Before Tuesday night’s game against Connecticut at Xcel Energy Center, four of the five Lynx starters and coach Cheryl Reeve were given Olympic rings from USA Basketball to honor their gold medal performance last summer in Rio.
Then the Lynx went out and played a game that wouldn’t, except for a little under seven minutes of wonderful play, be described as Olympic.
Turns out seven minutes of exceptional was good enough to make up for 33 minutes of sloppiness in an 80-78 victory over the winless Sun (0-3), one that kept the Lynx (4-0) perfect.
At least record-wise.
On the court? It is a statistical anomaly that the Lynx allowed 31 points off a season-high 22 turnovers and allowed the Sun to make 10 of 20 three-pointers. So Minnesota gave up 30 points both off turnovers and from behind the arc.
And still won in front of an announced crowd of 8,033.
“It’s a pretty amazing feat we just did,’’ said Moore, who scored 12 points. She was joking. “The 22 turnovers, obviously we’re not happy with that. But we found a way to win.’’
Thanks mainly to center Sylvia Fowles and Seimone Augustus. Coming off winning Western Conference player of the week honors, Fowles scored 21 points with 13 rebounds, five blocks and four assists. Augustus scored 16 points.
The Sun was led by Jasmine Thomas (18 points), Jonquel Jones (16) and Morgan Tuck (12).
“Here we are again talking about winning ugly,’’ said Reeve, whose team has committed 20 or more turnovers in two of four games. “We had moments when we were really good. We needed every bit of it.’’
Actually, it was 6 minutes, 49 seconds of really good.
It began shortly after Danielle Adams’ three-pointer put the Sun up 46-41 with 5:43 left in the third quarter. Augustus had seven points in a 12-0 run that put Minnesota up for good at 53-46 on Moore’s 13-foot shot on the break. It was the start of a 26-8 run that bled into the fourth quarter; Renee Montgomery’s three-pointer early in the fourth quarter put the Lynx up 13.
Then the turnovers returned. Seven of them over the final 7:05, which enabled Connecticut to pull within two on Tuck’s three-pointer with 19.8 seconds left. Whalen missed two free throws with 18.6 left. The Lynx forced the Sun into a jump ball with 2.2 seconds left. Connecticut won the tap but couldn’t get a shot off in time.
Another win, albeit more difficult than necessary. Reeve said part of the problem is fatigue. Three of the four Lynx starters didn’t play over the winter. They are fresh but perhaps not in complete game shape. But Tuesday Fowles was great, as was Augustus. Rebekkah Brunson moved into fourth place, all-time, in career rebounds (3,017) and past the 10,000-minutes played mark.
And the Lynx are convinced they can clean up the mistakes.
“Throughout my time here we’ve been a pretty low turnover team,’’ Whalen said. “We have to really focus on taking care of the ball.’’
Reeve pledged to play her bench more until all the starters have their legs. She will continue to depend on Fowles, Augustus and Moore, who has struggled with her shot through four games.
Bottom line? The Lynx are 4-0. The team has a 21-game winning streak in May dating to 2012. Winning ugly is still winning.
“It wasn’t perfect, and we have a lot of work to do,’’ Reeve said. “But you have to appreciate that.’’