Sept. 14, 2004
Comets 70, Lynx 59
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Houston staved off postseason elimination with tonight's 11-point victory, preventing the Lynx from sweeping the clubs' four-game season series. Minnesota is now 4-17 all-time vs. Houston, but has split the last eight meetings. The Comets' sole hope of making their eighth consecutive WNBA Playoffs appearance rests on finishing in a three-way tie with Phoenix and Sacramento for fourth place in the West, a scenario in which Houston would win the tiebreaker due to head-to-head record.
Meanwhile, Minnesota's "magic number" for clinching its second straight postseason berth holds at two (over both Phoenix and Sacramento); the Mercury travel to Seattle on Wednesday, while the Monarchs visit Houston on Thursday. The Lynx (17-15) remain a half-game in front of Phoenix for third place in the West, but tonight's loss eliminates any chance of Minnesota overtaking second-place Seattle and claiming first-round homecourt advantage. Next up for the Lynx is a Friday visit to Los Angeles.
The Lynx have lost four of five since the Sept. 1 victory at Houston; they're 0-2 on the current four-game trip, after winning five of their previous six road outings.
Minnesota jumped out to a 16-7 lead after scoring 12 unanswered points, and still led by nine with 7:00 left in the first half before Houston closed with a 19-4 rush to pull ahead 32-26 at intermission. The nine-point spread equals the largest to get away from the Lynx this season; they squandered an 18-9 cushion in losing to L.A. on June 27 at Target Center. Minnesota has made up double-figure deficits to win five times in 2004, most recently spotting New York a 10-point, second-half lead before winning on July 15.
The Lynx finished 4-for-9 (44.4%) from the line, establishing season lows for FTs made and percentage. They've now hit 65% or less of their free throws in five consecutive games, shooting a combined 58.5% (48-for-82) in that stretch. Minnesota's three-point accuracy has plummeted to 26.3% (20-for-76) over the last five as well, including tonight's 3-for-14 showing. The Lynx have won their last eight games when converting 30%+ of their trey attempts, but have lost five straight when hitting less than 30%.
The Comets outrebounded Minnesota 31-29, racking up a 17-5 advantage in second-chance points. Last Saturday, the Lynx held a 30-22 board edge at Charlotte and outscored the Sting 20-0 in second-chance points. Overall, Minnesota has now been outrebounded in seven of its last eight contests; the Lynx fall to 4-11 when coming up short on the glass. Minnesota also committed 18 TOs this evening, leading to 23 Houston points; they're averaging 23.0 miscues over their last three games (15.3 in the previous three).
The Lynx were led by Nicole Ohlde's 15 points and eight rebounds. Ohlde has been Minnesota's top scorer four times this month, and is averaging 14.2 ppg (on 48.5% shooting) in six September starts. Svetlana Abrosimova chipped in 14 points and a season-high six assists, along with two steals; she's picked up 17 steals over her last six games, and is tallying 10.1 ppg in starting the past nine. Vanessa Hayden added 11 points off the bench, on the heels of her season-high 18-point night last Saturday at Charlotte.
Houston forward Tina Thompson led all scorers with 27 points, the fifth time this year she's tallied 25+. Thompson, the WNBA's second-leading scorer (a career-high 19.9 ppg), has now reached double figures in 30 consecutive games dating to a nine-point outing Aug. 8, 2003 at Detroit. Octavia Blue came off the bench to post season highs with 10 points and seven rebounds in 34 minutes; before tonight's contest, Blue had appeared in just nine games this year, totaling four points and three rebounds in 35 minutes.