It had been a wretched week, the worst of the season for the Lynx. Still, when forward Maya Moore looked past the sting of two deflating losses, she saw a bit of wisdom hidden inside.
“Sometimes,” she said, “you have to be reminded of how hard it is to be great.’’
Friday, the Lynx showed themselves — and the rest of the WNBA — just how great they can be. They demolished Indiana 111-52, setting a league record for the largest margin of victory in a mind-boggling performance at Xcel Energy Center.
The Lynx distanced themselves from their two lowest-scoring games of the season with their highest output of the summer, even without injured starters Lindsay Whalen and Rebekkah Brunson. Two days after scoring 61 points in a loss at Seattle, they poured in 68 in the first half alone. The blowout became a hurricane during a 37-0 run bridging the first and second quarters, as the Fever failed to score for more than 11 minutes.
A ferocious Lynx defense forced 20 turnovers and shut down an Indiana offense that missed 18 shots in a row in the first half. Point guard Renee Montgomery, in her best performance as a starter in place of Whalen, scored 20 points and used her hot outside shooting to open up the inside for Sylvia Fowles. Fowles scored a game-high 25 while playing less than 24 minutes.
“They were able to do anything they wanted after about 90 seconds of play,” Indiana coach Pokey Chatman said. “We never, ever came close to recovering.”
Recovering from the frustrations of the past week was the Lynx’s aim. After their usually fine-tuned offense became disjointed in losses to Los Angeles and Seattle, they were happy to give a crowd announced at 9,621 the show it has come to expect.
“We were ready to respond,” said Moore, among six Lynx in double figures with 11 points. “Our coaching staff challenged us, and we challenged ourselves as leaders.
“This was truly a team win. It’s something that will remind us of what we can be when we’re all together and locked in.”
Since Whalen broke her hand on Aug. 3, the Lynx had gone 1-3 and absorbed their first consecutive losses of the season. Following Wednesday’s defeat at Seattle, coach Cheryl Reeve said the team had a “tough conversation” about the need for everyone to push harder.
The Lynx got a bit of good news before the game, when Reeve found out that Brunson — originally expected to miss two weeks after spraining her left ankle at Seattle — might not be out that long. It quickly got better from there.
Montgomery has borne the weight of Whalen’s absence and a large share of criticism during the slump. Reeve wanted her to get more scoring chances, and her shooting got things started. After Indiana took a 5-4 lead, she hit the first of a trio of three-pointers, propelling the Lynx to an 18-7 lead and spreading the defense.
The Lynx offense hit from everywhere, utilized all of its strengths and never let up. While Indiana went 12:59 without a field goal, the Lynx lead grew from 22-9 to 59-9. At one point, the Fever had more turnovers (11) than points (nine).
“It was crazy,’’ Montgomery said. “You don’t realize until after, when people ask, ‘Did y’all know you went on a 37-0 run?’ I’m just happy we could win.’’
The run represented the most consecutive points scored in WNBA history.
“This is a group that’s really, really competitive,” Reeve said. “They had some stuff eating at them. They wanted to be a better team.”