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Lynx hope to find offense against defensive-minded Storm

Sportsnaut
May 29, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart (30) dribbles the ball against the New York Liberty at Climate Pledge Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

The sputtering Minnesota Lynx will conclude a three-game homestand on Tuesday, looking to end a losing skid when they host the Seattle Storm.

Minnesota (3-11) dropped to last place in the WNBA on Sunday, losing its third consecutive game and fifth in the past six, 84-80 to Indiana.

Losing to Indiana came on the heels of the Lynx scoring a season-low 59 points in a 76-59 loss to the Washington Mystics.

“You can’t say we’re not playing hard or don’t want to win. We do,” associate head coach Katie Smith said in Sunday’s postgame press conference. “We have to put it together for good periods of time, not have physical and mental breakdowns.”

Minnesota comes into Tuesday’s contest allowing 84.4 points per game and have surrendered at least 84 in four of the last five losses.

Scoring consistently has not gone much better. The Lynx rank 10th in the league at 77.2 points per game, and failed to reach 70 points in two of the past three outings.

The 2017 league Most Valuable Player, Sylvia Fowles, is on track for her eighth All-Star Game, averaging 16.5 points per game on 64.1 percent shooting from the floor. Fowles is also averaging 10.3 rebounds.

A lack of reliable perimeter scoring to complement Fowles has been an issue, however, with Minnesota shooting a league-worst 30.5 percent from 3-point range.

Meanwhile, Seattle (8-5) comes in boasting some of the best defense in the WNBA at 76.6 points allowed per game. The Storm have been excellent defensively on the perimeter, limiting opponents to 32.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc and creating a league-leading 9.4 steals per game.

Seattle ignited its current, three-game winning streak with a 72-60 win over Atlanta on June 7. The Storm held the Dream scoreless for the game’s final 3:52.

Offense buoyed Seattle in higher-scoring wins the past two times out — in particular, Breanna Stewart’s offense.

The 2018 MVP scored a season-high 32 points, including the two game-winning free throws, in the Storm’s 89-88 win at Dallas on Friday. She followed up with a 25-point, eight-rebound, three-steal effort in a second consecutive win over the Wings on Sunday, 84-79.

Stewart leads the league in scoring at 21.7 points per game and steals with 2.5.

Jewell Loyd also has delivered key performances in Seattle’s ongoing winning streak. She matched a season-high with 26 points against Atlanta, then scored 18 and 22 points in the wins at Dallas.

Loyd shot a combined 7-of-14 from 3-point range in the matchups with the Wings, who opened a five-game road swing for the Storm. She made the last of her four 3-pointers on Sunday to extend a two-point lead to five in a hotly contested fourth quarter.

Seattle has relied on such clutch baskets down the stretch in each of its past three wins.

“It’s difficult to win on the road,” Seattle coach Noelle Quinn said following Sunday’s contest. “For this particular team and this particular season, I like how we are progressing in those moments and having mental fortitude in (late-game) moments.”

–Field Level Media