Game Recap: Fever 62, Lynx 69
Indiana's Nice Effort Falls Short vs. Lynx
by Tom Rietmann
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana's production in Thursday's matinee game wasn't quite enough to derail the team currently playing the best basketball in the WNBA.
But as the Fever continues its battle back from an injury-wracked start to 2013, the club's overall effort in a 69-62 loss to the visiting Minnesota Lynx seemed like a promising sign.
“You have to give our players a pat on the back,” Indiana Coach Lin Dunn said, lauding her team's aggressiveness and push as it fell to 4-8. “We'll build off this.”
The return of Erin Phillips from a knee injury provided the Fever with solid reserve play at both guard spots. Indiana's lineup at times had the same smoothness and cohesiveness that carried it to the WNBA championship a year ago, when the Fever defeated Minnesota in the Finals.
“At one point, we went on a nice run,” Phillips said, referring to a 12-0 burst that wiped out a 10-point lead for the visitors in the second quarter. “Things just started flowing and started becoming familiar again.
“Injuries have been so disruptive to this group. We just have to keep the ship sailing until we get a couple more of the injured back.”
Heading into the fourth quarter Thursday, Minnesota (10-3) led by just three. The Fever, stoked by a Kids Day crowd of 10,230, appeared ready to assume command after Phillips' 3-pointer and Tamika Catchings' three free throws made it just a 57-55 Lynx lead with 5:24 remaining.
From there, however, Indiana lost its way. The Fever wound up hitting only 12.5 percent of its field goal attempts in the fourth (2-of-16). And as Minnesota's Lindsay Whalen was scoring 12 of her game-high 23 in the quarter, Indiana's players showed a reluctance to take the open shots they worked for.
“The good news is, we got the looks,” Dunn said. “We were open.”
Said Phillips: “We're definitely not a team that turns down shots because we're not confident or anything like that. We need to watch film, see what shots we did turn down and knock down a couple more.”
Indiana shot 34.4 percent for the game (21-of-61). Minnesota was at 43.3 percent (29-of-67). The Lynx didn't connect on a 3-pointer but helped themselves by outscoring Indiana in the paint, 34-24.
Shavonte Zellous led the Fever with 14 points, extending her streak of double-digit games to 12 this season. Zellous, Atlanta's Angel McCoughtry and Chicago's Elena Delle Donne are the only players in the WNBA who have scored double figures in every game.
Indiana's Erlana Larkins had a season-high 11 points. Catchings had nine points, 10 rebounds and five steals. In four games since she returned from a back injury, Catchings has made 19 steals.
“When you look at the overall flow from a defensive standpoint, it felt like we played a really good game,” said Catchings, encouraged by how her short-handed club pushed the Lynx well into the fourth quarter.
“You have to look at the positive things that come out of this. We have another game in two days (Saturday at New York). Before, we were having a whole week to have to dwell on a loss. We'll learn from the good things in this and move forward.”