WNBA: Lynx’s defense smothers Dream

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Napheesa Collier’s 16 points led the Minnesota Lynx to its fifth consecutive win, a 68-55 victory over the Atlanta Dream on Wednesday in Minneapolis.

Minnesota (12-3) moved into a tie for second place in the WNBA with the New York Liberty, behind only the Connecticut Sun.

Atlanta (6-7) lost not only the game but also star guard Rhyne Howard. In the third quarter, the 2022 WNBA No. 1 draft pick landed on the foot of Courtney Williams, rolling her left ankle and not returning to the game.

Minnesota entered Wednesday with a 40.5 percent league-leading efficiency from 3-point range. Instead of deep shooting, though, it was inside work and defense that overcame Atlanta. Minnesota had a season-low 35.5 percent shooting night, but the Lynx outscored Atlanta 36-22 in the paint while only shooting 31.8 percent from deep.

A catalyst of that paint presence was Williams. The veteran point guard led all players with six assists in the win, finding teammates making moves into the paint. Kayla McBride added eight points with Bridget Carleton scoring 14 points and pulling down eight rebounds.

Star Atlanta guards Howard and Allisha Gray struggled to score on a season-low 28.8 percent team shooting night. The duo that averaged 32 points per game entering Wednesday combined for 13 points. Gray shot 1-for-16 from the floor, with Howard going 1-for-9 before leaving due to injury. It was veteran center Tina Charles leading all Dream players with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Atlanta entered the game needing to overcome a late injury scratch. Guard and Dream sixth player Aerial Powers didn’t play, missing the game due to illness. Minnesota capitalized, outscoring Atlanta 19-6 in bench points. Minnesota’s Dorka Juhasz scored 10 of those points while grabbing 11 rebounds.

In the first half, the Lynx defense held the Dream to 26.5 percent shooting. Minnesota used that defense and opportune scoring to build a 12-point lead with 7:41 left in the half. However, Atlanta climbed back into the game, cutting the halftime margin to five.

Dream forward Nia Coffey led all players with 11 points in the second quarter, going 3-for-3 from beyond the arc, but she didn’t score a point in the other three periods. The rest of the Atlanta roster went 1-for-12 from 3-point range in the first half. The Dream ended the evening going 4-for-22 from deep.

–Field Level Media

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