In the wake of the team’s first loss of the season – and, perhaps, because of the way the Lynx lost to Connecticut at Xcel Energy Center Saturday night – coach Cheryl Reeve tweaked her team’s schedule a little bit.
Normally, with so many days before the next game – the Lynx host a very good Washington team Friday night – the team would have gotten both Sunday and Monday off before returning to practice on Tuesday.
But Reeve had her team in for a rather intense practice Monday. The team will practice again Tuesday, take Wednesday off, then practice Thursday.
“Sitting around for two days stewing about it for a couple days before you practice is no good,’’ Lynx said. “We thought mixing it up would be a good thing.’’
Saturday the Lynx shot 51.4 percent, made seven of 16 three-pointers, scored 93 points.
That’s because Minnesota’s defense struggled all night with Connecticut’s pick and roll game. Reeve said what the Sun did wasn’t a surprise. But Connecticut's effectiveness, frankly, was. Especially the pick and roll game with guard Jasmine Thomas and forward Alyssa Thomas. The two combined to score 40 points on 17-for-31 shooting, with 14 rebounds, 14 assists and three steals.
“They did a good job,’’ Reeve said. “Jasmine got our post players too far away from Alyssa, and we couldn’t get back. We weren’t rotating behind it very well, and really – whether it was that play or other plays – we just didn’t get there. If we did help, we weren’t helping the helper. [The Sun] is playing well, and we needed a really strong defensive effort to slow them down. And we were below average defensively.’’
As a result the Sun scored 98 points on 55.4 percent shooting, making 10 of 22 three-pointers, out-rebounding the Lynx 36-21 and blocking nine Lynx shots.
The good news is Reeve said Monday’s practice was a very good, productive one. “This is a mature group, and lot of them spoke about the competitive practice we had, cleaning some things up,’’ Reeve said. “They felt it was good to get back out together and grind together, get some emotions out.’’
There were other problems. For all their points, the Lynx didn’t do a good job of getting the ball to center Sylvia Fowles in good positions, something the Minnesota guards have done well all season. Fowles took a season-low nine shots and tied season lows with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Connecticut’s 6-6 center Jonquel Jones finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and four blocks. Jones fronted Fowles a lot, something the Lynx are usually able to take advantage of.
“One of the reasons Syl has been so successful is that we’ve given it to her on time and on target,’’ Reeve said. “That didn’t happen in most cases [Saturday]. I felt we gave her some terrible passes. We’re lobbing the ball from half court over a 6-6 player. Syl likes to be fronted, it’s OK with her. She carves out space and works you up the lane. But you can’t lob it from half court. We had great recognition at times when we played from the weak side of the floor and threw it in to her. When we did that, she caught it and scored. But we didn’t do it consistently enough. And it wasn’t her best game, in terms of demanding the ball. I think she let other parts of the game that we were frustrated with get in her head. She never got to the place where she could be dominant.’’
Both the Lynx and the Washington Mystics are in the same boat. Washington lost at home to Dallas Sunday, 87-83, in a game the Mystics led 66-59 entering the fourth quarter. Washington currently has the league’s third-best record (7-4), but are 7-3 when star Elena Delle Donne plays; she missed the Mystics’ loss to the Lynx in Washington June 9 due to injury.