Lynx aim to gather steam vs. Tulsa
By MATT BEARDMORE,
The Olympic break was unable to slow down the league-best Minnesota Lynx.
It’s unlikely that the WNBA’s worst team will do so.
The Lynx go for a fourth straight victory Sunday night when the Tulsa Shock try to end a 10-game losing streak in this series and a road slide that’s lasted nearly a year.
After sweeping a home-and-home set with Tulsa leading into the league’s month-long hiatus – and ending the club’s first three-game skid since 2010 – Minnesota (16-4) returned Friday with a 98-69 victory over Washington.
The Western Conference leaders scored a season-high 32 points off turnovers and had their best assist output of 2012 with 29.
“I told our players it was really fun to watch,” coach Cheryl Reeve said after the Lynx improved to 10-1 at home. “It was everything I hoped it could be in that game coming back.”
The Lynx have won the first three meetings with Tulsa this season by an average of 18.7 points and are undefeated in this series since a 92-79 road loss June 4, 2010.
There’s little reason to believe that will change Sunday as Minnesota fields one of the league’s most balanced teams with Rebekkah Brunson, Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Candice Wiggins and U.S. Olympians Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, and Lindsay Whalen.
Moore has posted her three highest scoring games (26, 24, 28) of 2012 against Tulsa.
“They’re so deep. With Maya, she’s the ‘X’ factor, because she moves around so well,” Shock coach Gary Kloppenburg said after Moore matched a career high in scoring in an 89-74 home win July 12. “She’s just a complete player. To me, that’s the difference, what gives them that edge.”
Tulsa (3-16) has dropped 10 in a row away from home since a 77-75 victory over Los Angeles on Aug. 26.
The Shock begin a stretch of six of eight on the road following an 89-79 loss to San Antonio on Friday in their first game back from the break. They tied it at halftime after trailing by 14 but were outscored by 11 in the fourth for their third straight defeat.
“They are a good basketball team. They will beat people,” Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said. “Until the fourth quarter, we had a tough time. Defensively, (Tulsa) forces you to play faster than you want to.”
Still, the Shock are giving up the second-most points per game in the league with 84.3.
Minnesota is scoring a WNBA-best 87.3 per game, 9.0 less than its average against Tulsa.
Whalen has been a big part of that effort with 25 assists. She needs three more to pass Katie Smith for the franchise record with 497.