Lynx feel healthy, and OK, maybe a little slighted, too

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 17, 2012 - 6:35 AM

The latest power rankings have the champs third in the West.

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When last you saw them, Seimone Augustus and the rest of the Lynx left the Target Center court on July 12 with an 89-74 victory over the Tulsa Shock. The Lynx lead the Western Conference, but Los Angeles and San Antonio are less than two games behind.

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune file

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It would appear the Lynx are well-positioned for the post-Olympic run into the WNBA playoffs.

They are first in the Western Conference and a half-game ahead of Connecticut for the league's best record (15-4). They are in good health, with Jessica Adair's knee, Rebekkah Brunson's calf and Devereaux Peters' hand all healed. Their three best players -- Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen and Maya Moore -- are all razor sharp after having spent their summer vacation winning gold in London.

So why was coach Cheryl Reeve playing the disrespect card?

Guess Reeve doesn't want to leave anything to chance with a team aiming to defend its WNBA title. So after an intense practice on Target Center's main floor Thursday, Reeve reached for some extra motivation, referring to the league's most recent power rankings, which had the Lynx third behind San Antonio and Los Angeles.

"It's fascinating to me how we can be the best team in nearly every statistical category, but yet somehow the league finds us, in their power rankings, to be all the way down at No. 3," Reeve said. "We found that both humorous and maddening at the same time."

Well, those rankings did come out after the Lynx hit a mini-slump before the Olympic break, when they lost three in a row -- at San Antonio, at Los Angeles and against Connecticut. The Lynx did rebound with consecutive victories over Tulsa -- the last-place team in the West.

But you get the idea. Reeve is leaving no insult unturned in her attempt to have the team ready to fly out of the gate for the restart of the 2012 season, which begins Friday against Washington at Target Center.

The timing is good, for a couple of reasons.

First, health. Adair had her knee scoped June 22, missing nine games. Brunson strained her left calf July 7, missing the final two games before the break. Peters broke her left hand July 5. All are important post players, and all three are ready to play.

Second, with a league-high three players on the U.S. Olympic team, the Lynx will be playing Washington with the majority of their starting lineup in no need of rust removal from the five-week-long break.

"I kid with them, telling them they were away on vacation when we were back here working," Reeve said. "But they worked every day."

The rest of the Lynx practiced regularly, but with little scrimmaging. The team worked on shots and team concepts, but also took time to rest, both physically and mentally. Reeve had the team doing Zumba workouts and practicing yoga, too.

"I think the biggest thing is getting your wind back, your timing and rhythm," center Taj McWilliams-Franklin said. "That's how the games [this weekend] will probably look, a little out of sync. We could be a step slow in things. But basketball is something we've been doing for quite a while. We'll come right back."

After playing host to Washington and Tulsa, the Lynx are at Seattle and Atlanta -- and all four opponents have losing records. By then, Reeve hopes, everybody -- including, perhaps, those folks who do the league's power rankings -- will have forgotten that pre-Olympic losing streak.

"We had that stretch there in those three games where we played the three top teams in the league, two road games, and we fell short," Reeve said. "But we bounced back great [against Tulsa]. We had a bunch of injuries there at the end, but we played great against Tulsa, and that was really important for us."

Whalen put it simply. "Now is our time to get going," she said. "Everybody looks great, everybody is focused into what we're trying to do."

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