The first time she got the ball Wednesday night, Sylvia Fowles got 6-foot-8 Liz Cambage on her right hip, spun and put a lefthanded shot off the glass. Next time down, a quick pass from Lindsay Whalen set Fowles up for a layup. Moments later, another Whalen pass, another score.
And Fowles was off.
There was good and bad in the Lynx’s 76-68 victory over Dallas at Target Center on Wednesday. For a half — the first half — the Lynx played magnificent defense, beating the Wings on the boards, beating them down the court, using a 25-4 second-quarter run to build a 25-point halftime lead.
That 26.7-percent shooting in the second half, as the Wings whittled a 27-point lead down to eight? Well, nobody’s perfect.
But, from start to finish, Fowles came close.
Leading the charge for a Lynx team that rebounded from a turnover-filled, season-opening loss to Los Angeles, Fowles scored 23 points, had 20 rebounds, made 10 of 17 shots, had five steals and two blocks while playing against Cambage.
“She was acting up,’’ said Maya Moore, joking.
“Sylvia went to work,’’ coach Cheryl Reeve said.
Said Fowles: “It felt good.’’
Looked good, too. Cambage is back in the WNBA for the first time since 2013. She’s big, long, quick, strong. A challenge; you could see how tired both of them were at the end.
Fowles had the third 20-point, 20-rebound game of her career, her first in Minnesota, the first by a Lynx player and just the 18th such game in league history.
Against such a strong defender, Fowles fought for and got position, using angles and quickness to get to her spots, holding her ground. On the other end, Fowles pushed Cambage out of her comfort zone. Cambage scored 14 points on 7-for-14 shooting with 12 rebounds. But she was a minus-15. Fowles? Plus-20.
This after a frustrating game against the Sparks on Sunday, one in which Fowles got her double-double, but also had six turnovers.
“I was more rushing than anything,’’ Fowles said of the opening-day loss. “I wasn’t being composed and being my normal self.’’
This was the MVP of both the regular season and finals last year talking. Against the Wings, Fowles had six points and five boards in the first quarter, which ended with the Lynx up four. In the second quarter she scored 10 of her team’s 25 points and had seven of Minnesota’s 16 boards as that lead ballooned to 25.
“She set the tone for us,’’ said Moore. “It was fun to watch her be aggressive, be in her element, staying with it, staying persistent.’’
Reeve said she could tell after a sharp shootaround that her team was ready to start strong. She also said she could see a flat second half coming by the way her team left the locker room.
“We were absolutely tremendous, defensively, in the first half,’’ Reeve said of her team, which held Dallas to 9-for-40 shooting in the first half. “I knew they’d respond. That Sunday game, while only one of 34, they were pretty disappointed.’’
For Fowles, it was back to MVP form.
“This is going to be interesting how they guard me this year,’’ Fowles said. “I pretty much destroyed a lot of teams last year. I have to be ready for whatever they throw at me. I like those challenges. They keep me on my feet.’’