The Lynx were prepared for the best the Dallas Wings had to offer. What they weren't ready for were the contributions the Wings got from their role players, including two former Lynx. That proved to be enough to keep the Lynx from their first victory of the season.
The Lynx battled back from a 13-point second-half deficit, buoyed by a stellar performance from post Jessica Shepard, but fell 94-89 on Tuesday night in Dallas, dropping them to 0-5 on the season.
Dallas got 25 points from Natasha Howard, a 6-2 forward who played for the Lynx in 2016 and 2017 and a crucial nine points in the fourth quarter from former Lynx guard Crystal Dangerfield to help the Wings stave off a Lynx comeback attempt. Dallas also got 12 unexpected points from newly signed 6-7 center Kalani Brown.
Shepard played the entire game, scoring a season-high 15 points and adding 10 rebounds. Guard Kayla McBride, back after missing the two previous games while she was attending her sister's wedding, led the Lynx with 18 points, making four of five three-point shots.
"Jess was great tonight," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve told the media in a postgame Zoom conference. "The changes we ask her to make and things we impose on her. She battled, she was aggressive offensively. She was just incredible for us.
"And having [Kayla McBride] back was great. She's a really good leader and she's been through a lot of these types of situations."
Napheesa Collier and Tiffany Mitchell each had 17 points for the Lynx.
The Lynx lost first-round draft choice Diamond Miller for most of the game when she twisted her right ankle early in the second quarter and did not return. In 11 minutes, Miller had eight points, five rebounds and four assists in 11 minutes. She made all three of her shots from the field.
Dallas (3-1) presented the newest problem for the Lynx to solve. The Wings are a team that clearly uses forward momentum and an inside-out transition game to be successful. Two nights after witnessing the offensive excellence of the defending champion Las Vegas Aces, the highest scoring team in the league, the Lynx got another lesson in pedal-to-the-medal basketball from the Wings, the second-highest scoring team in the league and a group that rarely applies the brakes.
Dallas's 94 points — the third straight Lynx opponent to reach the 90-point mark — clearly had Reeve flummoxed.
"We've just go to figure out a way to be better on defense and hold teams down," she said. "What we're doing isn't working."
The Lynx looked like a team ready to jump into the win column early, hitting seven of their first nine shots from the floor en route to a 22-8 lead. Not only were they making shots — salve for a team that had suffered from shooting woes in its first four games — they were limiting Dallas' transition offense.
Dallas rallied behind their long forwards, 6-4 Satou Sabally and Howard. Sabally got hot from the three-point line, sparking a 24-9 run that erased the Lynx' advantage. Howard, showing the athleticism that is the hallmark of her game, was the picture of efficiency, hitting eight of nine shots from the floor on her way to 20 first-half points.
Meanwhile, the Lynx offense, so efficient in the first quarter, began to settle for jump shots. The undersized Lynx managed just two offensive rebounds in the first half. Dallas guard Arike Ogunbowale, the leading scorer in the WNBA, began to resemble her usual self, scoring six points in the final minutes of the second quarter. Dallas outscored the Lynx 27-15 in second quarter and held a 52-46 lead at halftime. The Wings turned the ball over just three times in the first half.
Mitchell, starting at point guard in place of Lindsay Allen, was the offensive spark for the Lynx in the second quarter, pacing them with 15 points at halftime while Shepard had eight points, all in the early stages of the game.
Dallas came out after halftime, looking to put a little distance between themselves and the Lynx and built a lead as big as 13 points. But Ariel Powers scored eight points and the Lynx trailed by just five, 69-64, going into the fourth quarter. Both teams scored 25 points in the final 10 minutes.
The Star Tribune did not send the writer of this article to the game. This was written using a broadcast, interviews and other material.