Against the defensive-minded Seattle Storm, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve knew her team needed to be sharp offensively to extend its already league-best winning streak to nine games. But on Sunday night at Target Center, it took the Lynx almost two minutes to score, the longest they have gone without a basket after a tipoff in more than a month.
It took the Lynx longer than usual to find their rhythm but, once they did, not even a fourth-quarter Storm rally could stop them.
Capitalizing off the Storm’s 21 turnovers, the Lynx scored 21 fast-break points on the way to a 90-72 victory, their 18th in a row at home during the regular season. The home streak matches the third-best mark in WNBA history.
“We wanted to make sure it was our tempo, not their tempo,” Reeve said, “and we accomplished that, particularly in the first quarter. I thought that set the tone for us to get some flow to what we were doing.”
The Lynx scored 15 points off 10 Storm turnovers in the opening quarter alone, outscoring their opponent 24-10 in the period after a 20-6 closing run.
Four minutes into the game, Lindsay Whalen stole the ball and tossed it ahead to Seimone Augustus, who drove for a layup and was fouled. She made the ensuing free throw to convert the three-point play. The Storm turned the ball over on four of their next five possessions.
In the second quarter, Rebekkah Brunson scored 10 of her 12 points, helping the Lynx take a 46-32 halftime lead. Brunson also had a team-high 11 rebounds, enough for her eighth double-double this season.
“We’re a team that, you never really know whose night it’s going to be,” Brunson said. “No one at that moment was scoring [in the second quarter], so it just gave me an opportunity to get some offense for myself.”
Despite a losing record, the Storm (8-11) came into Sunday’s matchup giving up only 73.67 points per game, the third-fewest in the WNBA. Reeve knew her team would have to fight for every point.
And from the start, that’s exactly what her players did. The Lynx (16-3) had 10 steals Sunday, seven in the first half.
In the fourth quarter, the Storm rallied a bit. With 5:18 left to play, Shekinna Stricklen’s three-pointer cut the Lynx’s lead — as high as 31 points once — to 13.
The Storm made seven of its eight three-pointers in the second half, and Stricklen made a career-high four behind the arc. The Lynx, challenged by the scrappy defense Reeve had been expecting, scored just 15 points in the final period.
“One of the most challenging things to do is play when you’re up 31,” Reeve said. “It’s a game of runs, and they had their run.”
Sunday’s game marked the fifth time this season the Lynx have scored at least 90 points, 22 of which came from Whalen, a team-high.
Reeve was pleased that 26 of her team’s 37 baskets were assisted.
Whalen and center Janel McCarville both had seven of those assists.
Other positive takeaways from Sunday’s game abounded for the Lynx. But with three games in a six-day span approaching, Reeve said her team won’t be complacent despite its nine-game winning streak.
“What’s really good for me is, they go away saying, ‘We’ve got to do this better, we’ve got to do that better,’ ” Reeve said. “I’m confident that we’ll be sharp in our preparation.”