Monday, June 27, 2011

Fever sweat through nail-biter against Lynx


Minnesota Lynx fans and players may consider this weekend a "teaching moment."

Following a 65-55 loss to Seattle on Friday, the Lynx dropped a close game to the Indiana Fever 78-75 at Target Center Sunday as Indiana's perimeter shooting overpowered Minnesota's inside game.

Although the Lynx (5-3) out-rebounded the Fever (6-3) 39-26 and outscored the Fever in the paint 42-22, the Fever countered with 46 percent field goal shooting and 8-of-18 from three-point range. The Lynx were 41 percent from the floor and 3-of-10 from beyond the arc.

"On the offensive end, it's inside-out. (Tamika Catchings) went to the power forward tonight and created a lot of mismatches," said Indiana guard Katie Douglas.

After Minnesota reeled in a 29-18 Indiana lead with a 17-2 run in the second quarter, neither team led by more than seven for the remainder of the game.

Douglas scored a game-high 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting, but a free throw miss following a Maya Moore foul with 18 seconds to go in the fourth left her speechless; the 80 percent career free throw shooter is currently sitting at 67 percent.

Douglas did make the second to give Indiana a 76-73 lead, but they would hold their breath one more time as Douglas fouled Lynx guard Seimone Augustus behind the three-point line on the left corner.

"I knew we had one foul to give, and I was trying to give up the foul," she said.

"Seimone, being the smart player, throws the ball up and they send her to the free throw line," Catchings said.

Augustus missed her first free throw and made her last two, forcing the Lynx to continue playing foul-and-chase.

"After she missed the first one, I was like 'Whew, we got this,' but I was a little nervous," Catchings said.

After Fever reserve Jeanette Pohlen sank two free throws with 5.6 seconds left to push their lead to three, the Lynx had one more chance, but Lindsay Whalen's three-point attempt from the top of the key was wide left as the buzzer sounded.

Catchings added 17 points, playing a pivotal role in the fourth to secure the victory.

Moore tied her career high in scoring with 21 points for Minnesota, but only four came in the second half as foul trouble limited her production. Whalen and Augustus scored 12 and 10 respectively, but the two combined to make just nine of their 28 shot attempts.

"We have to be the mentally tougher team for longer stretches. It's going to take efforts like Jessica Adair did," Moore said.

While back-to-back losses could cause Lynx fans to panic after seeing them squander hot starts in 2008 and 2009, second-year center Adair highlighted the deeper bench opposing teams have raved about when facing the Lynx. Adair proved highly effective in the 8:17 of floor time she played with seven points and six rebounds, five of them offensive.

In fact, Adair scooped one more offensive rebound than rebounding specialist Rebekkah Brunson, despite playing less than a quarter of Brunson's total minutes.

"Rebekkah's arguably the best post player in the league and Taj (McWilliams-Franklin) has been around forever. If I weren't here picking up little things from them, I'd be a fool," Adair said.

Catchings believes Minnesota's bench will make them one of the best teams in the league as the season continues.

"They're a threat at every single position," she said.

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