The Lynx won again. No surprise. They beat the Seattle Storm 93-82 Sunday night at Xcel Energy Center and are 19-2, owners of the league’s best record and off to the best start in franchise history.
They even clinched a playoff spot, with 13 games and more than a month of the regular season remaining.
The response when coach Cheryl Reeve announced it in the locker room after the game was, to the coach’s best recollection, something like, “And?”
This team has larger ambitions, including a fourth title in seven seasons. And in their victory over the Storm, the Lynx showed the versatility that could help them accomplish it.
Seimone Augustus was out Sunday, and possibly in future games, for personal reasons. Maya Moore left the floor midway through the first quarter with two early fouls and didn’t score until less than seven minutes remained in the half.
Neither matter was really an issue.
Jia Perkins took Augustus’ place in the starting lineup and set season highs in minutes played (36), assists (seven) and rebounds (six).
“We just try to do what we can to fill that void,” Perkins said. “Everybody has to give a little bit.”
“You gave a lot of bit!” Renee Montgomery, Perkins’ locker neighbor, said in a relaxed locker room.
So did Rebekkah Brunson. Moore finished with 24 points, but while she was on the bench, Brunson led the offense in the first quarter with five quick shots and finished the game with 20 points.
This was Brunson’s third game this season scoring 20 or more points. She did so Sunday with a mixture of post-up moves, drives and spot-up jump shots.
A season ago, Sylvia Fowles said, teammates made fun of Brunson’s shooting ability. Now she’s capable of stretching the floor. She hit two of five three-pointers Sunday and has made 19 this season. She’d never made more than one three-pointer in any of her prior 13 seasons.
That new wrinkle in the Lynx offense spreads the floor for Fowles, who had 29 points and 12 rebounds.
“Rebekkah is a lifesaver,” Fowles said. “She did everything we needed her to do.”
Brunson and Fowles scored the 14 of the Lynx’s first 16 points out of halftime to create an 11-point lead that would hover around double digits the rest of the way.
Fowles, who faced double- and triple-teams and said Sunday’s game had the most sustained physicality of any all season, took seven shots in the third quarter, when she scored 14 of her points.
“Reeve gave me that eye,” Fowles said before winking, “like, go-to-work-type thing.”
So Fowles went through double- and triple-teams. And afterward she spoke with the confidence this entire team seems to have now, while it experiences a high level of success, even relative to recent seasons.
“You try not to be selfish when you’re getting double- or triple-teamed,” Fowles said. “But at the same time, when you’re capable of doing it, why not?”
A bit later, point guard Lindsay Whalen jokingly came from behind Fowles and asked how the center defeats the defensive looks she sees. Minnesota’s guards help, Fowles made sure to say.
The WNBA trade deadline is 7 p.m. Monday, and Reeve said the Lynx have no intentions of making any moves. After all, Sunday was the first time since Aug. 6, 2013, that Minnesota had three players score 20 or more points in a game.
With so much going right for the Lynx, Reeve even joked a member of the team is expendable.
“The cat’s out of the bag,” she said. “You guys heard we’re trading Seimone?”
New logo coming
The Lynx announced they will unveil a new logo Aug. 11, when they play Los Angeles. The logo change comes after the Timberwolves switched logos for 2017-18 as well.