So can 10 dominant minutes make up for a week’s worth of frustration?
Judging from the mood in the Lynx locker room following Saturday’s 80-63 victory over Tulsa at Target Center? Perhaps.
It was 10 minutes in which the Lynx turned a tight game into a laugher, with the team clamping down on defense, finishing out a game in a manner becoming of a team about to start its defense of the WNBA title.
And it was important. “Yeah, very important,” said Maya Moore ,who led the Lynx with 19 points and 12 rebounds, finishing the season as the league’s leading scorer and the only player to score in double figures in every game. “We wanted to execute what we talked about, to go out and do it at home. This was the last chance to put an exclamation point on the end of the regular season.”
The Lynx entered the game on the heels of three consecutive losses, including one at San Antonio on Friday. During those losses the Lynx had struggled to defend, stumbled at times on offense, and saw close games escape them.
Through three quarters Saturday it seemed the team was following the same MO, with Tulsa guard Odyssey Sims scoring in droves and the Shock guards breaking down the Lynx on the perimeter.
But then the fourth quarter happened.
Sims hit a three-pointer in the first minute of the fourth, giving her 31 points and the Shock a one-point lead. From then on it was all Lynx. Sims never scored again. The Shock only managed one more basket, finishing the fourth quarter with five points, matching the lowest total the Lynx have ever allowed in the fourth quarter.
Over the next 7 minutes, 16 seconds, the Lynx outscored the Shock 19-0, with Moore scoring seven points.
It was a fourth quarter worthy of the defending champions, one in which the Lynx held Tulsa (12-22) to 2-for-17 shooting and outrebounded Tulsa 17-8. With every basket, every steal, every point, the frustrations of the last week melted away.
In its place: history. The Lynx (25-9) became the first team in WNBA history to win at least 25 games in four seasons in a row.
“There is not a group I think would deserve more what these guys just accomplished,” coach Cheryl Reeve said. “For us to do it this season, with the amount of adversity we’ve faced, I’m really impressed. I feel blessed to be a part of it.”
And just about everybody felt better about the team after the way the game ended.
“It was big,” said Seimone Augustus, who bounced back from a swollen left knee that kept her out of Friday’s game to score 14 points on 4-for-10 shooting.
“First of all, we wanted to get the win at home. And, of course, we always want to make history. And just for confidence sake, we want to have that flow that we need going into the playoffs.”
Because that’s the next step. The playoff opener is Thursday.
Note: The Lynx announced before the game that 11-year veteran forward Rebekkah Brunson had signed a multiyear contract extension.