Sky’s late effort isn’t enough, as Lynx prevail 83-81

PALMETTO, FL - JULY 30: Sylvia Fowles shoots and scores against the Sky. Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images.
PALMETTO, FL – JULY 30: Sylvia Fowles shoots and scores against the Sky. Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images.

Unable to score two layups in the game’s closing seconds, the Chicago Sky lost a hard-fought game to the Minnesota Lynx Thursday, 83-81.

It was the first loss of the season for the Sky, which had previously pulled out two impressive wins. Coach James Wade said he was disappointed that his team had to rely on late-game heroics for a second time after an inconsistent overall effort.

“I appreciated the fight (at game’s end),” Wade said. “I just didn’t think we had to be there. I would have rather had a sense of urgency from the get-go. I know we’re tired, but everybody’s tired. But you just have to dig down. You have to find something where it doesn’t make that togetherness come apart and start thinking on your own.”

Courtney Vandersloot scored 16 points and tallied just 4 assists after dishing 21 dimes over the team’s first two games. Azurá Stevens earned the first double-double of her career, scoring 16 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Her front court mate Cheyenne Parker had a double-double as well, with 16 points, 10 rebounds.

Napheesa Collier led Minnesota with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Kahleah Copper, who scored 39 points over the team’s first two games, scored just six points against the Lynx. Despite Copper’s impressive offensive start over the weekend, she only took six shots against the Lynx. Wade doesn’t want to put the pressure to score solely on her shoulders, as he believes that moving the ball will create more opportunities for his players to score. Chicago is the best passing team in the league, but only had 18 assists against Minnesota.

“Our team hasn’t really been a team that you’re going to have the same person have fifteen shots a night,” Wade said. “We’ve never been that team since I’ve been here. The ball has to move. I feel like if we trusted the ball to move (Copper) would have gotten more shots, but the ball didn’t move.”

“We only got 18 assists as a team and we settled for a lot of contested jump shots, which we shouldn’t have. The ball has to move, we attack close outs, we skip it, and we move it. I think if we do that you’ll see her probably get more shots.”

The Sky lost the rebounding battle 35-33, and failed to protect the paint, scoring 28 paint points while giving up 36. As the second best three-point shooting team in the league, they went just 6-for-24 from distance. Gabby Williams shot 0-for-6 from behind the arc while sharp shooter Allie Quigley went 1-8.

Chicago was playing their third game in five nights, but Wade didn’t use fatigue as an excuse for the loss.

“We aren’t going to go out and practice like crazy because we can’t, it’s just not smart,” he said. “So, we do a lot of things through film work, walk-through’s and things of that nature. But it’s just tough, but everybody has the same issues, everybody has the same problems. And if we think that this is tough, we’re going to have to do this for 10 straight games where we go we play, we’re off a day, we play, we’re off a day. This is what we signed up for.”

A bright spot on the night was that Vandersloot moved into fifth place on the WNBA’s all-time assist leaders list (1,710), passing Becky Hammon. She saluted those that came before her after the game.

“The players I looked up to are all the ones in that top five,” Vandersloot said. “I looked at the list today, and all those players, incredible point guards. Becky Hammon was so much fun to watch. Obviously coming from Seattle, Sue Bird is somebody that I’ve watched for a really long time and she’s still doing it at such a high level.”

“So, Ticha [Penicheiro] Diana [Taurasi], all of them are just incredible. I looked at the numbers and I was like, ‘I’m never catching them! This might be the only time!’ So, I’m honored to be up on that list. Some of the best players in the world are on that list.”

The Sky have Friday off before taking on the defending WNBA champion Washington Mystics Saturday night.