Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve was asked after Tuesday’s 91-79 victory over Seattle at Target Center if her team was, officially, back.
After all: Five consecutive victories after a 3-6 start. Victories over both Phoenix and Seattle in that stretch. An offense that hummed, a defense that thumped.
Well, no, Reeve said. But on a technicality.
“We were never here,” Reeve said. “We weren’t here to start the year. For nine games we weren’t here. Shame on us, but we created some of the narrative. We can’t change that now. But we can change everything going forward.”
Tuesday the Lynx continued to take those steps forward by playing like the team fans remember from years past.
Led by Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles, the Lynx used an 11-0 run to take control of the game in the first quarter and never really lost it; Minnesota led by as many as 21 and were still up 15 when Reeve cleared her bench late.
Frankly, the two dominated. Moore had 32 points, seven rebounds and three assists. She also had a block on former Lynx forward Natasha Howard, who received her 2017 championship ring pregame, then struggled through a 2-for-7 shooting night.
Fowles? She had 28 points, 17 rebounds, three steals. Together, Moore and Fowles scored 60 of Minnesota’s 91 points, grabbed 24 of the team’s 42 rebounds. It was the best the two had played in the same game since … Maybe ever?
“I don’t know that it’s ever happened,” Reeve said. “To that level? You’re talking 28 and 17, and 32 and seven.”
All that said, it was a team effort. Except for Seattle star Breanna Stewart, the league’s leading scorer, the Storm (10-5) were stymied. Stewart had 27 points on 10-for-14 shooting. The rest of the team went 20-for-56.
The Lynx dominated on the boards (42-28), in points in the paint (42-22). The team set a season high in assists (25) and matched a season high in points.
And while Moore and Fowles dominated, they got help. Rebekkah Brunson had nine points, nine rebounds and a career-high six assists. In all, five Lynx players had three or more assists.
But, boiled down, this was the Moore and Fowles show.
“It was just clicking,” said Fowles, who hit 11 of 15 shots. “For us all, but definitely for Maya and me. Everything was in a groove, nothing was forced.”
Moore continues to surge. She scored 30 points for the first time since scoring 40 nearly two years ago. She has scored 20 or more in each of the past five games. During a week between games after the 3-6 start, Moore and Reeve sat down, watched some film. Reeve noted that other team’s go-to players didn’t turn down shots, were aggressive. Used the play-fake to get players up, then drove. Why not her?
“A lot of growth took place,” Moore said of that week. “Just a team, remembering what we do well. Coaches continuing to remind me just to keep looking to be aggressive.”
Reeve said Moore is looking like the player who started the 2014 season — her MVP year — with four 30-point games in a row.
And Fowles, more and more is looking like the player who won MVP both for the regular season and the finals last season.
So, again, are the Lynx, now 8-6, back?
“We still have areas that need to be cleared up,” Fowles said. “But I like the direction we’re going in.”