After a rough 0-4 start to the season, Minnesota looked to bounce back against the Los Angeles Sparks and got the job done, defeating their opponent 87-84 at Crypto.com Arena.
The Lynx were led by the performances of Kayla McBride, Sylvia Fowles and Moriah Jefferson, who combined for 64 total points, and Jessica Shepard’s near double-double (10 points, nine rebounds and three assists). The Lynx shot an efficient 48.4 percent from the floor and 52.9 percent from beyond the arc while limiting the Sparks to 47.8 percent and 40.0 percent, respectively. While the win was hopeful, there continue to be some lingering areas of weakness that are repeatedly impacting Minnesota’s overall performance during games.
Here are some key takeaways from the 87-84 victory:
Difficulty getting stops
Despite a strong offensive performance, Minnesota found themselves down by three at the end of the third quarter (65-62).
The Lynx found themselves in that position because of the same shortcoming that has impacted them many times so far this season: their defense. While the Lynx did hold the Sparks to a lower field goal and three-point percentage, Los Angeles cut the Lynx’s lead through wide-open opportunities and points off of Minnesota’s six third-quarter turnovers. The Sparks were able to score 11 points off turnovers in the quarter, which evidently got them the lead. Minnesota also had difficulty defending Los Angeles’ solid playmaking, failing to guard shooters and allowing too many easy buckets.
In the fourth quarter, the Sparks were less efficient from the field, shooting 7-of-16 through the final 10 minutes. However, Los Angeles shot well from three by making 2-of-4 attempts from distance. But, the imposing defensive presence of Sylvia Fowles in the fourth quarter created some issues for Los Angeles, and it was not able to make the proper adjustments before time ran out. Even though Minnesota walked away with a victory on Tuesday, this inconsistent defense must be altered in order to finish future contests when the offense may not be performing at a high level.
Solid playmaking equals stronger shot selection
One of the biggest strengths for the Lynx this season has been their ability to make the extra pass on possessions to help facilitate an open opportunity. So far this season, Minnesota is tied for third in the WNBA in assists per game with 21 a night. With that being said, this team’s strong suit has been its playmaking.
In order to win against a competitive Sparks squad, the Lynx needed to continue to score in that way. And tonight, the effective playmaking shined through. While Minnesota only had 19 assists, their playmaking goes far beyond the box score. Players were making the extra pass to turn good plays into great ones. Fans also saw every member of Minnesota’s starting five play selfless ball, as they helped each other score in the most efficient ways possible.