So this is what can happen when a group of veterans used to winning and sick and tired of losing can do:
Saturday at Target Center the Lynx imposed their will on the New York Liberty. Pretty much from the start, too. In an 85-71 victory the Lynx were, well, were the Lynx.
This came after a full week of festering over the team’s 3-6 start.
The Lynx last played a week ago in Connecticut, a loss in which the Sun pulled away at the end. After that the Lynx had a day of travel, two days of rest and what Reeve called a three-day “mini training camp’’ dedicated to rediscovering the kind of basketball that has brought this team four WNBA titles in seven seasons.
It couldn’t have come at a better time.
“I think we just collectively worked towards playing the way we’re capable of playing,’’ said forward Rebekkah Brunson.
Brunson scored seven points and had six rebounds and two steals. Most importantly, she hounded New York star Tina Charles into a 12-point, 5-for-14 shooting game.
It was vintage Brunson.
“We had a major week of practice,’’ she said. “We locked in.’’
Yes, they did. From the start of the season Reeve has talked about Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles playing like the MVP players they are.
That happened in the same game Saturday. Fowles made 10 of 13 shots, scoring 25 points and grabbing nine rebounds. She had four offensive rebounds, one reason the Lynx had a 19-3 edge on second-chance points. Moore returned to stuffing the stat sheet, with 20 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Fowles, ever the superstitious one, credited her hair. For the first time this season she abandoned the short hair for long braids, her look from last year.
“I’m serious. That’s the reason,’’ she joked. “The ’fro and I did not get along this season. I had to abandon that.’’
But seriously: Fowles made quick decisions and was active on both ends of the floor. Ditto for Moore, who hit three three-pointers and made two steals.
“There were too many moments where we weren’t imposing our will,’’ Moore said. “Or doing our best to impose our will. It is a game of wills. And I thought, tonight, we reminded ourselves of what it feels for us to do that for long stretches of the game. So it was important.’’
The Lynx played without Seimone Augustus, who was bothered by a sore hamstring. It was a big reason why Reeve — who had also pledged to tighten her rotation earlier in the week — changed her mind. Both Cecilia Zandalasini (13 points) and Temi Fagbenle (seven) had career highs in scoring. Indeed the bench was impressive, with Zandalasini a team-best plus-21 and backup point guard Danielle Robinson a plus-18 with eight assists in 20 minutes.
The Lynx led by 12 at the end of a quarter, by 16 at halftime and by 21 entering the fourth quarter. And while the Lynx had some turnover trouble down the stretch, they held the Liberty under 40 percent shooting in the second half, assuring the one-sided victory.
“We talked a lot after that Connecticut game,’’ Fowles said. “We weren’t going to throw a pity party for ourselves. We knew what we had to do.’’
And that was get back to the basics. Yes, it is only one game, at home, against the struggling Liberty (3-6). But it was a big step after a big week. Reeve was asked what she sensed in her veterans over the past week.
“Not feeling great about the start to the season,’’ Reeve said. “This is not what we all came back for, losing six of nine games. And not just losing, it’s how we [did] it. They weren’t happy with how we were doing it. … The veterans worked hard for this. They went to another level this week, and that’s what you need.’’