Lynx fall to two-time defending champion Aces

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Off to a strong start, and with the two-time defending champions in town, was Wednesday’s game the biggest of the season for the Minnesota Lynx?

Sure, coach Cheryl Reeve said pregame, because it’s the next one.

And the result is something the Lynx will surely learn from.

In a matchup of the top-scoring teams in the WNBA, Las Vegas pulled away in the fourth quarter for an 80-66 win.

Reeve said the Lynx defense was good enough to win, but the physicality of Las Vegas was problematic for the Minnesota offense that was too often stagnant.

“Our finest moments are when we’re getting in and out of screens quickly, when we’re seeking the paint and when we cut. … We just didn’t get that done with any frequency. Then Phee is trying to do something one on one, instead of movement, collapse the defense, play behind, and we’ve done that extremely well,” she said.

Napheesa Collier led the Lynx (4-2) with 18 points and 13 rebounds. She is trying to take the positive of when the game occurred.

“Now we can look at film, we know what it feels like we can scheme against it because we know what it looks like. And so instead of just trying to continue to play how we’ve been playing, we can go into things and get to things differently.”

A’ja Wilson led the Aces with 29 points and 15 rebounds, Jackie Young had 19 points and 10 assists and Kelsey Plum scored five of her 10 points in a key fourth-quarter stretch. Each entered the night averaging at least 20.8 points.

Entering the game shooting a league-best 47% from the field, Minnesota shot a season-low 36.9%. Its previous low for points was 82.

“We did get good shots. I missed some layups, we missed some open shots, Courtney missed some that she normally makes, we had some missed threes,” Collier said. “It was an off night for us. And, you know, kudos to Vegas because they played some really good defense. But we did miss a lot of shots that we normally make.”

Courtney Williams had 12 points and eight assists, Cecilia Zandalasini had a dozen points, but Minnesota was outscored 23-10 in the final 10 minutes, 26 seconds.

Down by 11 early in the third quarter, the Lynx got within one on a pair of free throws by Kayla McBride, but Kate Martin hit from deep and Wilson picked off a Williams pass and scored on a layup in the quarter’s final second.

Las Vegas (4-1) kept its hot hand into the fourth quarter.

Five points by Plum and a 3-pointer from Young put Las Vegas up by a dozen to cap a 13-2 run.

McBride scored from deep, but Wilson got four points inside and Young drained another 3 midway through the quarter to make it 77-61.

Miller update

Forward Diamond Miller, out the past three games with a right knee injury, underwent a cleanup surgical procedure Wednesday.

“She’ll be back,” Reeve said. “Scopes are typically four-to-six weeks. I don’t necessarily know they want to put that time on her.”

Miller had right knee surgery in April 2022 at the University of Maryland and had offseason meniscus surgery on her left knee that prevented her from playing overseas.

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