Dallas Wings coach Fred Williams walked out of Xcel Energy Center’s visiting locker room Wednesday afternoon, took a look at the day’s boxscore, and sighed.
“Top level,” he said, referring to Lynx center Sylvia Fowles. “I mean, she has no fear scoring, no fear defensively. She’s on an MVP level.”
Leading from start to finish in front of a crowd of 17,834 comprised mostly of loud children here for the team’s annual camp day, the Lynx surged into the All-Star Game break by swamping Dallas 100-74.
And while just about everything went right for the Lynx who, at 16-2, have a 2 ½-game lead over Los Angeles for best record in the WNBA, it was Fowles who once again stood out.
The big Lynx center destroyed the Wings inside. She hit 10 of 11 shots and scored 24 points with 12 rebounds in 25 minutes of playing time. If the Lynx clearly are the team to beat this season, Fowles is the clear leader in the MVP race.
She, along with teammates Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus and Rebekkah Brunson, will be in Seattle for Saturday’s All-Star Game. You can bet the MVP talk will be rife there, too.
“I think about it ’cause all the talk is about it,” Fowles said. “I try not to focus on it.”
There are other, bigger goals, certainly. Coach Cheryl Reeve, who will be coaching the Western Conference team Saturday, made sure to make that point after Wednesday’s matinee.
“I told them, not a bad first half of the season, going into the break,” Reeve said. “They didn’t know whether or not to chuckle. But it’s 18 games. I know we have 16 more. We have an endgame in mind. … The regular season is, for us, about positioning ourselves for the championship. We have to stay focused on that.”
Given the team’s championship pedigree, Reeve likely doesn’t have to worry.
But, as in years before, there are reasons for this 16-2 start, the best in franchise history.
The Lynx shot 56.7 percent while holding Dallas to 34.7. They held a 41-28 rebounding edge. Moore — who tied her season high with 23 points on 9-for-15 shooting — is starting to heat up. The bench also had another strong game. Brunson had 12 points and six rebounds. Augustus scored only seven, but had nine assists.
But the biggest reason for their success is the team’s biggest player. Fowles heads into the break averaging 20.1 points on 67.1 percent shooting, with 9.8 rebounds.
Williams knows. He watched Fowles score 81 points in three games against his team this season. The Lynx have beaten the Wings, who moved to Dallas from Tulsa last summer, seven consecutive times and 28 out of the past 30 games between the teams.
With the Lynx determined to get off to a strong start, it was Fowles’ nine points leading the way in the first quarter. And it only got worse for the Wings (10-12), who got 23 points from their All-Star, Skylar Diggins-Smith.
“The name of the game, if you are playing at an MVP level, is consistency and dominance in what you do,” said Moore, who won the award in 2014. “And that’s what she’s brought the first half of the season. It’s been really fun to watch her.”
But this season is only half over.
Fowles pledged to keep paying attention to the details, saying the big picture would take care of itself — and that big picture includes vying for a fourth league title in seven seasons.
Said Moore: “No doubt we’re pleased with our record. At this point in the season you want to celebrate that. But we’re halfway through. We’re focused on where we want to be as a team.”