August 22, 2021
How the Minnesota Lynx course corrected after back-to-back losses
The Lynx ended their eight-game win streak with two losses to Connecticut, but they turned things around against the Sky.
The Lynx kicked off their three-game road trip with back-to-back losses against the Connecticut Sun, ending their eight-game win streak. However, the Lynx finished their road trip with a 101-95 win against the Chicago Sky, who were without Candace Parker. A combination of getting to the free throw line and the return of Aerial Powers helped the team secure that win.
The return of Aerial Powers
Guard Aerial Powers hasn’t been on the court since the team’s June 12 win against the Los Angeles Sparks after Powers tore her ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in her right thumb, an injury that required surgery.
It wasn’t clear when Power would be able to get back on the court, but it was anticipated her return would be after the Olympic break.
“After the second Connecticut game, [athletic trainer] Chuck [Barta] came to me and said that Aerial wanted to play the next game,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said.
While it was a bit ahead of schedule, Powers told reporters that she was feeling good when she was in the gym and shooting, no longer feeling pain in her injured hand.
“It’s sore, but we can work through soreness. Pain is another story,” Powers said. “So I was like ‘I’m playing. I’m ready to go.’”
The win against Chicago was Powers’ first game back and her impact was immediate, playing just over 14 minutes with 10 points, 2 rebounds and shooting 100% from the line.
“AP’s energy is infectious,” said guard Layshia Clarendon. “She’s like that fighter and I think that little piece where you need that person who’s just like ‘[expletive] that. We’re not gonna lose.’ She’s gonna scrap, she’s gonna find extra possessions. She’s that other player that can get into the paint for us.”
Free throw attempts
In Minnesota’s first game against Connecticut, there was a significant discrepancy of players going to the stripe. All five of Connecticut’s starting line up made it to the free throw line, collectively shooting 14 of 16.
Minnesota, on the other hand, was a different story.
“One of the strangest stats of the night was we were 5 of 7 from the line and Kayla McBride shot all seven free throws. No other player on the [Lynx] was fouled shooting the ball,” Reeve said to reporters postgame.
Although the second game against the Sun had more Lynx players getting opportunities at the line, collectively shooting 100% on 10 attempts, Connecticut still had the upper hand with more attempts, shooting 87.5% on 23 of 25.
The Lynx had significantly more chances at the line in their win against Chicago and went 28 of 33, a season high in attempts at the line.
“We know Chicago fouls a lot too, I think they’re one of the worst teams in the league to give out fouls,” Clarendon said. Chicago is ranked ninth in foul rate, averaging 20.2 fouls a game.
Three Lynx players shot 100% from the line including Powers, who went 6 for 6, and Crystal Dangerfield, who went 4 for 4, both coming off the bench. In the team’s losses to Connecticut, no bench players got to the free throw line.
“I can’t speak to why one crew can see what’s happening and why the ones in Connecticut didn’t, I can’t help on that, but I thought we were aggressive and put ourselves in position to be fouled,” Reeve said.
The Lynx play six of their next seven games at home, beginning Tuesday against the Seattle Storm. The home-court advantage that should help the Lynx add more games in the win column.
“It’s hard to play against teams away,” Powers said. “And our fans are so great that they’re gonna make it, and we’re gonna make it, even harder [for other teams to win]. And that’s gonna help us going into that playoff run. We need those games. Big.”