The Lynx usually don’t waste any time taking a lead and running with it. But on Friday against the Tulsa Shock, the Western Conference-leading Lynx struggled to break away from the worst team in the conference and lost their third consecutive game.
A failure to make crucial defensive stops snapped the Lynx’s 10-game winning streak on Aug. 8. Throughout Friday’s game at the Target Center — an 83-77 loss — it appeared the Lynx hadn’t learned from their mistakes.
Candace Wiggins and Nicole Powell hit back-to-back three-pointers in the first three minutes of the game to give the Shock (8-17) the lead.
“That’s something we try to do all the time, set the tone,” Lindsay Whalen said. “We didn’t get the job done.”
Seimone Augustus, who scored her 4,000th career point, was the bright spot for the Lynx Friday, scoring 14 first-half points, including a long jumper with less than four seconds left to cut the Shock’s halftime lead to two.
Defensively, however, the Lynx looked lost even with the return of Janel McCarville, who missed the past two games because of a concussion. But Rebekkah Brunson, the team’s top rebounder, didn’t play because of a knee injury.
“We’re down a player in Brunson. Our post needed to be able to stay out of foul trouble, they needed to play better,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “That didn’t happen.”
The Shock, who came into the game fourth in the league in three-point field goal percentage, went 6-for-17 from beyond the arc against the Lynx. That hurt too.
The Lynx trailed by 10 points into the fourth quarter, and Augustus quickly scored back-to-back field goals in the opening seconds. She stopped at center court and let out a victorious scream to fire up her team as a timeout was called with 9:22 left.
Augustus, the fourth-fastest player to reach 4,000 points, finished with 29, her third 20-plus-point performance this month. But in the end, the same problem that started the Lynx’s losing streak — the lack of defense at critical moments — was the same one that helped extend it. Liz Cambage, a 6-8 center, finished 8-for-12 from the floor for 27 points for the Shock.
Despite the three-game losing streak, the Lynx still have the best record in the WNBA.
Shock players were laughing and dancing on the sidelines during the final timeout of the game, visibly excited about knocking off the top team on its home court and beating the Lynx for the first time in 15 games.
“Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us,” Reeve said, “and we can’t hide.”