Seconds into what would become an 86-70 victory over Atlanta, Lynx center Sylvia Fowles deflected a Tiffany Hayes pass, creating a turnover. The ball went to Maya Moore, who immediately returned it to Fowles, who was getting up to speed.
And then, a strange sight: Fowles, all 6 feet 6 inches of her, dribbling the length of the Target Center court, scoring and getting fouled.
“Well, thanks to Maya, with that nice pass, I had no choice,” Fowles said. “I didn’t want to turn it over, so I just went in for the layup.’’
Fowles was not the top Lynx scorer Friday. That honor went to Moore, who scored 21 points. She has scored 20 or more in 10 straight games, which puts her three shy of Diana Taurasi’s league record of 13 set in 2006. Fowles played 23 minutes and finished with 12 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and a steal.
Moderate numbers that don’t show the impact Fowles, in her second game since being traded here on Monday, had on the game.
Over the first half of Minnesota’s dominating first quarter, Fowles had a steal, a block, four points and she changed numerous other Atlanta shots in the paint. By quarter’s end, the Lynx had a 26-9 lead and the Dream had as many turnovers and fouls as points.
That’s called setting a tone.
After feeling, by her own description, two seconds off in her first game with the Lynx, Fowles felt better Friday. And her play offered a glimpse of the high ceiling her addition could mean.
“She’s having fun,” said Moore, who made just six of 21 shots but had 10 rebounds, five assists and two steals. “She is confident in who she is. She brings so much energy. When we do things together, in rhythm, it’s really hard to guard.”
Afterward, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve admitted that she put Moore, who had 19 points, back into the game in the fourth quarter in order to keep the 20-point streak going. “I wasn’t going to be the coach that caused her to end the streak,’’ Reeve said.
Lindsay Whalen scored 15 points for the Lynx (14-4), who led by 17 after a quarter, by 18 at the half, by 19 after three and by as many as 21 in the fourth, when Reeve — mindful of Saturday’s game in Tulsa — started sitting down her starters.
Seimone Augustus remains out and Anna Cruz missed the game after spraining an ankle Wednesday. But Tricia Liston and Asjha Jones each scored in double figures off the bench. Liston had 10 points and three assists. Jones scored 12 with six rebounds. Renee Montgomery, who made her first start for the Lynx, added nine assists and six points.
Reeve was thrilled with the way her team played defense early, not as much late. But, overall, given the injuries and the process of integrating Montgomery and Fowles into the mix, she was pleased.
And Fowles was one of the biggest reasons why the Lynx were so effective out of the gate.
“She played well, at both ends of the court,” Reeve said. “In terms of the game plan, she was locked in.’’
And Fowles is feeling better. “I felt I got a bounce-back this game,” she said. “I actually felt good this game. And I’m happy to see things are moving forward for me.’’
Not for Atlanta (7-12), which lost its fourth straight. The frustration was apparent with four technicals called against the Dream. Hayes led the team with 15 points. Damiris Dantas and Reshanda Gray — former Lynx players involved in the three-team trade that brought Fowles here — scored nine and seven points, respectively.