There are a lot of reasons why the Lynx, seemingly bereft midway through the second quarter of Wednesday’s game in Seattle, were able to mount their biggest rally in six years for an 87-85 victory in Atlanta.
Included in that list:
• Timely scoring by Kayla McBride, who scored seven of her nine points down the stretch as the Lynx finished the game on a 17-6 run.
• The return of Damiris Dantas as a three-point threat. She hit all four of her second-half three-pointers, scoring 23.
• The Lynx’s ability to stop turning over the ball over in the final 2½ quarters after the team fell behind by 18 with 5:38 left in the first half.
But none of that matters without Sylvia Fowles.
One game after perhaps her only down game of the season, with her team struggling at both ends of the floor, Fowles would not let the Lynx lose. She turned in a stat line for the ages with 26 points on 11-for-16 shooting, 19 rebounds, five blocks — including one huge one on Odyssey Sims in the closing moments — and two steals.
“This game epitomized Syl,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. Fowles had gotten just six shots in a loss at Dallas, partly the fault of her teammates, partly her own lack of determination. That wasn’t going to happen a second time. “Syl, today kept us together, kept her emotions in check, kept us pointed in the right direction. She embodied everything you want her to be.”
Said Fowles: “I just go out and try to do what I do. But one thing me and Cheryl established over the last couple of days was that I get enough touches.”
Fowles is only the second WNBA player with at least 26 points, 19 rebounds and five blocks in a game (Yolanda Griffith had 29, 19 and six in 1999). And here’s the thing. The best center in league history could have had an even bigger game had her teammates thrown more passes higher; about the only time Atlanta slowed Fowles was when the pass inside wasn’t high enough.
“She’s like Megatron,” Reeve said, referring to former Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, who used his height to make impossible catches.
This looked like a runaway early. Atlanta closed the first quarter on a 20-3 run to lead by 12. By the time Courtney Williams (24 points) scored with 5:38 left in the half, Atlanta had scored 18 points off 10 Lynx turnovers and led 42-24.
Then things changed, as Atlanta managed just three points off turnovers the rest of the game. Meanwhile, Fowles started pulling the Lynx back. She scored 10 points as the Lynx closed the half on a 16-4 run to pull within six.
Atlanta pushed that lead to eight entering the fourth quarter. But by that time the Lynx were clicking.
Dantas had six points and McBride seven in the final 10 minutes as the Lynx outscored Atlanta 19-9. Still, Minnesota was down 79-72 with 6½ minutes left.
Dantas’ three-pointer tied the game with 3:48 left. McBride’s layup with 1:50 left put Minnesota up two. Forty seconds later, McBride hit from the lane to put the Lynx up for good. At the other end, Fowles blocked Sims to end Atlanta’s final possession.
That Dantas showed flashes of 2020 is promising. Layshia Clarendon (nine points, nine assists) played a controlled game. “I’m just really impressed,” Reeve said. “Especially down 18.”
Thanks in large part to Megatron. Mama Syl might have a new nickname.
“I think I’m definitely Megatron,” she said. “Throw me anything high enough, I’m going to make you look good.”
The Star Tribune did not travel for this event. This article was written using the television broadcast and video interviews before and/or after the event.