Seimone Augustus will not repeat what she said to her Lynx teammates last week in Seattle. Ditto for what Lindsay Whalen offered up as the Lynx stumbled out of the gate.
She can’t. It’s simply not fit for print.
“We don’t use the best language, sometimes, when we’re expressing ourselves,” Augustus said. “But somehow, we can press buttons with our teammates, get that light switch turned on.”
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve always is talking about her team’s embarrassment of riches when it comes to talent and leadership. The latest example came in Seattle where, after the Lynx fell behind by 18 points in the first half June 25, Augustus and Whalen got just a little upset.
“Me and Whalen are the same person,” Augustus said. “If you believe in the zodiac and stuff, we’re both Taurus. We’re very tough, hard-nosed people. We don’t talk a whole lot. But when we do, people listen to what we say.”
It’s too early in the season to talk about turning points. And it’s not like the Lynx, 7-2 entering Friday’s rematch with the Storm at Target Center, started the season poorly. But talk to coaches and players and they will tell you that, even while winning, the Lynx haven’t been playing their best.
That was the case early in Seattle, where the Lynx came out and got blitzed in a first half in which the Storm scored 51 points and shot 54.1 percent.
Enough, Whalen and Augustus said.
In the six quarters since, then the Lynx have played their best basketball of the season. They held Seattle to 22 second-half points, outscoring the Storm 32-13 over the final 16 minutes for a 76-73 victory. Two nights later, they beat defending WNBA champion Phoenix 71-56 at Target Center.
Augustus scored 14 of her 24 points in the second half of that comeback in Seattle. Whalen scored 16 points with six assists in Seattle, then followed that with a 21-point game against Phoenix, earning WNBA Western Conference player of the week honors in the process.
“I love the way they talked the talk and walk the walk,” Maya Moore said of her teammates. “I’ll follow them into battle.”
For Whalen in particular, it was an important week. By her own admission, she wasn’t thrilled at how she had played to start the season. By the time her team was down 18 in Seattle, Whalen had about had it.
“We were just tired of giving up leads, getting down,” Whalen said. “We just said: ‘Enough is enough. If we’re going to go down, let’s go down swinging.’ And we were able to turn it around.”
And so was Whalen.
“I was determined that day to get to the paint and make something happen,” she said. “I’ve done that for so many years. I felt I was being really passive and kind of settling for a lot of things.”
This is just the latest in a long list of games where Whalen has helped will the team to a victory. Last year in San Antonio in the Western Conference semifinals, Whalen scored a career playoff-high 31 points in a game the Lynx found themselves trailing by 18, carrying the Lynx to a come-from-behind, series-clinching win.
It happened again in Seattle, where Whalen and Augustus getting intense picked up the whole team.
And it carried over to the victory over Phoenix. The Lynx now enter Friday’s game just a half-game back of Tulsa in the Western Conference, knowing that the team appears very close to finding its groove.
Augustus said that in the Phoenix game, for the first time, things felt “normal.” The team was playing good defense and flowing on offense. She and Whalen can take a lot of the credit.
“It was make-or-break for us,” Augustus said. “If we were going to be the defensive team we’d been in prior years, if on offense we were going to start spreading the ball around, it had to start happening.”