Time, as Cheryl Reeve pointed out a couple of times after Tuesday’s game, is running out.
“We keep saying, ‘On to the next one,’ ” Reeve said after her team had blown a six-point lead with 4:17 left, watching Diamond DeShields and the Chicago Sky blow by in a 91-88 loss.
It was the second consecutive loss for the Lynx, both at Target Center, where they are just 8-8 this season.
And it kept the Lynx (17-15) entrenched in seventh in the WNBA, with the reality of a road, single-elimination playoff game on Tuesday — two days after Sunday’s regular-season finale — looming larger by the day.
Seeming more resigned than angry, Reeve ticked off all the things that hurt her team Tuesday. The 17 turnovers that Chicago turned into 22 points. Missed free throws (seven). How DeShields, who scored eight points in a row in Chicago’s comeback, was unstoppable, ultimately sending Maya Moore to the bench with six fouls.
“Diamond just destroyed Maya Moore,’’ Reeve said.
But the bottom line is, well, the bottom line. The Lynx, who have spent the better part of a decade closing out games just like this, aren’t doing it anymore.
Chicago shot 54.8 percent Tuesday, nearly 58 percent in the second half.
“We built a lead, and we didn’t get stops,’’ Reeve said. “We didn’t guard ’em. We gave ’em layups, actually. Unfortunately, these are games we think we know how to win.
“But this team … we’re kind of forgetting how to get those. To dig in. Get a stop. Execute.’’
And time is running out for a fix.
DeShields, a rookie, scored a season-high 28 points on 11-for-15 shooting, including 3-for-3 on three-pointers. Courtney Vandersloot had 16 points and 10 assists. Allie Quigley had 13 points, including a spinning basket in the lane with 57.9 seconds left that put the Sky up, 89-88, for good.
Moore scored 21 points with five rebounds and three assists before fouling out with 1:59 left.
Sylvia Fowles had 19 points and 13 rebounds, becoming the sixth player with 3,000 rebounds in her career in the process. Both Tanisha Wright and Seimone Augustus were in double figures, too, with 14 and 12 points, respectively.
“We had some chances to get some stops,’’ Moore said. “Disappointed not to get ’em. … It doesn’t feel good right now. But we have a couple of days and we have another game.’’
Down five early in the fourth quarter, the Lynx got nine points from Moore and seven from Fowles in a 16-5 run to go up 84-78 on Fowles’ layup with 4:17 left. And then: DeShields. On four consecutive possessions she scored, driving left, right, off the glass. She just changed the entire game.
After taking the six-point lead, the Lynx managed just four points — all free throws — in their final 10 possessions. They were outscored 13-4 down the stretch.
“She’s aggressive,’’ Moore said of DeShields. “Attacked the paint, hit her open shots. Made us pay for mistakes. She had a great night.’’
But the Lynx still had a chance. The Lynx had the ball, down one, coming out of a timeout with 19.7 seconds left.
The result: turnover. The Lynx didn’t get a shot off.
Vandersloot hit two free throws with 2.2 seconds left to put Chicago up three; Alexis Jones’ three-pointer at the buzzer was off the mark.
Earlier, Vandersloot broke the WNBA’s single-season assists record with a no-look, one-handed pass in the third quarter that gave her 237 assists, breaking Ticha Penicheiro’s mark set in 2000.
“You can feel when there’s connection,’’ Reeve said. “That defensive connection. I feel like we’re always just a little tick off. It takes just one person not to be where they’re supposed to be.’’
And now, just two regular-season games left to figure it out.
“You have 34 regular-season games, and you have a playoff game,’’ Reeve said. “You can’t still be talking about the same things once we hit Tuesday.’’