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Storm’s runaway win dampens Lynx’s playoff chances

The Lynx now sit in 11th place in the 12-team league, 1½ games behind Atlanta, New York and Phoenix who are tied for seventh. Minnesota has four games left, three against teams that would currently be in the playoffs.

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The Seattle Storm is looking for momentum heading into the postseason; Minnesota is still trying to qualify for playoff basketball.

Seattle’s hopes are much improved after the Storm ran past the Lynx 89-77 Wednesday in the Pacific Northwest, a score not indicative of the one-sided game.

As for Minnesota?

Licking its wounds, the Lynx now sit in 11th place in the 12-team league, 1½ games behind Atlanta, New York and Phoenix who are tied for seventh. Minnesota has four games left, three against teams that would currently be in the playoffs.

Of course, if Minnesota doesn’t play better it won’t matter.

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To win their third straight, the Lynx needed to be good defensively and move the ball around on offense.

Instead, Minnesota put up little defensive fight early, letting Seattle get out and run, run and then run some more. When it wasn’t running, Seattle shooters were too often left wide open by the Lynx defense.

“I think we played probably one of our worst games so far and we just were not disciplined and everything we talked about in the locker room we didn’t get done on the court, like they scored on us on every level,” said Nikolina Milic, who led Minnesota with 13 points and six rebounds off the bench.

After holding their past two opponents to under 39% shooting, the Storm shot 50%. Minnesota was 46.4% from the field.

Fast-break points? Seattle 30, Minnesota 8.

The Storm (20-12), who entered the night averaging just under a dozen fast-break points per game, had 17 in the first quarter and 26 in the first half, the most in a half this season in the WNBA.

Seattle made four straight treys out of the gate for a 12-0 lead barely 2 minutes into the contest at sold-out Climate Pledge Arena for the penultimate regular-season home game for future Hall of Famer Sue Bird.

She finished with 13 points, including three 3-pointers. Breanna Stewart led the Storm with a season-high 33 points; her fourth 3 made it 74-47 late in the third quarter.

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Rachel Banham scored 24 points and Sylvia Fowles recorded 20 points and 17 rebounds for Minnesota (9-16), which had a three-game winning streak halted.

“The major focus was the 3-point line, and clearly in the first half that was not something that got done, and when we didn’t score we didn’t have this mindset of picking people up and really setting the tone at the 3-point line,” said coach Cheryl Reeve. “We were too far off of people. We’re just lazy. I thought we were pretty flat for whatever reason as they played off of our offense.”

Minnesota (12-20), which had four fast-break points at the half, set season futility marks for first-quarter points allowed (30) and first-half points (56).

Seattle shot 50% from the field, including 9 of 16 (56.3%) on 3-pointers in opening a 24-point halftime cushion. Minnesota shot just 37.8% from the field, including 2 of 9 from outside the arc, and committed eight of its 14 turnovers.

Lynx starters were a combined minus-109.

Sylvia Fowles was the only Lynx starter to score in double figures with 12 points and six rebounds.

Collier update

Napheesa Collier worked “at a very intense pace” with a trainer during the team’s Wednesday shootaround.

The 2019 Rookie of the Year and two-time All-Star has missed the entire season after giving birth to her daughter, Mila, on May 25, but she hopes to get one more chance to play with Fowles, who has announced this is her final season.

“Progressing is probably the best way to say it; there haven’t been any setbacks. She has looked from week to week like she’s improving; she’s put a lot of time in,” Reeve said.

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