With two minutes left in Friday night's game, as the announced Target Center crowd of 12,134 stood and cheered, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve took Sylvia Fowles out.
Fowles hugged Reeve. Then she hugged assistant coach Rebekkah Brunson, with whom she won two WNBA titles. In the final regular-season home game in Fowles' wonderful 15-year career, it was an emotional moment.
Unfortunately a difficult one, too.
With so much on the line, with a 12th straight WNBA playoff appearance within reach, the Lynx stumbled out of the gate and never recovered in a 96-69 loss to the Seattle Storm.
The Lynx (14-21) were down 20 before they had scored 10. When the buzzer sounded to end the first quarter, Seattle led 30-10 and two Storm players — Tina Charles and Jewell Loyd — had scored more points than the entire Lynx team.
Minnesota never recovered.
"We looked slow," Reeve said. "Slow to rotations. We didn't look confident. I'm disappointed with our overall lack of collective will. But we've talked about that before with this team."
The postgame celebration was touching. The crowd cheered as one person after another talked. Former teammate Lindsay Whalen said she couldn't wait for Fowles' jersey to be hanging in the rafters with hers. Brunson discussed the power of a Sylvia Fowles hug.
Fowles needed to bring a towel with her to the podium to handle the tears.
Know this: Fowles came to play. She scored 13 points with 12 rebounds. But the Lynx allowed the Storm to score both inside (42 points in the paint) and from behind the arc (12-for-27 on three-pointers). Seattle scored 21 points off Lynx turnovers.
Down 20 after the first quarter, the Lynx managed to cut the lead to 12 in the second quarter. But that was before Breanna Stewart scored six points in a 7-2 Storm run to end the half.
"It just happens like that," said Fowles, who added many of her teammates apologized to her after the game was over. "It's been part of our season this year. Up and down, up and down. But I let them know I'm proud of them."
The loss dropped the Lynx (14-21) to ninth, one spot out of the playoffs, behind both New York and Phoenix (both 15-20) and tied with Atlanta, with the tiebreaker of the Dream. Phoenix plays host to Chicago on Sunday while Atlanta plays at New York.
To make the playoffs, the Lynx have to win at Connecticut on Sunday and hope either New York or Phoenix loses. They would finish with the seventh seed with a win if both the Liberty and Mercury lose. They would get in as the eighth seed with a win if either Phoenix or New York loses.
They will have to quickly shrug off what happened Friday.
"We'll get on the plane, get there and we go hooping with the playoffs on the line," Reeve said. "We'll see what we can do."
Charles finished with 23 points and nine rebounds for the Storm (22-13). Loyd had 21 points and Stewart had 16. Seattle shot 52.8% overall and made 12 of 27 three-pointers.
Aerial Powers (18) and Bridget Carleton (11) scored in double figures off the bench for Minnesota.
But the Lynx shot 36.5% and made just four of 13 three-pointers. It was the most one-sided loss of the season for Minnesota, easily eclipsing the Lynx's 23-point loss in Seattle on opening night.
"I won't say it was frustrating," Fowles said of the loss. "It tends to be hard when you can't get things done. I'm by no means frustrated. I just wish we could have done better, that's all."