Web Editorial Associate
The Minnesota Lynx came into Thursday night’s game as the top team in the WNBA.
Following its showdown against the Los Angeles Sparks in St. Paul, it remained that way.
In a battle of the top two teams in the WNBA, Minnesota topped Los Angeles 88-77 on Thursday at Xcel Energy Center.
“I loved the start we got off to. I thought that we were pretty locked in and focused, which is what you expect. We dictated a lot of the action and I felt we had them back on their heels initially. Offensively, we put the ball in the hole pretty consistently with the big lead,” Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve said after the game. “They made some adjustments and made some changes in their lineup and got a little more aggressive on defense. . . We made some key plays and some really big times both defensively and offensively.”
The Lynx got off to a hot start out of the gate, leading by as much as 19 points in the first half.
They didn’t look back from that point on.
Renee Montgomery was the spark off the bench Minnesota was looking for, finishing with 12 points, three steals, one assist and one rebound in 10-plus minutes in the opening half. She finished the game with a season-high 20 points (4-of-5 from three), four assists, three steals and two assists.
“This is why you play basketball. When you are putting in the extra work, going to the gym when nobody’s there and I’m just getting shots up, you’re getting shots up for those moments,” Montgomery said. “You’re not getting shots up for when you’re up 20. You’re putting up shots and you’re putting in the extra work for the big games where every point matter because you never know how it’s going to go. As a player, those are the players you dream about.”
The bench as a whole gave the Lynx a lift, outscoring the Sparks bench 33-19 in the game.
Along with Montgomery, Fowles had 20 points and 13 rebounds, Seimone Augustus had 16 points, five rebounds and three assists, Maya Moore had 10 points, five rebounds and three steals, Plenette Pierson had nine points and five rebounds and Rebekkah Brunson added five points and seven rebounds.
“The bench outscored them 33-19. Obviously led by Renee, but I thought overall Plenette (Pierson) got a lot of work done in 13 minutes of play. Jia (Perkins) came in there and made some big plays both defensively and offensively,” Reeve said. “The bench was huge and that’s exactly what we asked of them before the game was to make sure they were ready to contribute today because we needed them.”
Nneka Ogwumike led the way for the Sparks, finishing with 27 points and 14 rebounds. Chelsea Gray had 16 points, Odyssey Sims had seven points off the bench, Alana Beard had eight points, five rebounds and five assists and Jantel Lavender had six points and three rebounds.
With the win, Minnesota improves to a WNBA-best 13-1 overall and has won four straight games. Los Angeles drops to 12-4 overall, seeing its eight-game winning streak come to an end.
“There were moments that were really good and there were moments that we need to clean some things up. Both teams are going to walk away with things to work on and things they are happy about,” Moore said. “Just continuing to lock in our schemes a little bit better. We just have to take the things we did well and continue to do that and clean up different things here and there.”
Highlight Of The Game
As time expired in the third quarter, Montgomery sunk a three at the buzzer to give Minnesota a 68-61 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Montgomery had 15 points, three steals and two assists in the first three quarters alone.
The Numbers Game
- The Lynx held a 20-16 advantage over the Sparks in second chance points.
- Minnesota out-rebounded Los Angeles 39-28 in the game.
- The Lynx shot 47.9 percent from the field, including 42.9 percent from three. The Sparks shot 48.5 percent from the field and 25 percent from behind the arc.
Player Of The Game
Thursday night’s Lynx Player of the Game goes to Renee Montgomery.
The 20-point performance was Montgomery’s first 20-plus point game since Sept. 7, 2012 when she scored 25 points against Phoenix as a member of the Connecticut Sun.
The Lynx will hit the road to take on the Chicago Sky at 7 p.m. Saturday night in Chicago. The game will be aired on WNBA League Pass and 106.1 BOB FM.