The good news to come out of the Lynx's two-point victory over Los Angeles on Friday at Target Center?
Maya Moore showed she has moved her game up a step with the onset of the playoffs, scoring 33 points against the Sparks in a victory that put Minnesota up 1-0 in the best-of-three Western Conference semifinals. It was her best total in a playoff game.
And Seimone Augustus showed that she needed about 3 minutes to shake off the rust of a monthlong layoff, scoring 17 points. Moore and Augustus combined for 50 of Minnesota's 67 points, 31 of 34 in the second half. Each scored six points in Minnesota's 12-point fourth quarter.
But here's the bad news: The Lynx can't hope to finish this series off Sunday in L.A. with a two-person team. And that was the message coach Cheryl Reeve gave her team in the moments after Friday's victory.
She needs more.
"We need more out of Lindsay [Whalen]," Reeve said. "We need more out of [Anna Cruz]. And we need more out of [Sylvia Fowles].''
With the Lynx rotation tightened up to basically seven players for the playoffs, Reeve needs more. Whalen, who missed the final four regular-season games with a strained Achilles' tendon, played 25 minutes, took just three shots, scored two points and had one assist. Cruz played some strong defense off the bench, and led the team with five assists, but turned down more than a few open looks. She was 1-for-4 for two points.
And then there was Fowles.
Against the formidable Sparks frontcourt of Candace Parker, Nneka Ogwumike and Jantel Lavender the Lynx did some good things. Power forward Rebekkah Brunson's impact, for example, went far beyond her six points and six rebounds.
Brunson did a good job covering Parker for much of the game; Parker scored 16 points but needed 16 shots to do it. And then, late in the game after Ogwumike had started scoring, Reeve switched Brunson onto the Sparks power forward, forcing two key late L.A. turnovers.
Fowles? She started the game well. She scored the game's first basket, then blocked Ogwumike, leading to Moore's fast-break three-pointer.
And then she kind of faded. Fowles took just five shots, making two. She had nine rebounds and four assists. But she also turned the ball over four times. In Sunday's 2 p.m. rematch on the campus of Long Beach State University, the Lynx need Fowles to be the double-double machine she became after being traded to the Lynx after the All-Star break.
"They loaded up in the paint," Reeve said. "As you should, when you have a 6-6 center. I though we did a bad job of putting her in a position to be successful. It's something we're going to look at.''
The key, as always, is ball movement. The Lynx had it at the start of the game and in the third quarter, and Minnesota scored 22 points in those two quarters. But they didn't have much of it in the second or fourth quarters, when Minnesota was outscored 37-23.
Moving the ball will create better shots, which in turn will force the Sparks to come out of the paint.
That said, Fowles needs to be more assertive as well.
"She was deferring, but you have to understand, that was her first playoff game with us," Reeve said. "… But my parting words in the locker room were, 'Syl, I need you in L.A. I need you.' "