Sunday night at Xcel Energy Center, Lynx point guard Lindsay Whalen didn’t score. Her backup, Renee Montgomery, had only four points.
But they might have been the two most important players in an 80-66 Lynx victory over San Antonio that wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicated.
Whalen had 10 assists in just over 20 minutes of playing time. Montgomery had seven in just under 20. They were the reason the ball was moving so well, that so many Lynx players were scoring, that Minnesota (6-0) stayed the WNBA’s only undefeated team. The Lynx led by as many as 28 points and were up 25 when coach Cheryl Reeve emptied the bench with 5 minutes left in the game.
“That was really special,’’ Reeve said. “Moving the basketball. I thought both of them played great floor games. They managed the game really, really well.’’
Playing their third consecutive game against a winless opponent, the Lynx were a little out of sorts to start the game. Struggling to guard the Stars’ pick-and-roll game early, the Lynx were down by seven late in the first quarter.
What followed was the first of two key stretches. A lineup of mainly bench players came in and — with a tweaked defensive scheme that stressed switching on the pick-and-roll, went on a 12-0 run that started with Plenette Pierson’s three-pointer to end the first quarter. As Reeve described it, that group put out the fire.
The other key moment? Pretty much the entire third quarter. After outscoring the Stars 18-9 in the second quarter, Minnesota buried San Antonio (0-5) with a 26-8 third that began with a 20-4 run. It was a 10-minute stretch in which eight Lynx players scored, combining to hit nine of 18 shots while holding the Stars to 3-for-13 shooting.
After that it was pretty much over. Minnesota scored 30 points off 25 Stars turnovers, dominated in the paint and had a season-high 28 assists on 33 field goals and a season-high 13 steals.
Center Sylvia Fowles had 14 with 12 rebounds. Rebekkah Brunson and Maya Moore had 13 points each. Seimone Augustus had 12 points and Natasha Howard had 10 points off the bench.
But none of that happens without the floor play of the Lynx guards. For Montgomery, it was the second strong game in a row since Reeve challenged her to do more a week ago. Whalen? The Lynx improved to 55-2 since 2010 when she gets seven or more assists.
“On nights like tonight, when the shot isn’t falling, it’s easy to try to find people,’’ Whalen said. “It’s always a fine balance — when to shoot, when to attack, when to find my teammates. You’ve got Sylvia, Seimone, Maya and Brunson. Great players. It’s pretty easy to dish it out and get a lot of assists.’’
On a night when Whalen and Montgomery were a combined 1-for-14 shooting, they helped the rest of the team shoot a combined 53 percent.
Kayla McBride led the Stars with 18 points. Kayla Alexander added 14 off the bench for San Antonio, which shot 7-for-27 over the second and third quarters.
The Lynx now have five days off before playing in Seattle on Saturday. This victory sent their record to 23-0 in May dating back to 2012.
Lynx players said they have found a rhythm in the past two games.
“We had a stretch there where we forced it a little bit,’’ Whalen said. “Everyone has taken a breath. … We’ve all been making the reads. It has felt good, the last two games, the ball movement.’’