Lynx’s Kayla McBride has career night in victory over Atlanta

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Basketball is a team game, but the bulk of Sunday’s kudos need to be directed at Kayla McBride.

That happens when you have an historic night.

McBride scored a season-high 31 points as the Minnesota Lynx won 92-79 at Atlanta.

Minnesota’s shooting guard was perfect from the field until about two minutes remained, finishing 10 of 12 overall. She made the first six of her seven 3-point attempts. And she was 5 for 5 at the free-throw line. She did not commit a foul and had just one turnover in playing 31 minutes, 36 seconds.

“This is just crazy for her position: first player in league history to score more than 30 points, shooting better than 80% from the field, 100% from the foul line, making six or more threes or making five or more free-throw attempts,” said coach Cheryl Reeve. “We needed it.”

McBride averaged 13.8 points in the first four Lynx games.

“You don’t walk into a game knowing, like, I’m going to do all these crazy things. I just wanted to be aggressive from the jump. I felt good when my first shot went down,” McBride said. “I have a lot of faith and confidence in my shot and I was just doing it. I was enjoying it. My teammates were finding me in good spots. Just having fun.”

McBride’s point total is the most in her four seasons in Minnesota and ties the second-highest of her career. She had 38 while playing for Las Vegas on June 27, 2018.

“When you see the first one go down, the hoop kind of gets bigger. So just enjoying it. You never know when you’re going to have opportunities to do something like that again. I was just having fun, being aggressive, confident and letting it fly.”

Seeing her teammate’s success, Napheesa Collier said the offensive game plan became simple.

“Pass her the ball. She was so hot it was crazy. She was just throwing it up and like swish, swish, swish. It was just so fun to see, Collier said. “Mac might not think about it, but on the bench I was like we need to get you to 30. … Six of seven threes is just wild; 10 for 12 is a crazy stat.”

Up by four at the break, the Lynx (4-1) pulled away in the third quarter. They outscored Atlanta 26-12 in those 10 minutes by making 8 of 13 shots, including 6 of 9 from deep.

Atlanta (2-2) entered the game as one of the league’s top 3-point shooting teams, but made just 6 of 22 attempts.

“Our defense has put us in position to win every game,” Reeve said. The Lynx have the league’s top defensive rating at 91.2. Seattle is second at 94.6.

Down by 18 to start the fourth quarter, Atlanta got within 11 with McBride and Collier getting a much-deserved breather. Reinserted into the game midway through the frame, McBride stroked another trey less than a minute later.

Collier, knocked to the floor on too many shots against a Dream squad that likes to be physical, finished with 20 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

Alanna Smith finished with 17 points, five assists and four rebounds. Courtney Williams added nine points, six rebounds and five assists.

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