Welcome back, Maya.
The Lynx badly needed a win tonight and got exactly what the doctor ordered, defeating the Chicago Sky in decisive fashion, 85-64, behind an ultra-efficient 31 points from Maya Moore.
Moore had struggled lately, averaging just 10.5 points per game since returning from the All-Star break. However, those struggles affected neither Moore’s confidence in herself nor her teammates’ confidence in her. That trust paid off tonight. Moore came out shooting and never looked back, finishing with a game-high 31 points on 11-17 shooting, including four three-pointers. Chicago had no answer for Moore’s quick release, supreme athleticism and crafty dribble moves. Whatever the Sky defense threw at her, Moore had an answer. Her hot shooting led to several frustrated timeout calls by Chicago head coach Amber Stocks.
On a night where Minnesota was missing two of their veteran starters, Rebekkah Brunson (broken nose) and Lindsay Whalen (rest), the Lynx needed their supporting cast to step up. Step up they did. Danielle Robinson and Cecilia Zandalasini started (Zandalasini’s first WNBA start), and held down the fort admirably. Zandalasini scored 11 with three three-pointers on 50 percent shooting from the field, and if Moore hadn’t been going scorched earth on the Sky, Robinson might have been the player of the game. The speedy backup guard scored 12 points and added 11 assists and four steals in what was debatably her best effort in a Lynx uniform.
Minnesota’s defense was also phenomenal. Holding Chicago to just 64 points is an impressive feat in and of itself, but perhaps more impressive was the Lynx’s ability to get critical stops. When Chicago jumped out to an early lead, Minnesota answered and only allowed 12 points to the Sky in the second quarter. After a hot third period by Minnesota’s offense, the Lynx put the final nail in Chicago’s coffin when they only let them score 11 in the final period. Chicago shot just 34.3 percent on the night, and gathered just seven offensive rebounds.
Through the first two quarters the Lynx were a bit sloppy, turning the ball over 14 times in the half. Still, they mustered enough offense to take a one point lead into halftime. In the third quarter, the Lynx took over, dropping 29 points and leading by 15 by the end of the period. They never looked back in the fourth quarter, outscoring their opposition 17-15 in the period to seize the 21 point victory.
This type of dominance on both sides of the ball won’t happen for the Lynx every single night, but it has to feel good to get such a decisive victory in a road game coming off of a series of tough losses. With the win, Minnesota moves into sixth place in the WNBA, a position that would give them home court advantage in the first of two potential one-game playoffs. Every win counts, and Minnesota doesn’t have long to celebrate their victory—they take on the Aces in Las Vegas on Thursday.