San Antonio – The most important statistic in the Lynx’s 81-57 victory over San Antonio on Tuesday afternoon?
Totally a matter of perspective.
Defensive pressure? The Lynx (17-4) forced 18 turnovers that resulted in 30 points while committing eight turnovers themselves that led to five Stars points.
Rebounding? Minnesota had a 43-26 advantage on the boards, leading to a 26-1 dominance in second-chance points.
Offense? Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen combined for 46 points, making 19 of 32 field-goal attempts.
Coach Dan Hughes of San Antonio (5-16) said he wasn’t sure which stat was more important — Minnesota’s 30 points off turnovers, or its 26-1 edge in second-chance points. “Those two things against a good team are just too much separation,” he said.
Throw in the shooting of Whalen and Moore and it turned into a blowout.
“Our mind-set is just to be disruptive, try to slow people’s flow and slow their roll by being physical, being aggressive, being aware and connected,” Moore said, “and just trying to outwork the team that we’re playing.”
The Lynx’s ability to do that was obvious to all.
“That’s just a really good team,” said Stars rookie guard Moriah Jefferson, who led her team with 14 points. “They don’t have many weak spots and, if you have a couple plays where you don’t score, then it’s really hard to stop them. So you can’t have many empty possessions in a row because next thing you know you’ll look up and you’re going to be down by about 20.”
The Lynx on Saturday at Target Center wore black warmup shirts that carried messages of support for Black Lives Matter as well as the Dallas police. The team did not wear those shirts for this game.
Whalen scored 22 points on 9-for-12 shooting from the field, giving her consecutive 20-plus point games for the first time since the 2014 season. She also had 22 on Saturday against Dallas.
Whalen moved into 13th place on the WNBA career scoring list with 5,052 points. She is only two points behind Swin Cash of the New York Liberty in 12th. Whalen added five assists and five rebounds, giving her a 20th career game in which she has had at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists.
San Antonio’s Hughes noted Whalen’s “great strength for a point guard. … When she is able to play with movement, she’s able to get into spots with such presence and such physicality. And I thought her decisionmaking was just really good.”
Whalen for her part praised her team’s ball movement on offense.
“That’s how we play,” Whalen said. “That’s how we’ve always played. It’s so much better for us when we’re moving the ball and we’re sharing it. Good things just seem to happen, but in order for that to happen, we have to play really hard defense.”
Hughes, who is retiring at the end of this season, was certain of this: He’ll enjoy watching Whalen and Moore a lot more once he’s not coaching against them.
“They have a pretty good connection with each other,” he said, “and, to their credit, they’re both just rock-solid competitors.’’