A five-point lead had disappeared amid a flurry of turnovers in Phoenix on Wednesday night. The Mercury had just taken a one-point lead on a Skylar Diggins-Smith floater.
That's when Kayla McBride took over.
Look at the boxscore of Minnesota's 82-76 victory over Phoenix and you see a lot of things: A great battle between Lynx center Sylvia Fowles and counterpart Brittney Griner. Another double-double from Fowles and Napheesa Collier, another clutch performance from Layshia Clarendon.
And then: McBride.
McBride — who hadn't even practiced with the team when she suited up for a season-opening loss to Phoenix — took Wednesday's game back.
She scored 10 points in a 12-0 third-period run that turned that one-point deficit into an 11-point lead. Up seven entering the fourth, Clarendon had six and McBride five as the Lynx held off Phoenix (7-8), which saw a two-game winning streak end. McBride changed the game.
"It came at a good time," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. "Some of it was KMac finding an opening and we were getting it to her. Some of it was in transition. We ran a couple plays for her. She wanted it, and she knocked 'em down."
And this was a complete game. After a two-game stretch in which she made just seven of 22 shots and two of nine threes, McBride came out and went 9-for-13, made five of seven threes. And, at the other end, matched up with Diana Taurasi, she held the future Hall of Famer to 10 points on 2-for-14 shooting as the Lynx (8-7), over .500 for the first time this season, won their third straight.
"I hadn't been shooting the ball well the last two games, and I wanted to come out and be aggressive," McBride said. "The team needed me to be. We can't just count on Syl and Phee to score."
Here is that run:
McBride took a pass from Damiris Dantas and hit a three at midquarter. After Taurasi missed, McBride hit another three, this time from Crystal Dangerfield. After a Phoenix timeout — and a McBride steal — she took a pass from Fowles and hit a 19-footer. Collier scored minutes later and then, with 2:28 left in the quarter, McBride sprinted the floor and scored again.
Saturday's rematch in Phoenix promises to be even more intense.
"It's so fun to watch," Collier said of McBride's part in that 12-0 run. "And it was such a momentum-changer for us.''