Here is how Wednesday’s game between the Lynx and Seattle started at Target Center:
The Lynx won the tip but turned the ball over. At the other end a Minnesota defender went under a screen, leaving Natasha Howard wide-open for a three-pointer.
Freeze that image.
Because for the first three quarters, this is how the game went. Which is why Seattle’s final 11-point margin in its 90-79 victory is a little misleading.
And why coach Cheryl Reeve was trying so hard to bite her tongue after it ended.
“I’ll listen to my mom,’’ she said. “I don’t have a lot of nice things to say about our defense.’’
To put it mildly.
For the first 35½ minutes of this game, the Storm (11-8) got pretty much any shot it wanted, then made them in its third straight win. It began early when — counter to the game plan Reeve and her staff had stressed in the morning shoot-around — Lynx defenders consistently went under screens, leaving shooters such as Sami Whitcomb (15 points on 5-for-11 shooting on three-pointers) wide open.
Seattle was up 16 after Whitcomb hit a three-pointer with 8:05 left in the game.
Scoring 12 points off seven Seattle turnovers, the Lynx stormed back. The frenetic 19-4 Lynx run pulled Minnesota within one point on Danielle Robinson’s baseline jumper with 3 minutes, 33 seconds left.
Howard then missed at the other end. Robinson had an open 16-footer, but missed.
And suddenly it was over.
The Storm settled down and scored the game’s final 10 points to secure the victory.
The run was a 4½-minute exception to the way Seattle ruled. The rest of the game Seattle outscored the Lynx 86-60.
Howard took advantage of her matchup with rookie Napheesa Collier to score a career-high 33 points on 12-for-21 shooting. Alysha Clark and Jordin Canada each scored 12.
The Lynx (10-8) got 20 points from Lexie Brown off the bench, signaling, perhaps, the end of her mini-shooting slump. Ten of those came in that 19-4 run. Sylvia Fowles had 16, Robinson 14.
Other than that? Seattle slew.
“They just came out and punched us, the whole first half,’’ Robinson said. “We’re used to fighting from the start. That’s definitely a little disappointing.’’
The Storm’s 26 points in the first quarter and 50 points at the half were season-highs by a Lynx foe, as were its 12 made three-pointers.
“It’s very frustrating to have a game plan, you go and work on things, and you don’t get it done,’’ Fowles said. “It’s quite frustrating.’’
In the end, Seattle’s 53.2% shooting was hard to overcome. Afterward Reeve tried — sometimes unsuccessfully — to hold her tongue, at one point suggesting her 4½-year-old son Oliver was yelling from his seat for the Lynx not to go under picks.
“If you were at our shoot-around and listened to what the game plan was, and then watched us play?’’ she said.
“Just wasn’t very good. … I don’t like getting run out of the gym on your home court.’’