Fever use late rally to down Lynx, who drop to bottom of the WNBA standings – Twin Cities

Positives for the Minnesota Lynx Sunday night were overshadowed by the end result.

There was again plenty of head shaking and searching for answers after, but the bottom line is the Indiana Fever scored the final six points of an 84-80 win.

Minnesota has lost five of six and is in last place in the 12-team WNBA with a 3-11 record.

“We’re battling,” said associate coach Katie Smith, who filled in for coach Cheryl Reeve postgame. “You can’t say we’re not playing hard or don’t want to win or we’re not here. We do. We just got to put it together for longer periods of time and not have mental and physical breakdowns that are happening in those spurts.”

As for a player perspective?

“We know our record,” said Aerial Powers, who scored 15 points, grabbed a career-best 11 rebounds and dished out a career-high seven assists. “We feel like we’re a better team and I still believe in us, and I think we all still believe in each other. … At one point we have to just get tired of losing and take these games.”

Nikolina Milic scored a career-best 23 points, including 13 in the 29-point third quarter that let the Lynx take a three-point lead into the final frame.

But Minnesota scored just 15 points in the fourth, none in the final 1:47 when the Lynx missed two layups, and a rushed 29-foot, 3-point try in the closing seconds that would have tied the game. The Lynx were 0 for 6 outside the arc in the frame.

A pair of free throws by Kelsey Mitchell gave Indiana (4-12) a three-point lead with 13.3 seconds left.

NaLyssa Smith led the Fever with 21 points, Danielle Robinson had 16 and Mitchell and Victoria Vivians 15 apiece.

Milic converted a feed from Bridget Carleton to make it 78-all with 2:12 to play, and Jessica Shepard added a couple free throws before Vivians hit a wide-open 3-pointer for an 81-80 lead with 1:29 to go.

Milic missed a layup with 22.5 seconds left. There was contact, but nothing was called.

“It was obvious foul (to) me,” she said. “We are not looking for excuses in any case. It’s one possession, so it could have been anything not only that shot, like something before also.”

Milic was at her offensive best in the third quarter with 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting as Minnesota turned a seven-point deficit into a three-point lead heading into the final quarter. It is just the second time this season Minnesota has led going to the fourth.

Things got heated in a 71-68 game with 6:06 left.

On a semi-fast break, Powers was knocked to the floor on a pseudo-check from Vivians. Powers quickly got up and pushed NaLyssa Smith. Powers, Smith and Indiana’s Queen Egbo were all assessed technical fouls, the latter for trying to get involved before she was pushed by Powers and Damiris Dantas.

Powers said her reaction stems from a perception that teams feel they can now come into Target Center and run all over the downtrodden Lynx.

“That’s not why I came to this organization,” she said. “Our coach is more like, ‘When you come to play the Minnesota Lynx, you’re scared of us.’ But right now, I feel like we don’t have that edge. For me to do that it was more for my teammates, myself to get us going.”

Minnesota shot 45.1 percent from the field, and it outscored the Fever 48-40 in the paint. However, the Lynx were only 24 for 43 in the area.

With center Sylvia Fowles still out, the Lynx played without starting forward Kayla McBride, who is in what Reeve said pregame is a “wait and see” mode as she deals with some ankle/foot pain. “Doesn’t make sense to overdo it right now.”

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