Sept. 8, 2004
Sting 72, Lynx 68
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Minnesota slipped to 0-2 on its final homestand of the regular season with Wednesday's four-point loss to Charlotte. The Lynx will play their home finale vs. Seattle on Friday, before embarking on a coast-to-coast, four-game road trip that starts Saturday in Charlotte.
The Sting remain undefeated in four visits to Target Center, and have beaten Minnesota five straight times to pull ahead 6-2 in the all-time series.
With the loss, Minnesota drops into a third-place tie with Phoenix (16-13) in the Western Conference playoff race, two games in back of Seattle and one ahead of fifth-place Sacramento. The Lynx own the tiebreaker with Phoenix (going 3-1), and have gone 2-1 against the Monarchs with one meeting left (Sept. 19 at ARCO Arena). Minnesota's "magic number" for clinching a playoff berth remains at five.
Charlotte ended a three-game road losing streak, winning for just the fourth time in its last 12 contests overall. The Sting return to the Charlotte Coliseum to kick off a three-game homestand Thursday vs. Sacramento. With the victory, Charlotte improves to 14-15 and into a third-place tie with Connecticut in the Eastern Conference, one game behind front-running New York (14-13).
The Sting shot a season-high 54.3% from the floor — including 61.9% in the second half — bettering their previous mark of 53.7% set June 11 at Phoenix. It's also the highest percentage by a Lynx foe in 2004 (Los Angeles 50.9%, June 27) and the fifth-best figure ever shot against Minnesota. In the clubs' previous meeting (June 20, 2003 in Charlotte), the Sting hit 56.8% — the top percentage all-time vs. Minnesota.
Charlotte finished with 72 points, marking just its fifth 70+ effort this season (first since a 70-41 victory over Washington on July 24). The Sting, the WNBA's lowest-scoring team at 61.1 ppg, had dropped to 56.8 ppg in their previous four outings. Meanwhile, Minnesota has seen its defensive average rise to 68.3 ppg in three September starts, after limiting its previous six opponents to just 59.7 ppg.
On the flipside, the Lynx have boosted their scoring to 67.0 ppg this month (including Wednesday's 68-point performance), after dipping to 60.3 ppg in their final four contests heading into the Olympic break. It's the first game Minnesota has lost when scoring 65+ points since an 83-67 setback to Los Angeles on June 27; they're now 11-3 in that category. The Lynx' 38.7% shooting effort represents the sixth time in nine games they've finished shy of 40%; on the year, they've gone 4-11 when hitting less than 40%.
Charlotte compiled a 27-26 rebounding edge, the first time in six games they'd held an advantage. The Lynx have now come up short in five consecutive games (facing an average deficit of -3.8 rpg), after being outboarded just once in their previous eight outings. Minnesota enjoyed a 40-34 cushion in paint scoring; the 40 points are a single-game best for 2004.
Nicole Ohlde led Minnesota with 19 points and eight rebounds, the third straight game she's been the Lynx' top scorer. Ohlde is scoring at a 16.0 ppg clip (shooting 45.7%) and grabbing 6.7 rpg this month. Svetlana Abrosimova, playing in the 100th game of her WNBA career, added a season-high 15 points, three assists and four steals. In starting the past six games, she's tallying 10.7 ppg, 3.2 apg and 2.50 spg.
Dawn Staley handed out a season-high 10 assists for the Sting, the 10th double-figure assist night of her WNBA career. Staley, who surpassed the 1000-career-assist plateau on Sept. 1 vs. Connecticut, has led Charlotte in that category 23 times in 29 games. Allison Feaster and Charlotte Smith-Taylor each netted 17 points; Smith-Taylor is averaging 13.8 ppg (on 62.9% shooting) in four September starts.