It’s not like the first half was the worst. Really, it was a wash. A back-and-forth first two quarters with the Las Vegas Aces had seen the Lynx lead by 15, trail by four, then take a four-point edge into halftime Sunday.
But then they talked.
Coach Cheryl Reeve showed them video of them not playing the right defense. Adjustments were made.
And then the Lynx played their best 20 minutes of the season.
The Lynx, in their second game of a four-game homestand, beat the road-weary Aces 98-77 at Target Center.
It wasn’t as close as the score indicated.
The Lynx set season highs in points and shooting percentage (58.8) and matched a season high with 27 assists.
This against an Aces team that entered the game best in the league in field goal defense (39%).
“This is huge,’’ said guard Danielle Robinson, who had her best game in a Lynx uniform. By far. She scored 23 points, made nine of 13 shots, had eight assists and two steals. On defense she held the Aces’ Kayla McBride, who had scored 42 points in the first two games between the two teams, to four points on 2-for-11 shooting.
“This is the time to gain momentum going into the playoffs,’’ Robinson said. “That’s what we’re striving for.’’
The Lynx evened their record at 15-15 and are in seventh in the WNBA, a game ahead of Phoenix. Their magic number for clinching a playoff spot is one. They are a half-game behind Seattle for sixth place, which comes with a home game in the first round of the playoffs. Indiana kept its faint playoff hopes alive by beating Seattle on Sunday night.
As good as the game’s numbers were — the Lynx’s shooting and scoring were the most the Aces (19-11) allowed this season — the second half’s were better.
Up four at halftime, the Lynx poured it on in the second half, outscoring Las Vegas 53-34, shooting 67.7%, scoring 20 points off 10 Aces turnovers, leading by as many as 26 points. Las Vegas, the league’s most potent team in the paint, scored 28 points there in the first half, just four in the second.
“This team we saw tonight, we know we can do this every single game,’’ said Napheesa Collier, who scored 23 points — 16 in the second half — with six rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals. “It’s about coming out strong and executing.’’
And about finishing.
“In the first half, if we didn’t turn ’em over, they scored,’’ Reeve said of Las Vegas. “And we talked a lot about that. We wanted to do better.’’
They did. All five Lynx starters were in double figures. Damiris Dantas scored 11 while keeping A’ja Wilson in check. Fowles (14 points, six rebounds, two blocks) set the tone early, slowing down Liz Cambage much of the night.
“It was very important for me to come out and play the way I played tonight,’’ said Fowles, who scored 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting in the first quarter. “I made sure I set the tone, made sure my teammates followed.’’
Fowles had 10 in the first, Lexie Brown six in the second, then Collier led the Lynx with 16 in the second half, during which the Lynx starters shot better than 76%.
Now the Lynx have won two straight and have home games against Chicago (Tuesday) and Sunday (Indiana).
“Everyone has highs and lows in the season,’’ Collier said. “No better time to get on a high than at the end of the regular season.’’