There were 2 minutes and 52 seconds left in Minnesota's rout of Dallas at Target Center Tuesday when, during a timeout, Aerial Powers make sure to let Moriah Jefferson know:
You need three more rebounds for a triple-double.
The game was well in hand. After Minnesota's blistering start, the Lynx were on their way to a 92-64 win, their most impressive of the season. They had shut the Wings down, pounded them on the boards.
Jefferson, playing against the team that waived her May 9, already had 13 points and 10 assists when, during the timeout, Powers grabbed Jefferson's shoulders.
"She came up right in my face, and shook me,'' Jefferson said. "She screamed, 'You need three more rebounds.' I'm like, 'OK.' "
Said Powers: "I put everyone on notice. She only needs three. Y'all box out and let her get the rebound.''
Seconds after play resumed, Dallas' Awak Kuier missed a rebound and Jefferson swooped in.
The focus on the 14th triple-double in WNBA history — by 10 different players — and the first by a Lynx player shouldn't take away from other really important numbers.
Like how the Lynx (6-14) have now won three out of their past four games. Or how they tied a franchise record with 58 rebounds — the most in a non-overtime game — and scored a season-high 25 second-chance points, the team's most since 2017. Or how the team hit a season-high 12 three-pointers.
Or that a team coach Cheryl Reeve has been pushing to play defense at the level of the resurgent offense held Dallas (9-11) to 17-for-59 shooting, a 28.8% effort that was lowest by a Lynx opponent this season. Or how Powers (20 points) got the Lynx started with 13 first-half points and set the defensive tone by holding Wings high-scoring guard Arike Ogunbowale to 16 points on 5-for-12 shooting.
It is a testament to this team's finally formed chemistry — the result of weeks of work, weeks of coaches pushing and players meeting — that Jefferson's teammates were standing on the sideline cheering her to history.
Reeve was thrilled with Jefferson's energy in the third quarter, after an impressive 50-24 first half, that kept the Lynx from a lull.
But, back to history. With 1:01 left, Dallas' Jasmine Dickey had her shot blocked by Bridget Carleton and Jefferson got the board. No. 9.
Jefferson said there was no added incentive, no special joy, in doing this against the team that waived her. It was more a thrill, she said, to be doing it with the team she has now. And that it came after she had a difficult game in a loss in Chicago Sunday.
"If not for my teammates, I wouldn't have gotten it,'' she said. "Everyone was yelling at me. I just started flying around.''
With 44.2 seconds left, after another missed Dallas free throw, Nikolina Mlic kind of took the rebound away from Jefferson. ("Nikolina did her best to try not to let me get it,'' Jefferson joked.)
But, with the bench yelling at Lynx players to miss shots so Jefferson would get a chance, things fell her way. With 5.8 seconds left, Carleton blocked a Dickey shot again and Jefferson got the ball.
Reeve said this is a different Lynx team than just a few weeks ago. Tuesday was the start of a six-game homestand, and she sees the team finding its stride. The team is healthier, better, more connected, she said. "We're more interested in each other than maybe we were in the beginning,'' she said.
Jefferson? After struggling in Chicago she heard it from Reeve and the coaching staff. Tuesday she became the 10th player in league history to have a triple-double.
"Hopefully, Coach, you're happy with what I did today,'' she joked. "If not, I'm sorry.''