Monday Links: Chicago's Struggles Continue Despite Return Of Prince, Minnesota Clinches Playoff Berth

There were nine games in the first weekend after the WNBA's break for the 2012 London Olympics and links for all this weekend's action are organized by day below.

But no team's performance this past weekend stood out more to me than the Chicago Sky's two losses with star guard Epiphanny Prince back in action after the team lost 8 of 9 games before the break while she was injured.

Put very simply, the same primary reason that the Sky weren't a very good basketball without Prince ended up dooming them once again this weekend: turnovers. A whole mess of almost inexplicable turnovers coming from everywhere. Even if some might expect more from center Sylvia Fowles, the fact is that getting that first playoff berth is not a certainty as long as they continue turning the ball over at the rate they have regardless of who is in the lineup.

And for that reason, the Sky's 75-71 loss yesterday probably says more about them than their opponents.

  • Mark Giannotto of the Washington Post wrote that the Washington Mystics' 75-71 win over the Chicago Sky yesterday was about resilience and a defensive effort that forced the Sky into 6 points in the second quarter and 20 turnovers for the game. And as much as you want to credit the Mystics' defense for those turnovers, their turnover rate of 20% was actually below average, which speaks volumes about how much the Sky are struggling right now. Read more >>>
  • Mike Peden of Examiner.com reported that the Minnesota Lynx clinched a playoff berth yesterday with their 83-59 win over the Tulsa Shock. While Peden notes that Maya Moore continued her strong play this season with her third double-double of the season, Shock forward Glory Johnson continued her quietly productive rookie season with a third double-double of her own despite being shut down in the fourth. Read more >>>
  • Joan Niesen of Fox Sports North writes that point guard Lindsay Whalen "has entrenched herself as Minnesota basketball's it girl" independent of recording her franchise-high 498th assist as a member of the Lynx on Sunday. While Niesen notes that Whalen "destroyed" Katie Smith's previous record of 496, Whalen alludes to the fact that teammates probably play some role in an accomplishment like that. Read more >>>
  • A brief additional note on the Lynx, stemming from Alan Horton's tweet after the game about their second half defense:
    Their fourth quarter performance was outstanding.

    Wnba_tul_4thqtr_sc_medium
    The Tulsa Shock's fourth quarter shot chart vs. the Minnesota Lynx on Sunday.


    Obviously, the Shock weren't very good in the fourth quarter - they were outscored 25-7 - but the Lynx defense deserves a ton of credit for that. The Shock took just over a third of their shots in the paint, which wasn't significantly different than the rest of the game. But the Lynx also had four of their seven blocks in the fourth quarter, which caused the Shock to shoot just 1-for-7 around the basket. Even with the Shock's five offensive rebounds in the final period, the Lynx' stifling interior defense sealed the deal on this game.
  • Sarah Eberspacher of the Arizona Republic reports that the Phoenix Mercury never had any answers for the San Antonio Silver Stars yesterday in an 89-47 blowout loss, the largest margin of defeat in franchise history. On the other end of the spectrum, it was San Antonio's 11th straight win. Read more >>>
  • Saturday

    • Marc Allard of the Norwich Bulletin reported that center Tina Charles reached two milestones in the Connecticut Sun's 85-74 win over the New York Liberty on Saturday night. She became the fastest player in WNBA history to 1000 career rebounds and scored her 1500th point two possessions later. Read more >>>
    • Jayda Evans of the Seattle Times reports that the Seattle Storm had visibly improved chemistry despite an 82-71 loss to the Los Angeles Sparks on Saturday - despite missing Sue Bird, Lauren Jackson, Tina Thompson, and Ann Wauters they ended up more respectable outcome than their last meeting. Either way, the Sparks have taken advantage of the Storm's combination of injury and Olympic absences: they swept the season series. Read more >>>
    • Andy Hutchins writing for SB Nation Atlanta suggested after the Dream's loss to the Fever on Saturday that maybe home court advantage in the playoffs isn't that important given their recent postseason. Nevertheless, a meeting with the Fever after Katie Douglas hit a record 7 threes against them can't be too appealing. Read more >>>
    • Asher Feldman of SB Nation Atlanta takes a look at the Atlanta Dream's playoff position with 13 games remaining for them in the season. If the season ended today, the Dream would be the three seed set to play the second-seeded Indiana Fever, who just beat them on Saturday. Read more >>>

    Friday

    • Jack McCarthy reporting for the Chicago Tribune wrote that Chicago Sky guard Epiphanny Prince was disappointed that she didn't do more to help her team in the fourth quarter in Friday's home loss to the Atlanta Dream. As usual, she pointed to turnovers as the main culprit in the game. Read more >>>
    • Tim Leighton of the Pioneer Press reports that Seimone Augustus had a team-high 20 points on Friday before leaving the court in the third quarter of the Lynx' 98-69 victory over the Washington Mystics due to rolling her ankle. She returned to the court and is also threatening another of Katie Smith's records: the Lynx' all-time scoring record. Read more >>>
    • Mike Brown of the Tulsa World reports that the Tulsa Shock looked like a better basketball team for three quarters on Friday night before the streaking Silver Stars pulled away. One again, it was an early hole that hurt the Shock as defensive breakdowns allowed the Silver Stars to shoot 12-for-20 with four threes in the first quarter. Read more >>>

    There are obviously plenty more links from the weekend - both directly game-related and otherwise - so feel free to drop any additional thoughts in the comments.

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