Cheryl Reeve knows what it takes to win a WNBA championship, having won four in a seven-year stretch to establish the Lynx among the league's most successful franchises.

It's a past to be proud of.

Coaching a new generation of players to uphold that pedigree was not an overnight process, with or without Reeve.

The reality of the Lynx's slow-burning route back to success was especially illuminated Thursday, when they trailed the Connecticut Sun from start to finish in an 89-68 loss at Target Center that dropped them to 4-9.

"We're still striving for some of those really pivotal winning things, identity-wise," Reeve said before the game.

Sun guard Tiffany Hayes scored 14 points in the first quarter alone, concluding her night with a team-high 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting that included four threes. The Sun followed her lead from distance and made 12 threes at a 48% clip that enabled them to push a modest 13-point halftime lead into 20-plus-point territory, which the Lynx struggled to escape for much of the second half amid severe offensive struggles.

They shot 31.6% from the field and 18.2% from beyond the arc, a category in which they ranked second-to-last in the league entering Thursday's matchup.

"If we're playing a team that is struggling equally as us [offensively], then we kind of hang in there and that's what we saw in the games that we had success in," said Reeve, who coached her team to wins in three of its previous four games.

As has been almost routine for the Lynx this season, players not named Napheesa Collier paled in comparison to her production as the Lynx's lone bright spot. With No. 2 overall pick Diamond Miller (right ankle) and a couple of other rotational players sidelined, Collier's teammates shot a combined 15-of-56 from the field.

Reeve noted that Miller, who has now missed eight games, is "closer to the end than the beginning" of recovery. But she provided no new timeline for Jessica Shepard (non-COVID illness) or Aerial Powers (left ankle), who Reeves said was set to return from an earlier right ankle injury before Powers sprained her opposite ankle upon returning to practice.

"It's just a part of the game, like it's not something that you can really mope about," Collier said. "It happens to every single team. Every team has someone hurt. It happens every single season. You're going to have players hurt and you have to be able to move on from that and not think of it as an excuse. We haven't brought that up one time."

Collier tallied 21 points on 9-of-20 shooting as part of an overall stellar individual performance that proved her point. She also had seven rebounds, four steals and two assists.

"[Napheesa] is just such the focal point that you have to run every play for her," Reeve said. "And that gets really hard because everybody knows that."

In an attempt to neutralize momentum after the Sun's 19-6 start, the Lynx narrowed their deficit to single digits with a Collier three-pointer and an assisted Tiffany Mitchell finish — and perhaps another unanswered bucket, if they came up with a loose ball. What appeared to be a lost possession was instead capped by Hayes' third three-pointer, which DiJonai Carrington soon followed with a three of her own.

"The hustle plays, the 50-50 balls: We did not get to them," Reeve said.

Suddenly, the Lynx found themselves down 12 points due to a lack of execution in an early but otherwise critical tone-setting sequence — something Reeve noted pregame as a work in progress.

"Knowing how to get a stop, knowing how to be efficient on offense at key times, and what you're running, why you're running it — the details to get you the great shot," Reeve said. "That's what past teams have done that we try to impart to this team.