It was the kind of game you might expect out of a team playing for the sixth time in 10 nights, a group that hasn’t had a practice in almost two weeks.
The Lynx struggled to make layups. They struggled with turnovers. At times, they even struggled mightily just to inbound the ball.
Oh: And they also won.
The Lynx beat Indiana 83-77 at Target Center on Sunday night despite getting one more offensive rebound, as coach Cheryl Reeve is fond of saying, than a dead man. Despite 19 turnovers. Despite making only two three-pointers all night.
All that did was make it a bit more dramatic than it needed to be.
“By whatever means necessary,” Reeve said after the game. That’s also what guard Lindsay Whalen said to Reeve, on the court, as the game was coming to a close. The Lynx (11-4) have battled through a tough stretch and ended it with two consecutive victories, the exclamation point Reeve was hoping for.
Maya Moore scored 19 of her 25 points in the second half, 11 of those in the crucial fourth quarter. That included a putback with 3 minutes, 59 seconds left — the team’s only offensive rebound of the game — and a three-pointer with 1:58 left that pushed the lead back to five. Whalen had 16 points and five assists and Seimone Augustus had 16 points for the Lynx, who will have four much-needed days off before their next game.
“Indiana is such a tough team,” said Whalen, who had only six points and five turnovers in the first half, which ended with the Fever up six after a 12-0 run to end the half. “They challenge you. You basically have to make one more play on offense and one more play on defense than you are accustomed to. On every possession you have to go one more.’’
That’s why this was a tight game even though the Lynx shot 57.4 percent to Indiana’s 37.1. The Fever got second-chance points, hit nine three pointers. And they caused a lot of turnovers. Especially in the first half. The Lynx had used a 10-0 run to go up by 11 with 6:26 left in the half. But Indiana proceeded to outscore Minnesota 23-6 over the next 6-plus minutes, a stretch rife with Lynx turnovers and Fever three-pointers.
“We had a heart-to-heart at halftime,” Reeve said. “They had 10 steals at halftime and we had 13 turnovers. I told them that we’re shooting 60 percent. If we handle the ball, we’ll get more opportunities.”
They did. Moore had eight points and Augustus seven in the third quarter, which ended with the Lynx up two. The score was tied four times in the fourth, but the Lynx never trailed again. Whalen’s two free throws midway through the quarter put the Lynx up for the last time. Devereaux Peters’ jumper with 2:49 left made it a five-point game and Tan White’s two free throws with 30.9 seconds left pushed the league to seven.
By whatever means necessary. Ultimately the Lynx played very good defense and did just enough of everything else to beat the Fever (6-6). So, through 15 games, in the face of injuries and a rather nasty schedule, the Lynx have won 11. Now they play seven of their next 10 games at home, where they are 5-1.
“Sometimes you have to do it a little differently,” Moore said. “It’s not always going to be pretty. But we always believe, when we’re on the court, that there is a chance. We just kept going.”