Once again an injury will force Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve to restructure her rotation.
The Lynx issued an update on the injury Sylvia Fowles sustained in Thursday’s loss to Las Vegas. She left the game 83 seconds into the first quarter, needing assistance to get off the court. The team said Friday it was a calf strain and that Fowles would indefinitely out.
That would appear to indicate the injury — Fowles had already missed two games this season with a strain in one of her calves — is not likely to cost Fowles the season, but that the team will have to play a while without her.
It’s a blow to the Lynx, who had relied on Fowles on both ends of the court. She entered Thursday’s game averaging 16.6 points and 11.3 rebounds and was the team’s top rebounder and rim protector.
In the two games Fowles missed before Thursday, Reeve went with a smaller lineup, moving Damiris Dantas to center and Napheesa Collier to small forward and inserting Bridget Carleton into the starting lineup. That lineup could be a problem against teams with a strong inside presence, such as Los Angeles or Las Vegas.
On Thursday, Reeve gave significant minutes to backup center Kayla Alexander and Erica McCall in the post.
Alexander, who had played sparingly before, responded with 11 points on 5-for-8 shooting with two rebounds and two blocks in just under 12 minutes. McCall scored six points with six rebounds and three blocks in 17 minutes.
“If Kayla can play like she did today, we’ll take it,’’ Reeve said after Thursday’s loss. “She’ll get a lot more opportunity. We’ll try different things. We did play a couple games without Syl. We’re sort of familiar what needs to happen and what our rotations will be.’’
Signed as a free agent during the offseason, Alexander had scored just six points in seven prior appearances. But her minutes will be ramped up during Fowles’ absence.
“If she is as effective as she was[Thursday], we’ll be in good shape,” Reeve said. “We do need more rebounds from her.’’
The Lynx play the New York Liberty on Saturday afternoon, a team they beat without Fowles earlier this season. After that game the Lynx don’t play again until Wednesday against Dallas. That would give Reeve and her staff at least one day of rest followed by two practices to work on their rotations.
One good sign Thursday was the 21-point, 14-rebound performance turned in by Collier. It was her season-high in points and career-high in rebounds. The Lynx (6-3) will need to lean on Collier more than ever in Fowles’ absence.