ATLANTA — Minnesota Lynx center and WNBA legend Sylvia Fowles made yet another stop on her retirement tour and this one was especially special. Before the game, the Atlanta Dream presented Fowles with a pair of Air Force Ones and roses.
It was the beginning of what turned out to be a great night for the Lynx and a bad one for the Dream. The Lynx won 92-85 on the back of Aerial Powers’ game-high 25 points on 62.5% shooting while Fowles in her final game in Atlanta scored 12 points and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds.
As a team, Minnesota shot 55.6% from the field, including 64% at one point in the third quarter. This was on the back of 21 assists as a team and Atlanta head coach Tanisha Wright was very frustrated with her team’s shot selection.
“I thought earlier, we got some shots that were open and we got some easy looks, but throughout their run and their streaks, we took very uncharacteristic shots that contributed to them being able to get out and different things like that,” coach Wright said.
Coach Wright was especially disappointed by what she perceived as her team’s lack of effort. She was frustrated because she always tries to instill into her team a certain amount of competitiveness to bring to the floor every single game and she didn’t see that night.
“Tonight, I can’t eat this,” coach Wright said. “I don’t feel good about this because they didn’t compete and it’s a representation of me and I built my whole career on competing, so when they look like this, I take it very personally.”
That lack of competitiveness described by Wright was summed up in the fact that the Dream shot 38.6% as a team. Rhyne Howard had 18 points on 20 shots and Cheyenne Parker had 16 points, but she only took seven shots. The only efficient scorer for Atlanta was Tiffany Hayes, who had 24 points on 50% shooting.
The Lynx’s lights-out shooting in contrast to the Dream’s poor shooting enabled for the former to lead 25-16 at the end of the first quarter and 49-29 at halftime. The Lynx led by 23 points at one point, but the Dream managed to go on an 18-8 run to pull within 10 points and even made it a 6-point ball game at one point.
The Lynx eventually managed to pull away and their dominant team performance was capped off by Fowles scoring her very last points in Atlanta on a free throw and in the process received an ovation from the Dream faithful. Parker will always have fond memories of her playing career.
“When I was a younger player, I used to just watch games of Sylvia and just watch how she worked around the paint,” Parker said. “She’s always been just legendary.”
Both teams are currently on the outside looking in as it pertains to the playoff picture, as the Dream are currently a No. 9 seed with a 12-17 record and the Lynx are right behind them at 11-19. If the Dream are going to make the playoffs, they are going to need more contributions from players like Erica Wheeler, who became a member of the 2,000-point club on Thursday night.
“I love this game,” Wheeler said. “This game saved my life, so for me, I try to give it my all every time…I belong here. I don’t think I have to prove that to anybody, so for me, I just think it’s a great milestone that shows my work.”