About the time Erlana Larkins was picking up her career-high eighth assist Wednesday — on a nice high-low pass to Sylvia Fowles for a layup — Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve thought to herself: "Well, we got our money's worth on this one."
A week ago, Larkins was signed to a seven-day contract. After Wednesday's rout of Indiana, Reeve indicated that Larkins will be re-signed to another seven-day deal.
Actually, once the team decided to move on without Lynetta Kizer, Reeve had her sights on Larkins. But the Lynx had to wait until one of Larkins' knees — she suffered a bone bruise while playing overseas — had healed enough for her to play.
It was worth the wait.
Larkins' reputation is for tough defense, intense rebounding, physical and precise screens and a willingness to pass. All of that was on display in the Lynx's 89-65 victory over the Fever. Coming off the bench, Larkins scored only four points. But she had eight assists to six players, six rebounds and two steals. She was a plus-20, helping a bench that scored 34 points.
"I just found the open person," Larkins said. "They did the job knocking down the shots. It was pretty easy."
Larkins, in her ninth WNBA season, knows the Lynx. She was on both Indiana teams that faced the Lynx in the WNBA Finals, including the one that beat Minnesota in 2012. Reeve, having watched her for years, knew she was tough to play against.
"She only knows one way," Reeve said. "Her motor is high. Her will is really, really high. She has awareness on help defense, on on-ball defense, fighting for rebounds. Those are things that win games."
Brought in to be a backup big, Larkins has surprised Reeve with her ability to play on the floor with Fowles, which might make it easier to take minutes off starting power forward Rebekkah Brunson. Larkins has always rebounded well. But her ability to pass out of the high post could add a dimension to the Lynx offense; during the game, Maya Moore was talking on the bench about how playing with Larkins reminded her of what it was like to play when Janel McCarville played for the team, with her ability to hit players cutting to the basket.
"It's funny you say that, because Janel and I were teammates in New York," Larkins said. "J-Mac is a heck of a passer. Maybe we are similar players. She has the flashier, cooler passes. But, I mean, an assist is an assist. It works out the same."
Lynx point guard Lindsay Whalen collided with Indiana guard Erica Wheeler under the Fever basket early in the third quarter. Whalen left the game and did not return.
It was first described as a nose injury. But, after the game, Reeve said Whalen butted heads with Wheeler.
"I just know she's not feeling the best," Reeve said. "It was pretty loud out there, so I think it was best to keep her [out of the arena bowl]."
Reeve's comment suggested the incident might be less about the nose and more about a blow to the head. The Lynx are taking Thursday off but should have an update Friday.