Perhaps it's a sign of how far the Lynx have come in the past two weeks that they can play half a good game and still be leading by 21 points early in the fourth quarter, with most of the starters heading to the bench to take the rest of the night off.
Friday at Target Center, in front of an announced 9,209 fans, the Lynx won their sixth consecutive game, 85-74 over an Atlanta team that spent most of the first 20 minutes trying to turn the game into a clutch-and-grab affair. The Lynx fell into that trap in the first half but sprung their own in the second.
"The ability to come in and make adjustments is something that gives us an advantage,'' said Maya Moore, who scored 24 points, her sixth consecutive game with 20 or more.
She was talking about the halftime discussion in the locker room, during which the Lynx pretty much completely changed the way they attacked Atlanta.
"I liked the way we responded,'' Moore said.
What's not to like? While taking a slim three-point lead into halftime, the Lynx allowed Atlanta to muck the game up, slow the pace down and pack the paint so much that center Sylvia Fowles was frustrated into four turnovers.
In the second half here was the plan: Let Atlanta concentrate on Fowles. Let Fowles concentrate on playing defense and rebounding. Let the rest of the Lynx players use that space.
The Lynx were still up three with 7:14 left in the third after Angel McCoughtry scored for Atlanta. But over the next 14½ minutes the Lynx (9-6) outscored the Dream 31-13 to take a 74-53 lead on Moore's 25-foot three-pointer — her fourth of the night — with 7:15 left to play.
Talk about your adjustments. In the first half the Lynx committed 12 turnovers. From the start of the third quarter until they built that 21-point lead? Just one.
Moore had a three-pointer and a three-point play and Lindsay Whalen a three-pointer in an 11-0 third-quarter run that put the Lynx up 14. They led by 13 to start the fourth, and then Moore had two more three-pointers in a 10-2 run to put the Lynx up 21 and prompt coach Cheryl Reeve to empty her bench. And while Reeve wasn't happy with the way that bench finished the game, she was happy how her team responded to a difficult first half.
"We sustained the energy despite the frustrations of the first half,'' Reeve said. "Especially Syl. … It was a good halftime, in terms of the things we had to say, the look in their eyes, and how we came out of there."
Fowles finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds. But she took only two shots and scored two points in the second half. Instead, she kept rebounding, blocked two shots and had three assists after halftime.
After being shut out for just the second time in her career Tuesday, Seimone Augustus scored 10 on 5-for-7 shooting. Atlanta (7-8) was led by backup center Imani McGee-Stafford's 15 points. McCoughtry, the Dream's scoring leader, was held to six on 2-for-10 shooting.
It was a strong way for the Lynx to start a stretch in which they will play five games in nine nights, two of them on the road. It is a crucial stretch at a time when the top six teams in the league are separated by less than three games.
"We've definitely hit a growth spurt,'' Fowles said. "You're seeing it as we play. We're all on the same page at this point.''