The Lynx entered the 2004 campaign with only five returning players from their 2003 playoff team. Minnesota added former Cleveland Rockers guard Helen Darling in January's dispersal draft, then made a trade with Seattle the day before the WNBA Draft. The Lynx received forward Amanda Lassiter and the sixth overall draft pick in exchange for forward Sheri Sam and center Janell Burse.
With the extra draft pick, the Lynx had two top-10 selections and chose Kansas State forward/center Nicole Ohlde (sixth) and Florida center Vanessa Hayden (seventh). In addition, Minnesota picked forward Tasha Butts (20th), guard Amber Jacobs (33rd) and guard Kate Bulger (38th). During camp, the Lynx added free agent Stacey Lovelace-Tolbert.
Minnesota opened the preseason in Albuquerque with a "home" game vs. Sacramento. Rookies Ohlde and Jacobs each scored 12 points to lead the Lynx to a 78-60 victory. The Lynx then hosted the defending WNBA champion Detroit Shock at Target Center on May 11. Ohlde and Tamika Williams had 12 points apiece, while Stacey Lovelace-Tolbert added nine points and five rebounds, in a 74-65 win. Minnesota completed its first-ever undefeated preseason four days later with another victory over the Shock, 58-56, in Pittsburgh. Katie Smith led the Lynx with 13, while Ohlde again scored 12 points, including the tie-breaking jumper with 14 seconds remaining.
The Lynx kicked off the regular season with a three-game road trip against Western Conference rivals Seattle, Sacramento and San Antonio. In the season opener on May 20, Minnesota lost an 88-85 decision at Seattle, dropping the Lynx' all-time record in season openers to 4-2. The 173 total points were the highest combined point total in Lynx history. Smith and Teresa Edwards both scored 17 points to lead five Lynx players in double figures, tying a team record. Edwards hit 4-of-7 three-pointers, and her point total surpassed her previous WNBA high of 15. Ohlde had 16 points and 10 rebounds, the first Opening Night double-double in franchise history. Butts had 13, including three three-pointers, and Lovelace-Tolbert scored 12.
Minnesota evened its record at 1-1 two nights later after rallying to defeat Sacramento, 69-61, at Arco Arena. Smith scored 20 of her 22 points in the second half as the Lynx closed the game on a 15-4 run. New forward Lassiter added 15 points on 7-for-10 shooting. In the closing game of the road trip, Minnesota scored a franchise-low 44 points in a 56-44 defeat to the San Antonio Silver Stars on May 26. Ohlde scored 14 points, but she was the only member of the Lynx in double figures.
The Lynx then kicked off a four-game homestand with a 73-62 win on May 28 against the Washington Mystics. Minnesota jumped out to an 18-2 lead in the first five minutes as the Lynx improved to 4-2 in Home Openers. Smith scored a game-high 28 points, scoring nine of the team's last 11 points and hitting all 12 of her free throws.
New York won its fourth straight Target Center appearance with a 68-64 victory on May 30. Lassiter gave Minnesota a one-point lead with a jumper with 2:31 remaining, but the Liberty responded on the next possession and the Lynx couldn't regain the lead. Smith had 20 points, hitting all four of her free throws to bring her season streak to 23-of-23, and Edwards had 13 as the Lynx closed the month with a 2-3 record.
Lynx Game-By-Game Results – May 2004
|Game||Date||Opponent||Result||Record||High Pts||High Reb||Attendance|
|Pre 1||May 5||Sacramento||W 78-60||1-0||Jacobs 12
|Pre 2||May 11||Detroit||W 74-65||2-0||Ohlde 12
|Three players 5||3,432|
|Pre 3||May 15||Detroit||W 58-56||3-0||Smith 13||Five players 4||N/A|
|1||May 20||@ Seattle||L 85-88||0-1||Edwards 17
|2||May 22||@ Sacramento||W 69-61||1-1||Smith 22||Williams 10||17,317|
|3||May 26||@ San Antonio||L 44-56||1-2||Ohlde 14||Ohlde 9||6,517|
|4||May 28||Washington||W 73-62||2-2||Smith 28||Williams 9||6,361|
|5||May 30||New York||L 64-68||2-3||Smith 20||Williams 9||6,009|