The Lynx showed off the new look of their redesigned team on Friday as they took on the Washington Mystics at Target Center in their first preseason game of the year.
“We really wanted to get a look at our identity,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “We just wanted to kind of see what we’re about and put combinations together that are going to be on the team.”
Odyssey Sims was one of the players who wore a Lynx jersey in a game for the first time in a 86-79 victory over Washington. Sims led the team with 20 points, going 7-for-11 from the field. Veteran center Sylvia Fowles recorded a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Sims, acquired from Los Angeles in a trade for Alexis Jones, led the Lynx with 29 minutes, 26 seconds. She was known as one of Lindsay Whalen’s biggest rival for some heated moments on the court, but now plays in the point guard spot Whalen once held.
“Cheryl told me to take my shots, and I think that’s what I’m going to do every game and get my confidence back,” Sims said. “I couldn’t be happier to be with this Lynx organization, and I’ll wear this Lynx uniform proud every game.”
First-round draft pick Napheesa Collier played significant minutes, as did second-rounder Jessica Shepard. Shepard led the rookies with 10 points and eight rebounds, while Collier had four points but only took three shots. The two forwards played almost 45 combined minutes.
“It was definitely just a dream come true, just to be out there and to have a Lynx jersey on,” Shepard said. “We have a great group of girls, and we’re all very unselfish. We just want what’s best for each other.”
Kenisha Bell, a former Gophers guard and a third-round draft pick, got in the game with just over two minutes remaining and made two free throws. Second-round pick Taylor Emery got in with 10 seconds left in the game, and Cierra Dillard, the team’s fourth draft pick, didn’t play.
Bell said Whalen, her Gophers coach this past season, gave her advice on going into the WNBA.
“She just kind of just tells me to be you on the court,” Bell said, recalling the advice. “ ‘You got here for being you. Don’t go in and try to be something that you’re not. Don’t try to do extra things that you don’t normally do, just play your game.’ ”
The Lynx were 33-for-67 shooting from the field and made 19 of 26 free throws. However, the team shot 1-for-14 from three-point range.
Veteran forward Rebekkah Brunson, who missed the end of last season after suffering a concussion, wasn’t in attendance. “She’s on a path where she’s trying to elevate her workouts, and that’s all I know,” Reeve said. “I hope for her that she can end her career the way she wants to, because I think it’s a difficult thing when it’s not your choice.”
The Lynx will scrimmage the Chinese national team Wednesday and then play Las Vegas on May 19, before the regular-season opener against Chicago on May 25 at Target Center.
Jack Warrick is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.