This was just what the Lynx needed: a good, old-fashioned beatdown orchestrated by a hometown hero.
Two nights after a painful loss to Connecticut in which they had given up an 11-point lead in the final two minutes of regulation, the Lynx returned home to Target Center and put a hurt on the weary Dallas Wings.
The Lynx cruised to a 32-point first-half lead en route to a 93-56 victory.
Running the floor, passing crisply and shooting well, the Lynx (16-4) looked every bit like the defending WNBA champs and not the team that had lost four of its past six, putting the game away early with a 40-4 run the spanned the first and second quarters.
“The mission today was not just to be good, or good enough, but to be great,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “We took that message and applied it in just about every facet of the game.”
In fairness to Dallas, the Wings were playing the second of back-to-back road games and were without their best player in forward Glory Johnson, who sat out because of a foot injury.
The way the Lynx played Saturday, however, Johnson’s presence would have made little difference. They dominated Dallas in just about every important category.
The Lynx held the Wings to 24.6 percent shooting from the field (17-for-69) while shooting 52.6 percent themselves (40-76). They finished with a 51-28 rebounding edge and had a 28-to-8 assist-to-turnover ratio.
“It was unfortunate for Dallas to lose a player like Glory Johnson,” Reeve said. “Nonetheless, it doesn’t take away from what we did today.”
The catalyst behind the Lynx’ most complete performance of the season was Lindsay Whalen, who conjured up images of her college days at Minnesota, driving the lane, picking off passes and making all the right decisions with the ball.
She scored a season-high 22 points, making 11 of 13 shots. She added five assists, seven rebounds and the type of swagger that the Lynx had been in search of recently.
“She was playing possessed tonight,” said center Janel McCarville, a teammate of Whalen’s at Minnesota. “It took me back to my college days. It was fun to watch.”
Whalen became the first player in WNBA history to reach 5,000 points, 2,000 assists and 1,500 rebounds Thursday, but the loss put a damper on any celebration.
“It was nice that they announced [the milestone],” Whalen said. “I guess it means that I’ve been playing a long time. It’s pretty cool.”
With Seimone Augustus out for her second straight game because of a sore right knee, the Lynx’s big lead allowed them to lean on their bench, which responded with a splendid effort.
Jia Perkins, starting in place of Augustus, finished with 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Tasha Howard had 12 points and nine rebounds.
“We needed to put the Connecticut loss behind us,” McCarville said.