Because of the combination of injury and absence Lynx coach and GM Cheryl Reeve was forced to throw some uncertainty into the mix as the 2022 season started.

That could be seen in Friday's season opener in Seattle, a 97-74 loss.

With a starting lineup that included a replacement player in Yvonne Turner and Odyssey Sims playing only days after signing, the Lynx forged a halftime tie but fell apart in the face of defensive pressure in the third quarter.

Seattle opened the second half on an 18-2 run and never looked back.

When it became apparent Layshia Clarendon wasn't going to be 100% healthy, Reeve included the point guard in her cuts this week while signing Sims. With Damiris Dantas hurt, Kayla McBride still in Europe, Angel McCoughtry home with a sore right knee and Napheesa Collier about to give birth to her first child, the Lynx signed Turner and Nikolina Milic as replacement players.

Even Reeve, when asked before the game, wasn't sure where the offense was going to come from.

She was right.

"At times we were really good," Reeve said. "At times not so good. Any time you're playing a team as good as Seattle, on their floor, you can't give up the easy stuff. The No. 1 key was not turn the ball over. And we didn't get that done in the third quarter."

Seattle turned seven Lynx turnovers into 12 points in their third-quarter, 34-14 blitz that had the Storm up 20 entering the fourth. It was a quarter in which the Lynx also missed makeable shots, going 3-for-11 in the paint. Forced into the halfcourt for much of the second half, their offensive woes bled into the defensive end.

"Their bench destroyed us," Reeve said of Seattle's 39-26 edge over Lynx reserves. "We answered their runs in the first half. That didn't happen in the third quarter. They turned up the pace, got good shots off our misses. The ball started going through the net for them, and they turned it up a little more and things got progressively worse for us."

Sylvia Fowles finished with 16 points and Aerial Powers had 14. But Powers went scoreless in the second half and Fowles had just four. Jessica Shepard had nine points and 12 rebounds in one of her best games in a Lynx uniform.Seattle had extraordinary balance. Jewel Loyd scored 17 points and Sue Bird had 11 points and nine assists. After a slow first half, Breanna Stewart scored 17 points with eight rebounds as Seattle outscored the Lynx 56-33 in the second half.

After shooting 42.5% in the first half, the Lynx shot 14-for-39 in the second.

Sims scored nine points in her first game back with the Lynx. Milic, in her WNBA debut, had seven points and six assists in 12 minutes.

But it was the meltdown in the third quarter that led to Minnesota's most lopsided season-opening loss.

"Besides missed shots and turnovers, it was us rushing and not cashing in on our opportunities," Fowles said. "I started the third missing two gimmies in a row, and that kind of kick-started things to unravel."

And, unlike in the first quarter, the Lynx couldn't mount a rally.

"Like I said, I liked the last couple practices we had," Fowles said. "When we're aggressive our defense is really good. The second half we got away from that. Let them start running plays."

The Lynx will look to rebound Sunday at home against Washington. "This game doesn't define us,'' Powers said. "We're still learning each other."

The Star Tribune did not travel for this game. This article was written using the television broadcast and video interviews before and/or after the game.