Lynx keep rolling as Napheesa Collier leads another team effort

22August 2020

The Minnesota Lynx continue to get contributions from up and down the roster.

And they keep winning.

Friday night was the latest example in a 90-80 win over Phoenix in Bradenton, Fla.

Napheesa Collier scored 20 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out six assists. She also had four steals and two blocks with just two turnovers.

Winners of three straight and four of five, Minnesota improved to 9-3 and is tied with Los Angeles and Las Vegas for the second-best record in the league. The Lynx have won 14 of their past 15 regular-season meetings against Phoenix.

Damiris Dantas scored a season-high 19 points with six rebounds for the Lynx and Crystal Dangerfield also had 19 points.

For the second straight game, Bridget Carleton took advantage of extra playing time with 14 points, five rebounds and six assists. She had nine points and nine rebounds Wednesday.

“It was just us making easy basketball plays, doing what we’re good at, finding people where they want to score,” Collier said.

The Lynx shot 26 for 58 from the field and made 29 of 35 free throws, both season highs from the line. Two nights after making a season-high 14 3-pointers in a comeback win over Dallas, Minnesota was 9 of 19 from outside the arc.

However, Minnesota was whistled for 22 fouls in a game that ended after midnight inside the bubble at IMG Academy. Phoenix (6-7) had 25 infractions.

“We won the free-throw battle … I didn’t expect for us to give up (29),” coach Cheryl Reeve said.

Collier scored 11 straight Lynx points in the third quarter and Minnesota pushed its lead to 69-58 heading to the final frame.

Bria Hartley, who led Phoenix with 24 points, drained a 3-point shot and Alanna Smith converted a 3-point play to get the Mercury within 75-70 midway through the fourth quarter.

A three-point play by Dangerfield pushed the Lynx lead to eight with 3:16 left before Sklyar Diggins-Smith countered with a 3 for Phoenix. Two free throws from Collier and a basket from Carleton pushed the lead 85-76 with 2:12 to play. Carleton fed Dantas for a layup about a minute later.

“Her last two plays were the epitome of what Bridget is,” Reeve said. “Simple basketball plays, come off a screen, they trailed her and she goes to the basket, gets English on it, lays it in. Then she’s kind of in trouble, doesn’t have anything going, doesn’t panic, stays low and bounce pass to Damiris for an easy basket that allows to keep arms distance and allows us to seal the win.”

Neither team had its strongest post presence on the court.

Starting Lynx center Sylvia Fowles missed her third straight game with a strained right calf and the Mercury’s Brittney Griner was a late scratch for personal reasons.

“It changes things a little bit in terms of our defense, but other than that we’ve got have strong perimeter defense to be ready to go regardless of who’s playing,” Reeve said

But without Fowles inside presence, Phoenix was focused on attacking the basket early.It led to mixed results. The Mercury had a 32-26 points-in-the-paint advantage, but missed a fair number of close shots. They had three of their six offensive rebounds in the
first quarter.

Dantas had 13 points in the opening half and Carleton 12 and the Lynx led 51-42 at the break.

The game was tight until a 12-0 Minnesota run late in the second quarter that included five points from Collier and a Carleton 3-pointer.

Dantas and Carleton were 9 for 9 from the field in the opening 20 minutes, while the other three starters were a combined 5 for 18.

Odyssey Sims (groin) returned after a one-game absence as did Rachel Banham, who missed the previous two contests due to a strained right hamstring.

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