Reusse: Emotions lift Lynx sky high

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 18, 2012 - 12:06 PM

 Cheryl Reeve's meltdown raised the roof in the arena, but the truest game-changing sound came when Seimone Augustus resolved at halftime to step up and put the team on her shoulders.

Lindsay Whalen was not certain what had taken place near the Lynx bench with 3 minutes, 10 seconds left in the third quarter of Wednesday night's WNBA Finals game at Target Center.

Whalen had attempted a layup and felt as if the block by Indiana's Briann January was actually a foul. And when Whalen offered this opinion to official Roy Gulbeyan, she was given a technical foul.

Asked her total T's for this season, Whalen said: "That was my first of the year.''

And what did she think of coach Cheryl Reeve's explosion in front of the bench?

"I don't know,'' Whalen said. "What did she do?"

Reeve did an imitation of Clem Haskins. She tore off her coat and gave it a toss, earning a technical.

"She did?'' said Whalen, with a slight smile. "I remember that with Clem. He used to do that a lot.''

On occasion, Clem's coat throws were more calculated than spontaneous. That wasn't the situation with Reeve. She went bonkers. Good thing she didn't have a loose chair in her grasp or it could have become a Bobby Knight imitation.

Reeve's coat struck assistant coach Shelley Patterson. The other assistant, Jim Petersen, first managed to get in front of Reeve, and then Taj McWilliams-Franklin, the veteran of veterans, came over and told her coach to settle down.

The Lynx trailed 50-48 after Indiana's Tamika Catchings made a pair of free throws from the technicals. From there, the Lynx out-scored the Fever 12-5 for the rest of the quarter, and 35-21 for the rest of the game.

The final was 83-71, the series is tied 1-1, and the Lynx' pursuit of a second title in a row will resume Friday night in Indianapolis. If they bring the same fire that was exhibited in the second half, that could happen without the necessity of a decisive Game 5 back in Target Center next Wednesday.

Someone in the group of reporters surrounding Whalen asked if Reeve's technical brought an extra fire to the Lynx.

"I got a technical before she did, so I'm not sure,'' Whalen said. "I guess a good point guard and the coach are always on the same page -- even in getting technicals.''

The Reeve outburst was more fun than seeing the Stratosphere stuck at the State Fair, but it was not the emotional moment that turned this game toward the home team.

The game-changer was what got into Seimone Augustus at halftime. Augustus is the superstar in a star-filled Lynx lineup. For the first half, she was mostly MIA and was badly outplayed by Indiana's superstar, Catchings.

Augustus was 0-for-4 in the first quarter as the Lynx put up 11 points. She was 2-for-4 in the second quarter and finished with four points.

Meantime, Catchings had 15, and it could have been 25 if Gulbeyan and his friends had not chosen to swallow the whistle on several drives where Catchings was knocked to the floor by Lynx defenders.

There was an Ultimate Fighting card at Target Center earlier this month, and it could not have been more physical than the first half of this game.

The Lynx delivered more blows and were able to cut a 12-point lead to 33-31 for Indiana at halftime. And it was in the locker room, well before Reeve's meltdown, that Augustus decided to take over the game.

"It was a game we had to have ... we all knew that," Whalen said. "And in big situations like this, we always look to Seimone to lead. It's not a surprise to anyone that she did that.''

Augustus banked a short jump shot early in the third. She hit a 15-foot jumper. She hit a runner in the lane. She hit a 12-foot turnaround. She hit a 10-foot jumper. She stretched it to an 18-footer.

That added to 12 points for Augustus and a 57-55 lead. Candice Wiggins made a steal with 25 seconds left and got the ball to Augustus late in the shot clock.

Seimone maneuvered and then, with three seconds left in third, she fired a no-doubt three-pointer. Augustus threw a celebratory punch toward the sky, and it was clear then that this series would be tied going to Indianapolis.

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon to 4 weekdays on 1500-AM. preusse@startribune.com

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