There was a weariness in Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve’s voice Friday, likely the result of having traveled to the Twin Cities from Connecticut that morning. But make no mistake: The result of Thursday’s disappointing 93-89 overtime loss to the Sun, in which the Lynx led by 11 with 1 minute, 59 seconds left in the fourth quarter, weighed heavily.
“It’s discouraging because historically, we’ve been unbeatable when we have leads like that,” Reeve said. “Losses like that are really a kick in the gut.”
The loss to Connecticut — wasting a 40-point effort from Maya Moore — came just eight days after the defending WNBA champs suffered a similarly ignominious defeat to New York. They led the Liberty by 15 points with a little more than six minutes to play but surrendered the lead and lost 95-92 in overtime.
Two such losses in a short time span forced Reeve, an avowed big-picture advocate, to admit there may be a bothersome trend forming.
“It’s fair to say,” she said. “Earlier, we were resistant to the idea of a pattern forming, but it’s happened in some of our victories, too. We’ve communicated that to the players. We want them to have a heightened awareness of it.”
Reeve sees the relinquishing of leads, regardless of the outcome, as more troublesome than their recent three-game slide, of which the loss to New York was third.
“That was no different than any other team in the league,” Reeve said. “Every team, except probably L.A., has a few losses that disappoint them.”
But with three championships over the past five years and with four Olympians on the roster in Moore, Sylvia Fowles, Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen, the Lynx are clearly different from other WNBA teams. So what gives?
“We’re beating ourselves, and that’s not us,” Reeve said. “That’s for other teams to do, not us. When we’re up 11, we’re supposed to win that game. That’s what the Lynx do.”
To make that happen, Reeve said the Lynx have to get back to making the plays they’ve made so many times before. Effort, she said, is the pillar supporting everything the team has accomplished.
“It’s nothing extravagant,” she said. “It’s making the down-and-dirty play, digging out a rebound, getting through a screen, making a deflection. We’ve done those things so many times before.”
It’s all relative, however, and the problems of the Lynx, who have the league’s second-best record at 15-4, would seem minor to most other teams. Success has made them a target. Opponents have no trouble getting motivated to play Minnesota.
“We have to play our best every night. Other teams are always gunning for you and you get their ‘A’ games,” Reeve said. “But we’re used to that. It’s been the case since, probably, the second half of 2011 [the first championship season]. When you go on the road, the crowd comes out to see you and if they win, they celebrate like they won the championship.”
Not that she’s complaining. “I’d certainly rather have it that way than any other,” she said. “Our team is equipped to handle the pressure.”
Lynx will honor shooting victims
The Lynx will have a moment of silence before Saturday’s game in memory of police shooting victims Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, and the five Dallas law-enforcement officers killed Thursday.
“It’s a disturbing time, a sensitive time,” Reeve said. “Thoughtful communication and dialogue are important. Anything we can do to impact that, we will do.”