Lynx fizzle at finish, fall to Seattle
MINNEAPOLIS — After winning two straight on the road, and with three of their final four games at home, the Minnesota Lynx hope to gain more momentum heading into the final week of the regular season.
That didn't happen Sunday.
Sylvia Fowles finished with 28 points and 13 rebounds for her 20th double-double of the season and added a season-high four blocks, but Minnesota fizzled during a fourth-quarter stretch and fell 81-72 to Seattle.
The other four Lynx starters were a combined 12 for 43 from the field for 28 points. The quartet added 14 rebounds.
"Losing at home always has an extra sting," Maya Moore said.
The Lynx had beaten Seattle 16 straight times in Minnesota.
Moore, who had 30-plus point outings in her past two games, scored 12 points and added seven rebounds—but none of either in the second half.
Seimone Augustus scored 13 points and added a season-high six assists, Cecilia Zandalasini missed all eight of her shots, and Tanisha Wright, starting in place of Lindsay Whalen, finished with three points and four assists in nearly 35 minutes.
Whalen returned after sitting out the previous two games for some extra rest, scoring four points.
However, she came off the bench for the first time since her inaugural WNBA game on May 22, 2004, when she played for Connecticut. Whalen said she always started in high school and college.
Coach Cheryl Reeve said Whalen "physically is not able to go for long stretches" whereas Wright can, especially when it comes to offensive pace and ball pressure on defense.
"The team has been on a really good roll and had a lot of momentum, so I support coach's decision," Whalen said.
Reeve said Whalen told her she wants to do what's best for the team.
Wright had season highs with 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists in Thursday's win over Las Vegas.
Minnesota, 3-13 when scoring less than 80 points, fell to seventh place in the league standings, but is just one game out of fourth. Finishing in the top four results in a bye in the first round of one-and-done games.
Seattle (24-8), which already has clinched a spot in the playoff semifinals, got 21 points from former Lynx reserve Natasha Howard. Breanna Stewart had the same number of points and rebounds — 17.
Down by 12 midway through the third quarter, the Lynx got within four on Wright's 3-pointer with just less than seven minutes to play to briefly energize the full lower bowl in Target Center.
But the Storm quickly quieted the sellout crowd of 9,123 with back-to-back 3 pointers by Stewart and another by Sue Bird for a 71-58 lead.
It was part of a 16-2 run that allowed the Storm to put the game away.
"Just a frustration for us that we didn't have the grit to dig in, guard the best player," Reeve said. "It's unfortunate that we didn't string together enough long enough periods of time where we were physically tough on the offensive end as well as the defensive end."
At 17-14, the Lynx have lost more games this regular season than in the previous two combined.
Minnesota was missing two key players: Forward Rebekkah Brunson missed her third straight game with a concussion and backup point guard Danielle Robinson sat with a high left ankle sprain suffered Thursday in Las Vegas.
Reeve did not provide an update on Brunson, but she is not optimistic about Robinson returning for the playoffs, which, depending on Minnesota's finish, could begin as soon as Aug. 21.