Lynx fall to Washington after rough travel day
For the game, the Lynx committed 16 turnovers and shot 33% from the field while tallying a season-low 57 points — led by 16 from Kayla McBride, who felt the Lynx got good shots that simply weren’t
WASHINGTON -- Sunday’s game in Washington marked Minnesota’s third game in four days — with the final two contests coming on the road.
That’s tough enough in WNBA in the era of commercial travel when everything goes right. Then there are the days like Minnesota had Saturday that even the casual traveler can, unfortunately, relate to.
Lynx forward Natalie Achonwa detailed the log on her Twitter account Saturday. Minnesota’s original flight to Washington D.C. was canceled. The Lynx sat on the tarmac on their next flight for 30 minutes before it went back to the gate due to a malfunction. After everything, Minnesota finally landed in the D.C. area and arrived at its hotel at 1 a.m. after a 12-hour travel day.
That all preceded the Lynx’s 70-57 afternoon loss to the Mystics, which again raised questions about the WNBA’s scheduling given its current travel accommodations.
As her staff scrambled throughout the day to find the next best flight option, Lynx coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said she received no communication from the league throughout the process, nor was there discussion between the WNBA and Minnesota (10-17) about potentially pushing back the game’s start time from its scheduled afternoon tipoff.
Perhaps that would’ve helped the Lynx, who looked sluggish in the first half. Minnesota went just 4 for 17 in the second quarter, including 0 for 6 from deep as it was outscored 24-11 in the second stanza.
For the game, the Lynx committed 16 turnovers and shot 33% from the field while tallying a season-low 57 points — led by 16 from Kayla McBride, who felt the Lynx got good shots that simply weren’t going down.
Washington (16-11) wasn’t much better offensively, but the Mystics got more than enough production from star forward Elena Delle Donne, who finished with 21 points and 10 boards. The Mystics led by double-digits for nearly the entire second half, with the advantage ballooning to 19 late in the third quarter.
Minnesota is now off until Friday, when it will host Connecticut twice in one weekend. The Lynx are three games back in the loss column of the eighth-and-final playoff spot with nine games remaining in the regular season. The Lynx need to get back to stringing together wins, and fast.
“First, we’re going to get some rest,” McBride said. “Four games in six days, this was a lot. This was really a lot, and I’m used to playing year-round and being able to bounce back, but the way that everything was handled, it was hard. It’s hard to show up. You try to do all the right things and be ready, but it’s still really, really hard.”
Before Sunday’s game, Washington coach and general manager Mike Thibault told reporters the Mystics had packed house of fans on Japanese Heritage Day on Sunday, providing logistical challenges to any game time shifts. Travel issues, he noted, have been the norm in the league.
“I’m tired of hearing about it. I’m tired of reading about it on Twitter. I’m tired about it. It happens to every team. And I get it. Every team would like to come in feeling fully refreshened,” Thibault said. “But they got here (Saturday) night. They didn’t play yesterday, and I know it’s a long day, but everybody goes through that. We took a train six hours, and then got on a bus for another hour and a half earlier in the year to play Connecticut.
“That’s just life. And you know, I’d like to feel sorry for them, but I’m sorry I don’t.”
And, frankly, the Lynx didn’t feel sorry for themselves. Minnesota players echoed a belief that they should’ve found a way to win anyway Sunday and just came up short.
“We’ve just got to shoot better. We’ve got to play better, our perimeter players, myself, K-Mac, we have to be able to provide offense, too, Mo hitting some shots. We just have to be better,” Aerial Powers said. “I don’t want to give any excuse about (Saturday’s) travel day. It was long, but at the end of the day, basketball is basketball, and we just have to perform better.”
Still, Reeve simply doesn’t think herself nor her team received the necessary respect they deserved from the league in how the entire situation was handled.
“If you do this long enough, you’re going to be in these situations. And I think when it comes down to the challenges that occur, it’s all about leadership and your ability to collectively work through a situation. I think in our situation, yeah, it was challenging and disappointing that we were in that situation,” Reeve said. “Probably greater disappointment was a lack of support that we felt in terms of unresponsive messages from the league. … There was no communication with the leadership of the Minnesota Lynx. And so that, to me, is an epic fail. And so when you go through these things, it’s unfortunate. Nobody’s blaming anyone, but let’s work through it.”
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