MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Lynx are rolling as the postseason approaches.
However, everything isn’t going quite as smooth as coach Cheryl Reeve and forward Rebekkah Brunson would like.
Brunson had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen also scored 19 points each to lead Minnesota to a 92-83 victory over the Tulsa Shock on Friday night.
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“I’d prefer to spread our minutes around and dominate a team from beginning to end,” said Reeve, whose team trailed by eight halftime. “That didn’t happen.”
Seimone Augustus had 18 points and Taj McWilliams-Franklin added 14 as all five starters scored in double figures and accounted for all but three points for the Lynx (21-4). Minnesota won its eighth straight and beat Tulsa for the 11th straight time.
Riquna Williams scored 21 points and Ivory Latta had 19 to lead the Shock (6-20), who had won two straight and were playing for the third time in four nights. Roneeka Hodges added 12 points and Courtney Paris had 10.
“First half it looked like everyone had their legs,” Latta said. “Second half they really did pressure us on defense and got a lot of opportunities on fast-break points. They capitalized on it. That hurt us and fatigue definitely started setting in.”
The Lynx opened the third quarter with a 9-0 run, going ahead 57-56 on Augustus’ 3-pointer with 6:38 remaining.
The teams changed leads three times and were tied twice as Augustus’ 3 put the Lynx ahead for good, at 66-65 about 3 minutes later. Minnesota closed the third with nine consecutive points — including two 3s by Moore — to take a 77-67 lead heading to the final period. That was part of a 15-0 run that put the Lynx up 16 with about 8 1/2 minutes remaining.
“We knew we weren’t playing at a level we needed to play at,” Brunson said. “This is a team that was playing very well and we knew they weren’t going away and weren’t going to hand us anything. We definitely just had to turn it up.”
Turn it up they did. The Shock got no closer than nine again.
Williams scored 17 points in the first half to help Tulsa take its eight-point lead at the break. The Shock’s reserves — the league’s top-scoring backups — outscored their Lynx counterparts 31-0 in the first 20 minutes.
Crashing the boards also helped Minnesota come back. The Lynx outrebounded Tulsa 44-25, including 18-6 on the offensive glass.
“It’s something we really work on in practice. We go against the guys,” Brunson said. “It makes us a little bit tougher and we know we have to go extra hard just to contend with them and we’re bringing that extra intensity to the game and it’s working out for us.”
While Minnesota is gearing for the playoffs, Tulsa is far out of the postseason picture. But after beating Los Angeles on Thursday and giving the Lynx a run on Friday, the Shock aren’t playing like it.
“We’re building chemistry right now,” Latta said. “The coaches told us to be patient and when the chemistry comes, the wins are going to come.”
Chemistry isn’t a problem for Minnesota, the defending WNBA champs. But Brunson knows a first half like the one they played Friday won’t fly in the playoffs.
“We know we still have some improvement to do,” she said.