ATLANTA – The numbers don't lie: Minnesota has outscored Atlanta by 25 points in the fourth quarters of the first two games of the 2011 WNBA Finals. 25 POINTS.
At the start of the fourth quarter of Game 1 on Sunday night, the Dream and Lynx were locked in a 62-62 tie and Minnesota unleashed a 26-12 run to close out the game.
In Game 2 last night, the Lynx trailed by five points before a 32-21 game-ending effort pushed Minnesota to the brink of their first WNBA Championship.
Minnesota point guard Lyndsay Whalen acknowledged the now glaring disparity and while obviously reticent to risk giving Atlanta or the press any bulletin-board material with a title for her home-state Lynx hanging in the balance, she did make a telling point.
"Yeah, it's been big," said the former Golden Gopher when asked about a second-straight lopsided fourth quarter. "I don't know, it just feels like at that point [fourth quarter] we get stops and then we're able to run and get the momentum going. We just had to stay together and continue to move the ball and just continue to play our defense ... those were huge keys to the game for us."
Move the ball. Last night, when Rebekkah Brunson hit a free throw at the 3:07 mark of the fourth quarter, giving Minnesota an 88-85 lead, she was the seventh Lynx player to score in the quarter. Move the ball.
So, the Lynx moved the ball around, ran their offense and trusted each other to make the extra pass and knock down shots. Seven different scorers (Seimone Augustus, Whalen, Brunson, Jessica Adair, Candice Wiggins, Amber Harris and Maya Moore) helped erase that six-point deficit.
McCoughtry, who to her credit helped get Lyttle involved offensively with a nifty drive and dish during that fourth-quarter sequence, evoked the memory of a legendary hoops winner when addressing the issue.
"Bill Russell always said the reason he won a lot of championships was because he made his teammates happy," said McCoughtry after the game."And that's what I want. As a leader, if my teammates are happy that makes us whole. So as a leader that's what I've been working on. Everybody needs to be happy. You gotta share the ball, little things like that."
It would appear the Lynx happily agree.