Wednesday's scrimmage with a touring Chinese national team was not on the Lynx's original preseason schedule.
But when first-year Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve heard there was an opportunity to play China, she eagerly agreed especially since her team did not have an exhibition game during the last week of training camp.
"It is something we wanted because we knew we had late arrivals, and it might be the only game they get to play in," Reeve said. "That was the idea. It worked out well."
The Lynx beat China 79-56 in a physical contest on the Target Center floor. Except for the lack of fans, everything else simulated a typical exhibition. Three WNBA referees called fouls. The coaches coaxed and yelled.
Minnesota led only 35-32 at halftime before pulling away the second half.
"It was not a game that we were looking to gain momentum to go into the next one," Reeve said, referring to the Lynx's season opener at Tulsa on Saturday. "This was a game we were trying to reward some players that have been here with us. Give everybody some playing time."
Four Lynx players scored in low double figures. Monica Wright and Quanitra Hollingsworth had 12 points apiece, Charde Houston and Gabriela Marginean 10.
"I was disappointed in our offense," Reeve said. "We just have to have sharper execution. I liked what they were doing to us defensively. It was very physical. They trapped a little bit.
"My understanding is in '40 minutes of hell' --Tulsa's intense pressure defense -- there is a little bit of trapping involved there," Reeve said. "So that was good. It was good to see that. We had worked [Wednesday] morning against some trapping."
Wright, the rookie guard from Virginia, was only 5-for-16 from the field. That's a concern because Reeve said she would start Saturday.
"Monnie is one of those players -- obviously, she does a great job getting her shots," Reeve said. "And most of them are good shots. Just inconsistent. I'm looking for her to be a more efficient player as we count on her pretty heavily to score."
Hollingsworth, the 6-5 second-year center, was the epitome of proficiency. She made all four shots she took from the field and four of five free throws. At times she also was on the floor with Nicky Anosike, who slid over to forward. Anosike has been the Lynx's starting center the past two seasons.
The Lynx shot 41.5 percent from the floor, which is not bad. But they were 2-for-11 behind the arc. Not so good. And, at the free throw line, the Lynx were just 23-for-33, or 69.7 percent.
"We have a fine jar in the locker room," Reeve said. "Missed free throws, turnovers, those sort of things, missed layups. It's an honor system. It is called pay-the-money-jar. I exempted this game from the fines and I might have to renege on that and collect some money [Thursday]."
Reeve was pleased with her team's rebounding and defense. The Lynx outrebounded China 46-18, paced by 6-2 forward Hamchetou Maiga-Ba with 11. The Chinese team had success on three-pointers, making eight of 20 shots from behind the arc, but made only 12 other baskets. China shot 33.9 percent overall.
"I saw defensively a team that really started to understand how to be hard to play against," Reeve said.
Besides Wright, Reeve said she has three of the other starting spots determined. Lindsay Whalen will be the point guard, Houston one of the forwards and Anosike the center.
"I am going to be big on combinations," Reeve said. "In that starting group, with those four being set, who is going to be the best complement. And, as you know, it is not who starts the game, it is who finishes the game."