There wasn’t any yelling or screaming. Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve didn’t have to lay down the law or throw down a gauntlet. Everybody knew what had to happen.
It was just: Do better.
In the first half Friday at Target Center the Lynx didn’t defend San Antonio very well and never really found a rhythm on offense. When rookie center Damiris Dantas was dropped by nasty flying elbow to the forehead by Kayla Alexander in the second quarter, she appeared as woozy as the team.
But it got better, thanks to a mighty run. The Lynx rallied from three down at halftime to beat the Stars 88-72, in front of an annouced crowd of 8,734, thanks to a 33-10 third quarter.
It was a run fueled by defense, finished on offense. It was fast, and it was rather stunning.
“I don’t know what even happened, to be honest,” said center Janel McCarville, who scored all seven of her points in the quarter. “I mean, one minute they were winning and next thing we’re up 20. It all happened in the blink of an eye. Everything clicked. I’m going to go check it out later. I have to see how good it was.”
The Lynx scored the first 17 points of the quarter. It was a run started by Dantas, who returned from that hit with a huge lump on her noggin to score a career-high 17 points. Dantas hit two free throws, Maya Moore (26 points) hit a three-pointer. McCarville hit from the baseline, Lindsay Whalen (19) drove for two and Dantas scored again.
And the Lynx (6-0) were off.
By the time the quarter had ended, the Lynx had turned nine Stars turnovers into 18 points, shot 11-for-19 and gotten points from seven players.
“We knew we could play better,” said Reeve, who was still unhappy with the blow that dropped Dantas to the court, initiating a strange sequence. Lynx athletic trainer Chuck Barta raced onto the court to see if she was OK, incurring a technical foul.
Afterward Reeve insisted Alexander should have been called for a flagrant foul, said the officials should have allowed the Lynx to call a timeout, then joked that Barta was going to be fined.
But then, it was easy to joke after the way the Lynx played in the second half, holding the Stars to 36.7 percent shooting. Indeed, the final result would have been more one-sided had the Stars not hit 14 of 28 three-pointers; Reeve vowed the team would do better in that category in Sunday’s rematch.
“They just laid a hit on us, and we didn’t respond very well,” said San Antonio coach Dan Hughes, whose team was led by Jia Perkins’ 15 points.
The two teams get a rematch Sunday in San Antonio, and the Stars (3-3) will get a team that is getting healthier; forward Devereaux Peters, who had left knee surgery three weeks ago, played 3-plus minutes.
The Lynx hit their stride not long after their rookie center returned from a nasty hit. Perhaps it was fitting that Dantas scored the Lynx’s last points, a three-pointer with 7 seconds left.
“She’s like Mike Tyson,” Seimone Augustus said. “She can take one, and give one back.”