Win or else: Lynx facing elimination game tonight

  • Article by: ROMAN AUGUSTOVIZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 2, 2012 - 3:01 PM

Sure, they want to win another WNBA title, but for now they hope to match last season's success in Game 3 of the opening round.

The Lynx were 25-0 this season when leading or tied after three quarters.

Until Sunday, when their shooting touch turned numb.

Seattle, trailing by six into the fourth quarter, rallied to beat the Lynx 86-79 in two overtimes in KeyArena to even the best-of-three series in the Western Conference semifinals at 1-1. Game 3 is Tuesday at Target Center, where the Lynx are 17-1, counting Friday's playoff victory over the Storm.

Despite the Lynx's dominance at home, if their offense remains stalled, the Storm, who finished 11 games back of them in the West standings, appear capable of upsetting the league's top seed and defending champion.

On Sunday, the Lynx were 6-for-30 shooting in the fourth quarter and two overtimes. That's an icy 20 percent.

"Offensively, we were bad," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. "We were really bad. It was a combination of what they did -- the hunger and desperation that they played with. They clearly didn't want their season to end."

Now the Lynx face an elimination game, too.

"We have all the players necessary to get it done on the offensive end," Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson said. "We just have to stick with it and ride it out."

Brunson has done her part. She had 22 points and 15 rebounds Sunday for her second double-double in this series.

"We know if we come out on Tuesday night and play the way we're supposed to play," Brunson said, "and focus in, then we're in a good position."

The Storm, 6-12 on the road this season, has found ways to frustrate the Lynx with a tough man-to-man defense and the 6-foot-6 Lauren Jackson at center. Even in the first game, which the Lynx won 78-70, they only had 33 points in the first half and went over three minutes without scoring in the second and fourth quarters.

That's unusual for a team that averaged a league-high 86 points per game, came within hundredths of a percentage point of setting a single-season record for field goal percentage (47.3) and shot 50 percent or better 13 times. They have four players who averaged in double figures, including Seimone Augustus at a team-high 16.6. Seattle coach Brian Agler worried about Augustus, so he rotated three players to guard her.

"Seimone is a big 1-on-1 player, there is no question," Agler said. "She might be the best in our league with the ability at creating separation from the defender and getting her shots off.

"Tanisha [Wright] was on her and then we had Katie [Smith] on her for a while. Then we put Camille [Little] on her for a while. I thought Camille, maybe the size, along with the fatigue of the game may have helped us at that time from [Augustus] hitting some shots. All three really fought hard."

Little is 6-2 -- two inches taller than Augustus, who had 19 points through three quarters but only one point after that.

Lynx point guard Lindsay Whalen had her worst shooting night of the season, going 2-for-15. She kept driving to the basket and missing.

The Storm finally prevailed by outscoring the Lynx 11-4 in the second overtime by simplifying their offense.

"We narrowed our calls down to two or three things," Storm point guard Sue Bird said, "and just to be honest, ran the hell out of them."

Whatever works at playoff time.

"We did put ourselves in a similar situation last year" in the opening round, Brunson said, "so we know it's not over."

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