You know all those times you’ll be watching a basketball game and it’s out of reach, but the losing team is still fouling? And you’re thinking, “Good grief, give it up! It’s over. We’d all like to go home sometime tonight.”
Well, Tuesday’s 91-85 Minnesota victory over Atlanta was NOT one of those times. In fact, it was just the opposite. I imagine a lot of viewers were like me, sitting there watching this game end and saying, “What the hell just happened?”
If you were not tuned in, here’s what went down: Atlanta’s Iziane Castro Marques was unstoppable early on and eventually finished with a career-high 31 points. (I know she’s not from Rio de Janeiro, but teammate Erika de Souza is. And when the camera focuses on either of them, does anybody else hear “The Girl from Ipanema” playing in their head? Or is it just me?)
When Minnesota went to a zone, however, the Dream’s dreadful lack of 3-point shooting was fully exposed.
Minnesota built its lead to as much as 19, led by Candice Wiggins, Nicky Anosike and Roneeka Hodges. But in the final minutes, the Lynx were playing hot-potato with the ball and seemed to just be waiting for the clock to run out.
During a late timeout, Minnesota coach Jennifer Gillom – who was wired for sound during the game _ had this priceless advice for her suddenly scatter-brained team: “Run a freaking play!”
It was my favorite moment all night.
Well, the Lynx still didn’t quite close it out with authority. In fact, it was a two-possession game – a six-point Minnesota lead – and everyone watching surely was saying, “The Dream has to try to milk these final seconds for any chance to win. Foul ’em, send ’em to the line, hope they miss. Then hope you can nail a couple of 3-pointers.”
Now, admittedly, Atlanta had made just two 3-pointers all game, so the odds weren’t good. But, still, shouldn’t the Dream have at least tried?
Instead, the clock ran out with no fouls, as if the Dream players maybe were hoping to get to a 9:30 movie. ESPN2 announcer Terry Gannon sounded as baffled as we viewers felt. Like, “Did they really just do that?” Now, maybe a few of the Dream players gave a half-hearted effort at fouling … but it wasn’t good enough.
Atlanta fell to 4-6 and might want to look at … well, where to start? Defense? Perimeter shooting? Ball movement? Clock management? Really giving a damn until the final buzzer?
The Dream has talent, but it’s not fully taking advantage of it. And Atlanta seems to have a pretty severe shortage of behind-the-arc firepower.
Meanwhile, the kiddie Lynx got another Seimone-less victory, and did it on the road, no less. It should almost count as a victory and a half.
The Lynx, who made 13 3-pointers, won their third game in a row to move to 7-3. And lately Wiggins almost looks as if she’s back in the 2008 NCAA tournament.