Everyone in the place Friday night in Minneapolis had fun — the home team players, its coaching staff, and the nearly 8,000 in attendance.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Minnesota Coach Cheryl Reeve after her team’s 92-67 victory over the Seattle Storm.
“It was one of those nights where everybody felt good,” adds Lynx guard Seimone Augustus, who tied with Candice Wiggins for team scoring honors with 16 points.
“We had a really fun time,” added Maya Moore, who had 12 points and a game-high six assists. “We were acting up on the bench, cheering for everybody, whether it was the starting five or the second team coming in.”
Taj McWilliams-Franklin notched her third straight double-figure scoring effort with 10 points; Lindsay Whalen and Charde Houston each added nine points; and eight points each from Rebekkah Brunson and Jessica Adair; and Amber Harris had four points. Only guard Alexis Hornbuckle didn’t score but did block a shot, grabbed a rebound and collected an assist.
Smiles all around, except for the visiting Seattle club who took a three-point lead in the first quarter, then saw their hosts stormed past them with a 19-2, almost six-minute run to take a 14-point lead. A 32-point lead in the fourth quarter was the second time the Lynx have done this against Seattle this season.
Obviously, Friday night wasn’t fun for the Storm, who fell to Minnesota for the third time this season.
“They didn’t drop off when they subbed in and just kept on going,” surmised Seattle Coach Brian Agler on the Lynx. “I was just really disappointed in our defense, but I think Minnesota’s a heck of a team.”
The win improved Minnesota’s spot atop the Western Conference with a 12-4 record, winners of seven of their last eight games. They also clinched their first series win against Seattle (9-8) this summer as well.
It also felt good knocking off last year’s champs, continues Augustus. “We are ready to roll,” she points out. “We also understand that they are missing a big piece to that team in Lauren Jackson (who has been out since late June after surgery on her left hip). They are still a tough team.”
This is exactly what Reeve wants Lynx fans, and anyone else within the sound of her voice, to know crystal clear: “There is a lot of good basketball (left) — we haven’t done anything yet,” says the coach matter-of-factly.
“Every team gets bumps in the road,” continues Reeve. “I’ll find out who we really are when we hit those bumps, and how we handle those things.”
But for Friday night, which began a week-long stretch in which the Lynx play four times against conference opponents, it was a fun way to start.
Minnesota leaves for San Antonio Saturday for a Sunday afternoon matchup with the Silver Stars. Reeve says the two teams “mirror” each other.
“It’s all about San Antonio,” she says about her club’s next game.
Nonetheless, the coach couldn’t help but smile when talking about her 2011 Lynx. “The thing that I enjoy watching them (is the players) interact with each other,” Reeve concludes.
Finally – I chatted with Katie Smith, now with Seattle, on being named to the WNBA’s Top 15 all-time players last weekend. “It was special, a huge, huge honor,” says Smith, whom I covered during her 6 1/2 seasons in Minnesota.
She agreed with me that former Detroit Shock teammate Deanna Nolan was overlooked. “I thought “Tweety” could have been on that team,” notes Smith. “She was a go-to (player) for a lot of years and won three (WNBA) championships. But who are you going to take off?”