For the Lynx, it doesn’t get any easier.
Off to a 2-4 start, their worst since 2010, and having lost two of three games at home, the Lynx now go on the road for games at Los Angeles, Washington and Connecticut.
Three of the top four teams in the WNBA so far.
After Friday’s 10-point loss to Phoenix at Target Center, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve was asked if a game against the Sparks — their intense rival over the past two seasons — was just what the team needed for inspiration.
“I’d prefer we played Mackenzie Barta’s high school team on Sunday,” Reeve said. She was referring to Lynx athletic trainer Chuck Barta’s daughter, now at Harvard, who played at Maple Grove. “I think we’d feel really good. But we’re in the WNBA. And if you don’t perform, you don’t win.”
The Lynx have lost three consecutive games. And, perhaps a sign of the struggles the team is having, each loss seems to come for different reasons. Friday it was a defense that allowed the Mercury to shoot north of 50 percent.
But one common factor is fourth-quarter struggles. The Lynx tied the score early in the fourth Friday, then allowed Phoenix to put the game away with an 8-0 run.
After the game, Reeve said she and her staff were looking at the fourth quarter problems, noting that Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore have struggled at times. Reeve is looking at substitution patterns to see if she can keep her key players fresher.
But the biggest theme was a team trying to find itself.
“It’s just mental toughness,” Moore said. “… In this game, you don’t execute your game plan at a high level, you get beat.”
“It’s going to take everybody just doing a little more of what they do best on the court,” Lindsay Whalen said. “… And sticking together.”
That will be the key. The Lynx haven’t looked like themselves, but the team is still filled with players who know how to win.
“We definitely have things to work on,” center Sylvia Fowles said after Friday’s game. “We played a little better today. But we have to go back and figure out how we’re going to get this win.”
The importance of the coming trip is magnified in part by the Lynx having lost road games at Washington and Atlanta last week after leading both games entering the fourth quarter.
“We told them that, while these last two games were losses for us, there was progress in the games,” Reeve said. “It’s not a moral victory situation, but it’s important we’re finding our way.”