At tipoff of Thursday’s game against San Antonio, the question surrounding the Lynx was whether the worst team in the league at defending threes could keep the league’s best three-point shooting team at bay.
And then guard Monica Wright made three three-pointers in the first quarter while the Stars couldn’t manage one, and all that doubt seemed to drop away.
The Lynx won 91-84 at Target Center, stopping San Antonio’s five-game road winning streak — fitting, considering the last time San Antonio lost on the road was to the Lynx on May 30.
They held the Stars to just 5-for-15 on three-pointers while going 7-for-13 themselves.
Focused practice on defensive details really made all the difference.
“Probably our best game at defending the three-point line,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “It was a focal point the last couple days, and we were fortunate we had the practice time.”
The Lynx (13-5) shot 53.8 percent on threes, well above their season average of 32.5, while holding the Stars to 33.3 percent.
Wright, in her second start this season in place of injured guard Seimone Augustus (bursitis in left knee), scored 17 points and went 3-for-4 on three pointers. She was only 1-for-4 in previous games this season.
“It felt good,’ ” Wright said. “[It] just opened the basket up for me and helped the confidence going a little offensively and helped me to kind of get going.”
Wright played just more than 32 minutes, which Reeve called payback in a way for Augustus stepping up in her absence. With the roles reversed, Wright impressed.
“Monnie’s lift offensively — just being really poised,” Reeve said. “I’ve been really impressed how quickly she’s gotten reacclimated and was really important to us making shots.”
Wright has played in only eight games after preseason knee surgery.
Guard Tan White went 2-for-4 on threes, one of which was a buzzer-beater before halftime that put the Lynx ahead 41-35. Forward Maya Moore was also 2-for-4 on three-point shots and scored 21 points, second only to guard Lindsay Whalen, who had 22 points and seven assists, both game highs.
Forward Kayla McBride led the Stars (9-9) with 17 points.
McBride said the Stars’ three-point shooting is such an integral part of their offense that not capitalizing on it threw their whole game off.
The Stars had 16 turnovers, including a handful of shot-clock violations against the Lynx’s imposing defense.
“They were denying us in the wing,” she said. “They weren’t letting us get into our comfort zone. We weren’t getting open, fatigue, things like that. But it’s mostly just us letting them get into our heads and getting physical with us.”
The Lynx made nine steals and scored 20 points off turnovers.