Long after every Lynx practice, usually on the west end of the practice facility court, Renee Montgomery and Jia Perkins shoot, and shoot, and shoot.
They make jokes, they laugh — the two backup guards became good friends not long after Perkins joined the team last season.
“I call her my partner,” Montgomery said. “I guess you’d call it a partner in crime.”
So there is laughter. But there is also work.
And a goal. After Montgomery and Perkins struggled with their shots last season, coach Cheryl Reeve has asked for more — better shooting, better shot selection.
“I need more efficiency,” Reeve said. “I need a field-goal percentage number greater than it was last year, absolutely, from the backcourt.”
Last season the Lynx finished seventh in the league in bench scoring at 24.29 points per game. This is not the end-all of stats; Los Angeles, which beat the Lynx in the five-game WNBA Finals, was ninth. It has a lot to do with the Lynx having a productive, veteran starting lineup.
But Reeve would like not to have to overplay her starters. And that means Perkins and Montgomery — who was a big part of the team winning the league title in 2015 — are going to be needed.
For Montgomery, the most important thing is ball protection and getting the team into sets that produce good shots. From Perkins, Reeve primarily wants better shooting.
“At this point in her career she needs to be above 40 percent,” Reeve said.
Perkins shot 36.6 percent last season overall, 22.8 percent on three-pointers. Montgomery shot 39.7 percent, 32.1 percent on threes.
In two preseason games Perkins shot 3-for-8 overall and Montgomery 3-for-6. Both made two of four three-pointers.
“We’re happy with how they’ve played,” Reeve said. “We’re encouraged. They’ve put the time in.”
Perkins worked hard on her shot over the winter in Texas. She thinks her second full season with the Lynx will show improvement.
“This year I see what they want from me, where they want me to attack,” she said.
Montgomery is focused on getting the team quality possessions.
“I know Coach looks for that,” she said. “It’s making sure we get a good shot every time down. That falls on the point guards. That will always be my focus.”
Lynx waive three
Forwards Chantel Osahor and Breanna Richardson and guard Moriah Mack were waived Tuesday, bringing the team’s roster to 12, which means one more cut likely is coming, perhaps as early as Thursday.
Rookie guard Alexis Jones — the team’s first-round draft pick — and forwards Temi Fagbenle and Shao Ting are likely competing for the final two roster spots. All three have impressed during camp.
The 6-4 Fagbenle — who didn’t play last season while finishing her graduate degree at USC — is raw but improving, Reeve said.
“It’s fun to see her progress, and how fast she’s learning,” Reeve said.
Ting, 6-0 and a star on the Chinese national team and a teammate of Lynx center Sylvia Fowles in the Chinese professional league, has been productive. The 5-9 Jones, taken with the 12th pick in the draft from Baylor, has impressed coaches with her speed and quickness.
Osahor was acquired in a trade with Chicago a day after the draft. Richardson and Mack were signed as pre-camp free agents.
The Lynx, who beat the Washington Mystics in Monday’s preseason finale, returned to the Twin Cities on Tuesday. They will take Wednesday off and return to practice Thursday.
• Maya Moore, held out of Monday’s game because of a groin injury, is fine. She should practice Thursday and play in the opener against the Chicago Sky on Sunday. “Way, way precautionary,” Reeve said of Moore not playing. “We want everyone to be ready for the opener.”
• Forward Plenette Pierson, who missed both preseason games after entering concussion protocol after taking an elbow to the temple during practice last week, is expected to return to practice Thursday.