Balanced Lynx take down New York, improve to 3-1

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Maybe Kayla McBride getting called for a technical was the spark the Minnesota Lynx needed.

Whistled for voicing displeasure to an official, McBride drained back-to-back 3-pointers to help kickstart a 17-7 second-half Lynx run, and the Lynx went on to beat the New York Liberty 84-67 Saturday.

Kayla McBride (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

“I just wanted to be more aggressive,” said McBride, who finished with 14 points, five rebounds and five assists. “Last game (Thursday’s 83-82 overtime loss in Connecticut) we needed to do more to just take the game and I think we kind of had that same thing … to just go all out and be aggressive. That’s really all that was.”

She wasn’t alone.

Four Lynx starters scored in double figures. Napheesa Collier had her third double-double in four games with 15 points and 12 assists, Alanna Smith had 15 points, and Bridget Carleton scored 14 points starting in place of an injured Diamond Miller.

Coach Cheryl Reeve acknowledges the Lynx don’t have a “Big Three” or multiple MVP candidates like some teams, meaning a lack of selfishness is key to Lynx success. Minnesota finished with 26 assists on 32 baskets.

“For us it has to be by committee,” Reeve said. “We have really good players that are on this roster and doing it as a collective.”

Tied at 55 late in the third quarter, Minnesota outscored the Liberty 29-12 the rest of the way at Target Center.

Minnesota (3-1) shot 47.8%, while holding New York (4-2) to 38.2%, including 21.4% in the fourth. It was the fewest points scored by the Liberty since they had 64 on May 19, 2023.

“We had some lapses in the first half, so it was an emphasis at halftime to clog the paint, make things difficult for them at the point of screens, being physical,” Carleton said. “We knew we had to be physical with them, make things hard and make them make more than one play. … We were able to do that, especially in the second half of the fourth quarter.”

The Lynx also did it earlier on route to a 21-point lead in the second before New York was able to make it a game.

“I would say that the fourth quarter was more like the first quarter,” Reeve said. “We really committed to what we were trying to get done. We got away from it the second quarter, we were imploring them and third quarter to understand the path to be successful.”

Keyed with success from deep, the Lynx scored 20 straight points in a 25-2 surge between the first and second to go up 38-17 early in the second.

Minnesota was 7 for-11 on 3s in the opening quarter and finished 14 of 28. Four players had multiple 3-pointers, something that did not happen in a game last season.

Aided by seven Lynx turnovers that turned into 14 Liberty points, Breanna Stewart had eight points and Courtney Vandersloot added seven as part of the 23-6 run over the final six minutes of the second to get New York within 44-40 at intermission.

Minnesota started the day with a league-worst 20.7 turnovers per game, but had zero in the opening quarter, before committing nine in the second. It finished with 16.

Back from playing in Italy, center Dorka Juhász had four points and four rebounds in 17 minutes.

Minus Miller

Miller missed the first of what is expected to be many games with a right knee injury sustained Thursday in Connecticut. A Friday MRI showed the No. 2 pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft will be sidelined indefinitely.

“There’s a situation that she has to discuss with her doctor,” Reeve said.

Miller, who had right knee surgery in April 2022 at Maryland, had offseason meniscus surgery on her left knee which prevented her from playing overseas.

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