A good while after Tuesday’s game had ended at Target Center, Lynx center Sylvia Fowles was getting ready to leave the team’s locker room. A couple lockers down, Maya Moore was talking in low, measured tones.
Fowles was quiet, frustrated. Emotional. Fowles cares deeply about what she does for her teammates, and this time she felt she hadn’t done enough.
“Yes, I’m frustrated,’’ Fowles said, her voice cracking, a tear in her eye. “Because coach [Cheryl] Reeve puts so much into us, you know? Maya and I have to go out and carry the team. For us to have an off night like that?’’
The Lynx, riding a seven-game winning streak, ran headfirst into a wall Tuesday, losing 71-59 to an Indiana team that won for just the second time this season. Minnesota reached the midway point of its season at 10-7, with a slow start replaced by a winning streak followed by …
This was the Lynx’s lowest point total since an 87-59 loss to the Sparks in Los Angeles on June 21, 2013. It’s their lowest point total in a home games since July 27 of 2010 — Reeve’s first season in Minnesota — in a 71-58 loss here to L.A. Tuesday the Lynx shot 22-for-67 (32.8 percent), their lowest percentage since shooting 27.5 percent in a two-point win over San Antonio in 2011.
“There is no question there is more talent in the Lynx locker room,’’ Reeve said. “And no question that the Indiana Fever played much harder in every facet of the game. And hard work beats talent.’’
It did Tuesday. Other than Rebekkah Brunson (13 points and 12 rebounds) and Seimone Augustus (3-for-5 shooting), it was an off night for just about everyone.
Moore finished 3-for-15 for nine points, ending a streak of seven consecutive games over 20 points. It was the first time she was held under 10 points since July of last year. Fowles had eight points and eight rebounds, with just four baskets and almost as many turnovers (three); afterward Reeve said she should have played backup Temi Fagbenle more than Fowles.
It was just the third time since Fowles joined the team midseason in 2015 that both she and Moore have both been held under 10 points.
“If you chalk it up to just one of those nights when shots didn’t fall, that’s ridiculous,’’ Reeve said. “They outplayed us. In everything. Beat us to every catch. The pace of their offense was much faster than the pace of our defense. Even though we held ’em to 71 points and 39-percent shooting, they had open shots. It wasn’t our defense.’’
Down five points early in the fourth quarter, backup guard Tanisha Wright scored and was fouled. She missed the free throw, but got her own rebound and fed Fagbenle for a three-point play that tied the score at 51 with 8:05 left.
But this was no momentum change. Cappie Pondexter — playing in her first game with the Fever — had a three-point play. Then Kelsey Mitchell did the same. Then Natalie Achonwa — who had 17 points, nine rebounds and three blocks (“She outplayed our entire post group,’’ Reeve said. “By herself”) scored and the lead was nine. The way the Lynx were shooting the game was over.
Indiana ended the game on a 20-8 run against the Lynx, who made just three of 12 shots after tying the score.
“They answered [every time],’’ Reeve said. “Every single time. We never got three in a row stops. Never were able to get consecutive scores. … We were bad offensively from the get-go. Maya got us off to a tough start, and Syl just slowly spiraled downhill.’’
Moore didn’t disagree.
“There is no question the team that played harder won tonight,’’ she said. “So disappointing.’’
And now the Lynx have to regroup for Thursday’s home game with Los Angeles (12-5).
“It’s about focusing,’’ Fowles said. “Focusing on the rim, making sure I’m poised and knocking down the shot. I didn’t do that tonight.’’