66.66%.
Key stat: free throw rate
This game was something of an rarity because by MEV, the Storm actually "outplayed" the Lynx despite losing the game by one. There are lots of reasons why that can happen, chief among them that the Storm beat the Lynx in multiple statistical categories and pretty badly in offensive rebounding. Where the Lynx won this game both literally and in terms of four factors was at the free throw line.
The Lynx had a free throw rate 33.33% to the Storm's 19.35%, with 20 attempts to the Storm's 12. Perhaps most significant is the performance of Charde Houston, who was a more efficient scorer than usual due to getting to the line 6 times and hitting 5.
Of course, the first impulse of saddened fans is to look at these free throw numbers..at home...and look squarely at the officiating. Then again, as Bird commented after the game, they're good enough not to be in these situations.
For more reaction to the game, visit SBN Seattle.