The Lynx got an extremely important win on Tuesday night, beating the Atlanta Dream 85-65 at Target Center.
While the Lynx have shown a frustrating tendency to let opponents back in games lately, there was none of that tonight. After a rocky first half in which the team relied heavily on Sylvia Fowles to keep them in it, the Lynx exploded out of halftime, outscoring the Dream 28-16 in the third quarter and maintaining that advantage in the fourth to come away with an easy victory.
That response out of halftime was encouraging. Head coach Cheryl Reeve said after the game that she was not pleased with the defensive execution early on but was satisfied with the response coming out of the break. Being able to make in-game adjustments and stick to them down the stretch is an important next step for the Lynx as they work towards building what has the potential to be a very competitive team.
It would be ridiculous not to talk about Steph Talbot’s onslaught—she led the team with 24 points including a career-high five threes. She was outstanding tonight and you can read more about her night here. Talbot was not alone, though. Fowles ended up with 16 in an up-and-down battle (mostly with the officials) and Odyssey Sims turned in 15 of her own to go along with eight assists.
Danielle Robinson was also impressive. Though her stat lines don’t jump off the page she’s been excellent managing the team for the last few games and Reeve has been very happy with her point guard’s play calling. Robinson’s growth and developing consistency over the last few weeks has been an under-the-radar storyline for a team that, while fighting through injuries, just refuses to lie down in the face of adversity.
Not a game goes by that Napheesa Collier doesn’t make several plays that help swing things in the Lynx’s favor. She has been absolutely incredible for them. While she doesn’t always score— her shot was a bit off and she scored just six points—she never lets that prevent her from playing winning basketball.
Collier had 11 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks, playing up a position at the power forward spot. Being guarded by more physical players is part of the difficulty of moving up a position, but she’s not giving up an inch on defense. Jessica Breland and Brittney Sykes (Atlanta’s starting forwards) were held to just 14 combined points and a lot of that had to do with Collier.
Lynx fans might just be used to it now, but the way Collier plays does not look like other rookies. She responds to and incorporates feedback quickly, she plays hard on every single possession, she hardly ever gets in her head and she has an already-elite understanding of positioning in the WNBA.
This is just the beginning for Collier. She’s going to be special.
The Lynx travel to take on the Sun in Connecticut on Saturday. That will be a tough one but the last time the two teams met it was a real battle.