Lynx fight past Fever with fourth-quarter rally, pull into third place

Beating any team three games in a row is a difficult task, coach Cheryl Reeve said Friday.

Through two of three consecutive games against the Indiana Fever, that has proven to be the case for the Minnesota Lynx, despite Indiana’s league-worst  6-23 record. Two days after needing a second half surge to beat the Fever, the Lynx watched a 16-point first half lead evaporate at Target Center on Sunday. Trailing by two entering the fourth quarter, Minnesota needed to mount a comeback and did it convincingly, scoring 15 of the game’s final 17 to win 90-80.

“We came out really hard and then, for whatever reason, we sat back a little bit and they were able to get back in the game,” Napheesa Collier said. “We had to answer, and unfortunately it was a little late in the game, but we made it work. It shows the resilience of our team also.”

All five Minnesota starters reached double digits. Collier scored a team-high 22 points and added seven assists, six rebounds, four steals and a block. Sylvia Fowles finished with 18 points and eight rebounds and Aerial Powers continued a strong stretch of play with 17 points. Crystal Dangerfield, who has been starting in place of injured Layshia Clarendon, scored 11, nine of which came in the fourth quarter.

The win was a crucial one for the Lynx (20-10) as they moved ahead of Seattle for the No. 3 seed in the upcoming WNBA playoffs. The Storm (20-11) lost to Los Angeles on Sunday night, but they have the tie-breaker advantage over the Lynx.

With just two games remaining in the regular season, Minnesota’s lead over fifth-seeded Phoenix sits at one game after Phoenix lost on Saturday to Connecticut.
Minnesota’s final two games are considerably easier than both the Storm and Mercury, who face each other. Phoenix also plays second-seeded Las Vegas. The Lynx have one more game against the Fever before finishing the season at eighth-seeded Washington.

“You become a fan of teams I’ve never been a fan of before,” Reeve said. “We’ve played the whole season for this and we’re working hard to control our own destiny so we’re locked in ourselves believe me but… I’m paying attention.”

Unlike Friday, when the Lynx found themselves trailing the last place Fever after the first quarter, Minnesota jumped out to a quick 10-point lead. A 20-5 run that spanned five and a half minutes from the end of the first quarter to the beginning of the second gave Minnesota a commanding 16-point lead.

However, a hot shooting stretch from the Fever, including 12-17 in the third quarter, allowed Indiana to erase the double digit deficit rather quickly. Minnesota trailed by two as late as 4:55 left in the game.

“I think we are gelling,” Reeve said. “I think we’ve experienced some downs together. We understand what we have to do when our backs are up against the wall and things aren’t going our way and that’s what I enjoy more than anything.”

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