MINNEAPOLIS – Tina Thompson did not need a stat sheet in her hand to know what doomed the Storm on Sunday. An awful start, and an equally awful stretch early in the third quarter, put the Storm so far behind that even a spirited fourth quarter made little difference against the WNBA’s best team.
The Minnesota Lynx led by as many as 31 points while routing the Storm, 90-72, on Sunday, for its league-best ninth consecutive victory and 18th straight at the Target Center. The Lynx turned 10 first-quarter Storm turnovers into 15 points for a 24-10 lead, and the Storm never cut the deficit below double-digits in losing its sixth straight regular-season game here since 2010.
“Ten first-quarter turnovers against a sixth-grade youth team is bad,” Thompson said. “Especially against Minnesota, you’re not going to get any positive things from that. Against any team in the WNBA, ten turnovers is too many.”
Said Storm coach Brian Agler: “That wasn’t good. Against a team like Minnesota, if you turn it over, they’re going to turn it into points right way.”
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Things got even worse in the third quarter, when a 20-5 Lynx run boosted the lead to 29, 66-37. Agler benched starters Thompson, Camille Little, Shekinna Stricklen and Temeka Johnson together with 5:57 left in the quarter, though he brought all back for the fourth. He gave veterans Thompson, Little and Tanisha Wright the option of sitting or returning, and all asked to play.
“We’ve got a team that’s made up of some strong competitors,” Agler said. “I talked to them before the fourth quarter and said, we’ve got a bigger picture here. We can sit you guys out and get on to the next game, or we can play you and see what happens. All three – Tanisha, Camille and Tina – wanted to play. So they went in, we played them, and they played well.”
None, though, could handle Minnesota’s four Western Conference All-Stars, who all scored in double-figures. Power forward Rebekkah Brunson (12 points, 11 rebounds) and small forward Maya Moore (16 points) also combined for eight offensive rebounds.
“They are a very good defensive team, but I don’t think we made good decisions,” Thompson said. “The turnovers we had, the majority of them were very controllable.
“I feel like we can do better. Not to take anything away from Minnesota, but our intensity at times, how we were attacking their offense and getting away from our game plan at times, put us in positions where we couldn’t be effective.”
The Storm finished with 21 turnovers, two short of their season high, and could have lost by a lot more if not for Stricklen’s hot shooting late. Stricklen scored 20 of her 24 points in the second half, hitting 8 for 11 from the field with four three-pointers.