Tonight was a historic and emotionally-charged night at Target Center. Rebekkah Brunson became the WNBA’s all-time rebounding leader, Cheryl Reeve became the winningest female head coach in league history, and when all was said and done, the Lynx delivered the most exciting game of their season: an 83-72 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks.
In many ways, the first half was about the Lynx’s composure and the second about their heart. Early in the game, the Lynx used a focused and stifling defense to limit the Sparks’ opportunities. It would have been easy to come out panicked after a demoralizing loss to the Indiana Fever on Tuesday, but the Lynx stayed sharp and aggressive without committing unnecessary fouls or taking bad shots.
In the second half things got a little heated as both teams started playing more physically and Reeve was ejected in the fourth quarter following a double technical foul. The energy in the building after Reeve’s ejection was insane, and the Lynx fed off of it and put the game away.
The Sparks field an impressive frontcourt of Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike, but tonight Minnesota owned the paint. Brunson and Sylvia Fowles both went off; Brunson had 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Fowles scored a game-high 27 to go along with nine boards and seven assists. As a team, the Lynx outrebounded the Sparks 33 to 27.
Reeve has been stressing the importance of playing around Fowles rather than force feeding her the ball in bad situations, and tonight that plan worked perfectly. Fowles was effective in the post, but she was excellent passing out of double and triple teams as well—there wasn’t a player on the floor who didn’t get an open look because of Fowles tonight.
All in all, tonight was a great bounce-back victory for a group of players that were very disappointed in themselves after Tuesday’s loss. With the win, the Lynx have a record of 11-7. They are in fourth place in the Western Conference and fifth place in the WNBA. They are just 2.5 games back from the top spot in both.
Minnesota is on the road again this weekend and next week taking on Chicago and Indiana. They’ll be back at Target Center next Friday to face the Aces.