Game 3: Final Seconds Fall In Lynx Favor
Web Editorial Associate
Everyone in Target Center held their breath for 3.3 seconds…and then let out a big, collective sigh of relief.
That was the time on the clock when Seattle called a timeout, giving them only a few seconds to set up an attempt to take the lead. With Minnesota leading 72-71, Seattle inbounded the ball to All-Star forward Lauren Jackson, who shot a turnaround jumper from the baseline that clanked off the rim. Lynx forward Maya Moore grabbed the rebound, and Minnesota advanced to the Western Conference Finals.
They’ll face Los Angeles on Thursday night at Target Center. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
It was a movie-like finish for a game that was stressful from beginning to end.
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"We hit, they hit back, that's the heavyweight fight of the night," center Taj McWilliams-Franklin said. "It's awesome as a player to be a part of that."
The Lynx had a four-point cushion after a McFranklin-Williams layup until Seattle guard Sue Bird drained a 3-pointer to bring their deficit to a single point. Minnesota called a timeout with 35 seconds left, and guard Lindsay Whalen—who returned to game action after suffering a left wrist injury—missed a jumper that was rebounded by Seattle's Jackson.
Seattle looked up-court, but Storm coach Brian Agler called a timeout once he saw Minnesota had recovered on defense.
"We got a stop, got the rebound," Agler said. "For some reason, because of the congestion, it took us time to get the ball down the floor. The ball got into Sue's hands, and I saw their defense was back, so we decided to call a timeout. So we drew up a play."
Having battled Seattle through a double-overtime game on Sunday night, Minnesota knew who the Storm would look to for the closing bucket.
"We knew they were going to go to Lauren [Jackson]," forward Rebekkah Brunson said. "She's a great player, she's clutch, I think we all knew what they were going to go for. We just guarded it great, and came out with the victory."
With 3.3 seconds remaining, Brunson played enough defense to alter Jackson's shot and take the victory. Brunson, who scored 10 points and collected four rebounds in the game's final quarter, was a huge contributor to pushing Minnesota to a Game 3 win. She finished with 16 points and nine rebounds on the night.
"We had two options off of it," said Agler of the final play. "One was to go to Lauren, and for her, she had a pretty good look."
When asked what she felt during the final sequence, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve echoed what the rest of the arena was feeling.
"(It was) scary," Reeve said. "It was really scary that Jackson had the touch. I thought we forced her into a tough shot, but we had no idea on the backside what was going to happen—if there was going to be a tip-in or that sort of thing. Not the situation we want to be in, but like I told our players, we fought."
They fought, and now they will match up against Los Angeles in another fight against elimination. But for tonight, the Lynx can breathe easy.
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