Women’s Basketball Daily Briefing: GOLD LYNX—Minnesota wallop Aces

It’s the Fourth of July. I’m not particularly feeling much reason for celebration this year; but if you are, then Happy Fourth! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W Roundup, daily Watch List and Yesterday’s Recap. Day 50 of the WNBA season is here, following the Minnesota Lynx being … uh … good? Last night, a Lynx team that was once 3-13 honored all-time legend Rebekkah Brunson by clobbering the Aces by 31 points, despite Las Vegas only committing six turnovers — the first-such win in WNBA history, per Across The Timeline. The Aces are now 2-4 over their last six, by the way, while the Lynx’s record across their past six is exactly the inverse. Minnesota sits 2.5 games out of a playoff spot, as Moriah Jefferson looks better than she has at any point since her early knee injuries, Aerial Powers has figured out how to score efficiently of late, Damiris Dantas has figured out how to hit shots, and the bench has truly come together.

Is this sustainable? Eh … probably not, just given that the bulk of the aforementioned players’ careers suggests that those can’t be your best options outside of Sylvia Fowles’ limited minutes. That being said, Kayla McBride will probably start shooting better at some point, and there is a Napheesa Collier somewhere on the horizon. So if the Lynx can improbably keep this up, they may just sneak into playing in late August.

Now, whether doing so is a worthwhile endeavor — with no hope of contention, in a year Aliyah Boston and Haley Jones and Diamond Miller are in the lottery — is a question unto itself.

But first, read:

W Roundup

Connecticut: Signed big Joyner Holmes and off-ball guard Jazmine Jones to their second seven-day contracts, after each’s first expired yesterday

New York: Re-signed point guard Crystal Dangerfield to a rest-of-season contract

Minnesota: Signed big Nikolina Milić to her second seven-day contract, after her first expired yesterday

Watch List, Monday, June 4

(All times in Eastern)

Phoenix @ Los Angeles, 7 p.m., ESPN

Sunday, July 3 recap

Connecticut (14-7) beat Washington (13-10), 74-72 in overtime. The Mystics had a 94.3% win expectancy with a 17-point lead in the mid-third quarter, then allowed a 26-8 Sun run over the next 13 minutes; Washington scored a league-low seven points in the fourth quarter. The Mystics shot just 39.1% from the field and 19.0% from three; the teams combined for 21 steals, part of 36 turnovers; the teams combined for 34 foul; Connecticut notched a season-high seven blocks.

Big Alyssa Thomas led the Sun with 23 points on 9-for-17 from the field and 5-for-8 from the line, nine rebounds, two assists, and two blocks against two turnovers; combo guard Natisha Hiedeman had 14 points on a career-high-tying 4-for-9 from three (1-3 from two), five assists, and a career-high five steals; combo guard Courtney Williams fouled-out in 37 minutes, finishing with 15 points on 7-for-15 shooting (1-2 3pt.), six rebounds, four assists, and two steals against four turnovers, plus some very questionable decision-making on both ends.

Washington was led by off-ball guard Ariel Atkins’ 18 points on 7-for-13 from the field and 2-for-6 from the line, four assists, and four steals against two turnovers and four fouls in 36 minutes; center Shakira Austin had 13 points on 4-for-6 FG (5-8 FT), three rebounds, and two assists against two turnovers; off-ball guard Alysha Clark notched 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting (1-5 3pt.), seven rebounds, and two steals against five turnovers.

Atlanta (10-11) beat Seattle (13-8), 90-76. The Dream led by 14 in the late second quarter, but the Storm took a 9-0 run into halftime and cut the lead to four in the mid-third; Atlanta then went on a 17-3 run. The Dream shot 12.2 percentage points better from the field and 10.8 better from three, while winning the rebounding battle by 14; Seattle assisted on 17 of its 22 buckets; the Storm notched 11 steals; Atlanta committed 23 fouls.

Big Cheyenne Parker led the Dream with a season-high 21 points in 29 minutes — including 10 in the first quarter — on 9-for-17 FG (0-2 3pt.), nine rebounds (three offensive), and four assists against four turnovers; wing Rhyne Howard had 16 points on 7-for-12 shooting (2-4 3pt.), five rebounds, two assists, and a “career”-high-tying three steals without a turnover; off-ball guard AD notched 13 points in 16 bench minutes on 3-for-3 from three (1-2 from two) and two rebounds; backup point guard Aari McDonald tallied 13 points on 3-for-5 from the field (1-2 3pt.) and 6-for-6 from the line in 15 minutes.

Los Angeles (9-11) beat New York (8-12), 84-74. The Sparks led for the first 16-plus minutes, trailed for the next 6.5, then held the lead for almost the entire rest of the game; the Liberty were within one point with under five minutes to go, but promptly allowed six-straight Los Angeles points. The Sparks shot 6.7 percentage points better from the field, but allowed an extra 6-for-17 from three to New York; Los Angeles won the rebounding battle by nine; the Liberty assisted on 22 of their 27 buckets, but committed 17 turnovers.

Big Nneka Ogwumike led the Sparks with 22 points on 9-for-13 shooting (0-1 3pt.) and six rebounds without a turnover; backup center Chiney Ogwumike recorded a double-double despite committing four fouls in 17 minutes, plus an uncalled should-be flagrant foul that possibly re-concussed Rebecca Allen, with 12 points (4-6 FG) and a season-high-tying 10 rebounds; backup point guard Jordin Canada played 33 minutes after combo guard Kristi Toliver suffered a first-quarter calf injury, and finished with 11 points on 3-for-11 from the field (0-1 3pt.) and 5-for-8 from the line, four rebounds, and seven assists against three turnovers.

New York was led by combo guard Sabrina Ionescu’s near-triple-double of 14 points on 5-for-18 from the field and 3-for-12 from three, nine rebounds, and eight assists, against six turnovers; wing Marine Johannès had 17 points on a career-high-tying 5-for-9 from three (1-2 from two), four rebounds, four assists, and two steals against three turnovers; big Natasha Howard notched 13 points on 4-for-12 FG (1-4 3pt., 4-6 FT), four rebounds, four assists, and three steals against four turnovers and four fouls in 33 minutes.

Minnesota (7-15) obliterated Las Vegas (15-6), 102-71. The Lynx scored the first 13 points of the game, and led 33-15 after the first quarter; the closest the Aces got was within nine points for a few seconds in the late second quarter. Minnesota shot 50.0% from the field and 41.4% from three, while holding Vegas to 36.8% overall; the Lynx grabbed a franchise-high-tying 53 rebounds, including 15 offensive boards, winning the rebounding battle by 18 and recording the fifth-highest defensive rebounding rate in league history, per ATT.

Off-ball guard Aerial Powers led the Lynx with a career-high 32 points in just 28 minutes on 10-for-17 from the field, 3-for-7 from three, and 9-for-12 from the line, six rebounds, and four assists against three turnovers; point guard Moriah Jefferson had 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting (2-3 3pt.), three rebounds, six assists, and three steals against four fouls in 27 minutes; backup combo guard Rachel Banham notched 13 points on 2-for-6 from three (2-2 from two) and two assists without a turnover.

The Aces were led by point guard Kelsey Plum’s 12 points on 4-for-12 from the field and 3-for-8 from three and five assists without a turnover; center A’ja Wilson had 10 points on 4-for-9 FG (0-1 3pt.) and seven rebounds without a turnover; point guard Chelsea Gray notched eight points on 3-for-5 shooting, three rebounds, and four assists against two turnovers in 20 minutes.

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