Cruise to a huge halftime lead, then sputter in the second half and nearly lose. That's the recent pattern for the Lynx in two of their past three games.
Sunday night, the defending WNBA champions built a 21-point lead in the first half before sweating out an 83-79 victory over San Antonio at Target Center in front of an announced crowd of 7,942.
They are 7-0 this season -- the last unbeaten in the league. Only the 2001 and '03 Los Angeles Sparks (9-0) have had better starts to a WNBA season. Counting last year's playoffs, the Lynx have won 13 games in a row.
Still, the joy was minimal.
"We are just disappointed it became a game after such a big lead," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. "The nice thing for me is I am not alone in my disappointment in the locker room. Oftentimes these feel like losses when you finish that way. We got beat in the second half by 17 [points]! Seventeen!"
San Antonio (2-3) cut its deficit to two with 1.2 seconds left, as Becky Hammon was fouled on a three-pointer, made her first two free throws to make the score 81-79 then intentionally missed the third, hoping she or a teammate would grab the rebound.
Instead, she missed the rim altogether, and the Silver Stars were called for a lane violation.
Lynx forward Rebbekah Brunson made two free throws for the final margin.
This close call was similar to the Lynx's two-point victory in Washington last Wednesday. The Lynx led by 20 at the end of the first half that night.
"At halftime, walking back to the locker room, all the players were talking about, 'This is not going to be a Washington,' " Reeve said.
But it was.
Reeve knew the Lynx could not keep shooting 68.8 percent and told players to expect San Antonio to close the gap. The Silver Stars did, with forward Danielle Adams finishing with a game-high 21 points.
"We didn't want to come in here and get blown out like we can't play basketball," said guard Jia Perkins, who had 16 points for the visitors.
Said Reeve of San Antonio's rally: "We are not recognizing that we have to turn it up a notch, too, to match that intensity. For two games now, in that situation, we haven't answered it."
And yet the Lynx won. Maya Moore, held to three points in her last game, scored 17 points, as did Brunson.
"They are playing like a team that has 20 games under their belt," Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said of the Lynx before the game. "The speed they play at offensively from an execution standpoint is just way ahead of what I see in most of our teams now. I am envious."
Moore said the Lynx defense and rebounding faltered in the second half. "[The Silver Stars] don't go away," she said. "It's not the way we want to end. We are going to have to take those things and work on them."