Sunday, September 18, 2011

Silver Stars Turn the Tables on the Lynx

After 6 straight losses to the Minnesota Lynx, the San Antonio Silver Stars turned the tables Sunday night, and how. The Stars beat the Lynx 84-75 in a game that wasn't as close as it sounds, and evened their playoff series at 1 game apiece. The 3rd and final game will be played Tuesday night at the Target Center.

San Antone took early leads of 7-2, 13-8 and 17-12. The Lynx tied it up at 18 and 20, but quickly found themselves down 31-20 as the Stars ripped off an 11-0 run during which the Lynx went 0-for-8 with 2 turnovers. They fought back within 40-37 at the half as Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen and Monica Wright scored the final points of the half.

The Lynx got within 40-39, but the Stars scored another 13 straight as the Lynx went 0-for-7 with 2 more turnovers. The Stars also blocked 3 Lynx shots during their 2 big runs. From there it was a game of hide and seek in which the Lynx never found a way to get back into it. The closes was 77-69 with barely more than a minute remaining.

So, from a micro perspective, the Stars did to the Lynx what the Lynx have been doing to everybody else the past couple of months--and that is, ripping off 2 runs worth a 24-0 advantage. Macro, well, both teams shot poorly in the Lynx' victory on Thursday night, and the Lynx continued to do so and San Antone did not. The Lynx shot 30-for-76 (39.5 percent) while the Stars made 28-of-65 FG (43 percent). Well, that's not much of a difference. But unlike Thursday, it was San Antone that got to the FT line, 29 times to the Lynx' 15, and they out-scored the Lynx 22-11 on FT.

Meanwhile, the Lynx won the possession game with a vengeance by out-rebounding San Antone 45-30, including 21-8 on the offensive end, though the turnovers were 16-9 in favor of the Stars. The key match-up between point guards Lindsay Whalen and Becky Hammon went to Hammon this time, 18 points, 6 assists and 2 steals to Whalen's 15, 3 and 1, though the turnovers were Hammon 2 and Whalen 1.

So what do the Lynx have to do to avoid what would be a shocking loss on Tuesday night--shocking, that is, in light of their season's record of stellar play, 27 wins and just 7 losses; but utterly foreseeable in light of San Antonio's inspired effort so far?

1. Shoot better.
2. Get a little better scoring from the supporting cast of Rebekah Brunson and Taj McWilliams-Franklin, who are scoring 4 ppg each, and from the bench that scored more than 30 points on numerous occasions throughout the season but has scored only 21 in the 2 games of this series combined.
3. Win the possession game, but win it on turnovers as well as offensive boards.

There. That's been the Lynx' formula. They need to get back to it. San Antone has shown the skill and resolve to keep them from doing it. Tuesday night will be an intense battle of wills between 2 very solid clubs.

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