Danielle Robinson had just played her best game in a Lynx uniform Sunday.
The Lynx had buried the Las Vegas Aces and Robinson was a huge part of it. Back at starting point guard for the second straight game, Robinson scored 23 points on 9-for-13 shooting with eight assists and two steals. In a second half in which the Lynx outscored the Aces 53-34, she scored 12 points, making all four of her shots and getting to the free-throw line five times.
And she wanted to talk about none of this.
Robinson wanted to talk defense.
In the Lynx’s first two games with the Aces — both losses — forward Kayla McBride had scored 42 points. On Sunday, Robinson was given that assignment. McBride’s final line: Four points on 2-for-11 shooting.
“She’s part of their big three,” Robinson said. “You slow her down, you slow the team down.”
Robinson has played most of two seasons with the Lynx. Last year her season ended because of an ankle injury, one that came just as it appeared she was finding her rhythm with that veteran team.
Her season this year has had its ups and downs. She began the season as a starter, then came off the bench for seven games after Seimone Augustus’ return.
But, back as a starter the past two games Robinson appears to have found a comfort level.
“I think the thing is, there is real clarity about what she’s doing,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “With what she’s doing, and why she’s doing it.”
Reeve is willing to take the blame for some of Robinson’s struggles. She pushed Robinson to play the point a certain way, for example asking her to read pick and roll coverages on the fly and encouraging her to take open threes when presented.
Instead, Reeve and Robinson lately have worked to focus on what Robinson does best. Pace of play, for example; the Lynx have been very effective on the run the past two games, both double-digit victories.
And Robinson finally has embraced the idea of making other teams pay for playing off her in order to double-team center Sylvia Fowles.
You could see that Sunday, when Robinson would go into a corner, get the ball, then dribble into a midrange jumper — what Reeve calls her sweet spot. Or when she would attack the rim.
“She has accepted the challenge,” Reeve said. “She’s been very intelligent in the way she’s playing. The game is probably slowing down in her head a little more.”
The change actually started during the time Robinson came off the bench. In her past eight games Robinson has averaged 12.1 points and 4.5 assists.
“I’m always ready when my number’s called,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what position [Reeve] puts me in. I’m just going to come in and try to do my part.”
The Lynx will need all of that Tuesday, when a very hot Chicago team comes to town. In many ways the opposite of the paint-packing Aces, the Sky likes to spread the floor, shoot threes and get out in transition. Robinson will be needed on both ends of the court.
“She’s doing a good job getting the ball to Syl [Fowles] and Damiris [Dantas],” Reeve said. “She’s highly confident.”