Halftime, Xcel Energy Center, Sunday night, Lynx locker room: A film by Cheryl Reeve.
Reeve’s team was ahead, but not by enough. The Lynx had led from the opening tip, but there were problems. Perhaps the biggest was defensive rebounding.
Or the lack of it.
So the coach dimmed the lights and showed the film of each of the 12 offensive rebounds the Chicago Sky had grabbed while the Lynx were either out of the picture (literally), or out of sorts.
“She showed all of them,” Seimone Augustus said. “Every single one of them.”
It would have been interesting to hear Reeve’s soundtrack.
In that way the Lynx improved. In a 70-61 season-opening victory over the Chicago Sky, they hit the boards better in the second half. But, in general, they never really found a flow.
Good thing center Sylvia Fowles did.
Fowles scored 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Lynx won their opener for the sixth consecutive season. And this with the rest of her teammates struggling mightily to make a shot.
With that, Reeve was OK. She liked most of the shots her players got. The fact that Maya Moore (5-for-19 overall, 1-for-11 on threes), Augustus (3-for-10) and Lindsay Whalen (3-for-9) were a combined 11-for-38 can be chalked up to three players who, after taking the winter off from playing overseas, might have been a little rusty, not yet in peak WNBA shape. Moore (11 points) was the only other Lynx player in double figures.
But the rebounding? Reeve wasn’t having that, perhaps thinking it was emblematic of a general lack of energy in a game in which her team scored 26 points in the first quarter but only 26 in the second half.
So she harped on it. “We just got outrebounded,” Reeve said. “That can’t happen. Not when, in the last game you played in 2016 [a Game 5 loss in the WNBA Finals], you lost the game on an offensive rebound. You’re going to come out there and not defensive rebound? That can’t happen. But that just happened to us. So, it ain’t gonna happen again.”
Both Reeve and Fowles agreed — Fowles was wonderful, then not very good, and then good again over the course of the game. She had 17 points in the first half. In the third quarter she had two while getting frustrated when she didn’t get calls. But she put that aside and scored seven points with five rebounds in the final quarter, scoring all seven in a 12-5 run that put Minnesota up 10 with 2:21 left.
“I just kind of blanked out, but in a good say,” Fowles said. “You can’t get riled up with all the physicality. I had to bring it back to the basics.”
Which is what the Lynx likely will work on this week. The Lynx did force the Sky into 24 turnovers. And the ball was moving; Minnesota had 21 assists on 27 made field goals.
But lots of things have to get better.
“There are definitely things we need to work on,” Moore said. “We need to continue to get our minds and bodies in the place they need to be. But we got the win anyway.”
Yes. But the players still can expect a rather brisk practice when the team reconvenes Tuesday. Start with the rebounding.
“It’s unacceptable to have guards watching,” Reeve said. “Saying, ‘Bigs, go get ’em,’ and retreating. That’s not what we do. When you see those things you have to blame the coach because, obviously, I didn’t emphasize those things enough. That will change.”
Said Augustus: “She’s absolutely right. That’s one thing I will agree with her on.’’