By Philip Rossman-Reich
Scouting Report - Lynx (4-2) at Storm (3-2) 9 PM
Seattle stormed into the Target Center last Friday and handed Minnesota its first loss of the season. The Storm took control in the first quarter with a 17-10 lead and the Lynx never got closer than six the rest of the way as the Storm led by more than 10 points for most of the second half in the 88-71 win. Seattle was simply dominant. The team shot 56.5 percent, hit eight 3-pointers and held Minnesota to 43.5 percent shooting. Lauren Jackson had a big game with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Swin Cash and Sue Bird added 15 and Tanisha Wright had 17 points. The Lynx got 18 points from Charde Houston, but Seimone Augustus struggled with 15 points on 6-of-15 shooting. Minnesota had 14 fast break points, but Seattle largely stymied the team's transition attack.
The Storm have been off since Sunday when they lost to the Sky 64-57. Seattle struggled at the beginning, allowing Chicago to take a 15-1 lead, before making a run to tighten the game. The Sky proved too much as the Storm could not generate enough offense. Jackson again had a big game with 22 points and eight rebounds. The eight-year pro from Australia is the WNBA's second leading scorer with 22.6 points per game, and she also grabs a team-best 6.8 rebounds per game. It is safe to say the offense runs through her. Point guard Sue Bird is scoring 11.2 points per game and a league-high 6.6 assists per game. Tanisha Wright averages 10.6 points per game and Swin Cash, returning from a back injury, is scoring 9.6 points per game so far this season.
Unlike the first two games on this road trip, Seattle plays much more effectively in the half court. The Storm score just 72.4 points per game, but give up a minuscule 67.8 per contest, tops in the league. Opponents are shooting just 39.0 percent against them. But the Storm's offensive inconsistencies have hurt them early in the season. In Seattle's other loss, a seven-point defeat to Indiana, the team shot five of 11 in the final quarter as Indiana maintained the lead late in the game. The Storm still held the Fever to below 40 percent shooting in the game. With Jackson in the middle, Seattle can play a physical style of defense and does a good job forcing difficult shots. The Storm do foul a lot, giving up 23.2 free throw attempts per game. But if they are making shots, this is a difficult team to come back against.
That makes the task for the Lynx that much more difficult. The team announced today that Augustus suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the loss to Phoenix on Wednesday. Augustus was taken off the court in the middle of the second quarter and did not return. Minnesota rallied to keep the game tight in the second quarter and took the lead early in the third. But the Mercury answered and took a double-digit lead they never squandered to go on to a 24-point win. The Lynx got big games from Houston and Nicky Anosike with Augustus out Wednesday night as they both scored 21 points to lead the team. Those two will need to step up against Seattle's difficult defense to make up for the loss of Augustus.
Keys To A Win For Minnesota:
--Score in transition
--Make Jackson a passer
--Keep the ball moving
--Stay composed, don't panic when down
Matchup To Watch:
Lauren Jackson vs. Nicky Anosike
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Lynx on Twitter.