Here is how the Lynx's three-game winning streak came to an end Tuesday in Washington, D.C.:
The Lynx didn't respond to the Mystics' physical play, and Minnesota had a hard time holding on to the ball.
In an 85-81 victory, the Mystics turned 21 Lynx turnovers into 23 points. It was turnovers that got the Lynx behind by 18 late in the third quarter, and it was a couple of key turnovers late that ended the Lynx's comeback bid.
"I thought their physical play gave us a problem,'' Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. "I thought our last two games with Atlanta, with their aggression and physicality, would help us with today's game. But we didn't respond the way I'd hoped.''
A strong start had the Lynx (3-5) up nine with 3:50 left in the first quarter. But Minnesota was outscored 63-56 over the next 22-plus minutes, ultimately falling behind 68-50 with 1:09 left in the third. And that was too big a hole.
Tina Charles scored 31 points with eight rebounds for Washington (3-5), who also got 19 from Myisha Hines-Allen and 17 from Ariel Atkins.
Napheesa Collier scored 22 with nine rebounds and four steals for Minnesota. Sylvia Fowles had 15 points, Layshia Clarendon 14 with seven rebounds and six assists.
But those turnovers: The Lynx starting backcourt of Clarendon and Kayla McBride had 11 turnovers. Fowles had four, Collier three. A difficult night for McBride included five points on 1-for-6 shooting; trying to find an effective lineup, Reeve did not play McBride in the fourth.
The problem? According to Reeve, too much east-west in the Lynx offense and not enough north-south. And when players did penetrate, they were late kicking the ball out, allowing the defense to collapse.
"We felt we got sticky when driving into the lane,'' Collier said. "Instead of us getting it out before they trapped us. They took advantage of that.''
For all that, the Lynx were in position to make it a game.
Down 18 in the closing moments of the third quarter, Minnesota ended the quarter on a 6-2 run to pull within 14 entering the fourth.
Minnesota pulled within 74-67 on Rachel Banham's three with 4:12 left. But Hines-Allen scored, then Crystal Dangerfield's turnover led to another Washington score and the lead was back to 11. Out of a timeout, Collier scored twice and Fowles made two free throws with 1:33 left to pull the Lynx within five. But Hines-Allen scored, then Clarendon turned the ball over with one minute left, ending Minnesota's last chance.
"It's very disappointing, especially because we fought so hard to get back,'' Collier said. "We put ourselves in position to be in the game. But we had so many turnovers. I felt they wanted it more throughout the game.''
The Lynx are now 0-3 on the road.
"Winning on the road is hard,'' Reeve said. "We needed to match Washington's intensity and desperation, and then exceed it. We never got to that point.''
"We have to get to the next one,'' Clarendon said, referring to Minnesota's game Saturday with Los Angeles at Target Center. "We have to learn to win on the road. We're still figuring that out. We're not going to completely freak out about this loss, but it was a winnable game, and that's what hurts the most.''
The Star Tribune did not travel for this game. This article was written using the television broadcast and video interviews after the game.