Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Lynx, Whalen Knock Off Sun 111-103

The Minnesota Lynx, behind a stellar effort by local favorite Lindsay Whalen, ran out to 10-0, 15-2 and ultimately (at 4:14 of the 2nd period) 51-21 leads over the Connecticut Sun.

The final score was 111-103.

In overtime.

The Sun regrouped, beginning with a 15-7 run to close the 1st half, and then dominated the Lynx in the 2nd half, 59-37. Sun back-up point guard Renee Montgomery, whom the Wolves traded to Connecticut to get Whalen during the off-season, hit a 3 at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.

This will be reported as the signature game (so far, at least) for Whalen in her 1st season with the Lynx, and rightfully so, as she scored a season-high 27 points and added 12 assists against her former teammates.

Whalen scored 7 points during the game's first 5 minutes as Minnesota jumped out to that 15-2 lead. Later, in the 2nd quarter, as the Lynx stretched their lead from 17-11 to 51-21, Lindsay contributed 7 assists. The Lynx offense was clicking on all cylinders, as 11-of-13 shots and all 6 3 point attempts found their way through the hoop through the 4:14 mark, when the Sun began their comeback.

It must be noted that as solid as Whalen was on offense, so was her opposite number, Montgomery, who led the Suns with 33 points. During the 2nd half, Whalen and the Lynx showed an all-too-familiar inability to defend the basket as Connecticut slowly but surely fought their way back into the game. From 58-36 at the half, they got within 75-68 on a 3 by Kara Lawson with :02 left in the 3rd.

They kept the pressure on in the 4th, getting within 77-70 at 8:57 and 81-75 at 5:36. A Tina Charles putback at 3:03 made it a 1-possession game (85-82). The Lynx fought back but 8 straight points by Montgomery kept it at 3 points (93-90) with exactly 1 minute remaining. Disaster nearly struck as the Lynx missed 4-of-6 FT inside of 1 minute and Montgomery's 3 tied it at the buzzer.

It was all Lindsay in the OT, however, as she scored 8 of the Lynx' 16 points and assisted on 2 more. A steal off of Montgomery by Nicky Anosike with the score tied at 103 and 1:09 remaining set up the FT shooting contest, and this time the Lynx hit 8-of-8 down the stretch to clinch the win.

The play-off ramifications are significant. The Lynx now lead L.A. by a full game for the 4th and final Western play-off slot, while the Suns dropped 2 full games out of the Eastern play-off picture. The Suns' fate is of extreme interest to the Lynx because Minnesota owns Connecticut's 1st round draft pick in 2011 (aka the Maya Moore Sweepstakes). If the Lynx should fall out of the Western play-offs, they would own 2 of the 4 lottery draft picks. I'm not convinced that's not the play. But either way, a win against the Sun at home was an imperative. The Lynx made it harder than it needed to be, but their play in the 1st half and OT was a thing of beauty and--defensive short-comings aside--reminded people why they love to watch Lindsay Whalen with a basketball in her hands.

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