Lynx outclass Washington, extend winning streak to five

What started as a blowout turned into a nail-biter, then a comfortable win.

In the end, the Lynx had the last run, using a dominating fourth quarter to beat Washington 93-75 Saturday and complete a perfect four-game homestand.

Napheesa Collier had 21 points and nine rebounds, and Kayla McBride added 15 points for the Lynx, winners of five straight overall and 13 of 15.

But the bench again was crucial. The non-starters outscored Washington 39-18.

Aerial Powers finished with 20 points and Rachel Banham came in to score 13 points, including a trio of treys, and a season-high eight assists.

“AP’s energy is great for us,” Collier said. “We have a lot of kind of even-keeled people on our team for the most part. She’s definitely the most hyped one and brings a lot of energy when she’s like that.”

As for Banham?

“The fact that she’s such a good three-point shooter brings the defense out, which helps everybody else, and she’s able to drive too and dish” Collier said. “Just keeping our offense flowing and creating things for other people, and making sure everything runs smoothly.”

Minnesota (18-9) moved percentage points ahead of Seattle into third place in the WNBA standings with five games remaining, two games behind second-pace Las Vegas, whom the Lynx play Wednesday in Sin City. The top two seeds receive a bye to the semifinals, and the third and fourth seeds receive a bye to the second round.

Its lead whittled to two late in the third quarter, Minnesota outscored the Mystics 27-13 in the fourth quarter, including 5 of 9 from three-point range.

“The last couple games we turned down a lot of open shots. Our emphasis in this game was to let it fly,” said coach Cheryl Reeve. “That’s the thing I’m most pleased, when we were open, we shot it.”

Minnesota finished 52.9% from the field, including a season high-tying 11 makes from outside the arc.

The Lynx held Washington to 38.7% from the field, the fourth straight opponent Minnesota has kept under 40%. The last time that happened was July 2019. The team record is six straight in July 2013.

“Overall, I love where our team defense is, coupled with our rebounding. I thought tonight we had more lapses than we have been seeing, but that’s probably a byproduct of how much Washington can spread you out,” Reeve said..

A 27-4 run gave the Lynx a 44-23 lead late in the first half.

Minnesota was getting the ball inside to Collier and Sylvia Fowles, Powers was driving with authority, and Banham (twice), Bridget Carleton and McBride hit from outside the arc.

Fowles finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.

But Washington (10-17), which has lost seven of nine and 11 of 14, scored 35 of the next 49 points.

Then the Lynx regained their mojo.

“A lot of it was just ball movement on the offensive end, just moving it around. It helps when you hit a couple shots, too,” Banham said.

A layup from Natalie Achonwa started a 17-0 run, that included back-to-back threes from Powers, McBride and Banham for an 81-62 cushion 3½ minutes into the final frame.

“It was about identifying why it wasn’t pretty and what we’re doing and making those adjustments,” Collier said. “We know that everyone is good in the league, so they’re going to go on runs. But we just have to make sure it’s because of what we’re doing.”

Ariel Atkins led the Mystics with 25 points, and Tina Charles had 12 points and eight rebounds.

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