The Minnesota Lynx head to Indianapolis Thursday to warm up for Game 3 of the WNBA finals Friday night against the Indiana Fever. The best of five series is tied at a game apiece following the Lynx's 83-71 victory Wednesday night at Target Center -- a victory that came after a slow start.
First, the Lynx stumbled in Game 1 of the finals on Sunday, losing by six points to the underdog Fever. And with the Lynx trailing slightly at the half last night, fans feared that might happen again.
But in the 3rd quarter something clicked for Minnesota and the team began playing more aggressively than they have so far in this series. Four minutes in, Seimone Augustus took advantage of a bad pass by Indiana, and drove in a running jump shot. Less than a minute later another of her jump shots briefly tied the game at 44-all.
WNBA FINALS PHOTO GALLERIES
• Game 1 Fever 76, Lynx 70
• Game 2: Lynx 83, Fever 71
But the Lynx really came alive after Indiana's Briann January blocked a shot from Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen. Whalen argued for a foul call, but instead an official gave her a technical foul. Lynx Coach Cheryl Reeve got a technical herself for arguing with the ref. At that point Reeve lost it. She pulled off her jacket, and tried to charge onto the court. Assistant Coach Jim Petersen -- a former NBA player -- resurrected his defense skills and used his 6-foot 10-inch frame to keep his boss from getting any further.
After that excitement, Maya Moore closed out the quarter with two layups and a free throw, and Augustus sunk a three pointer just before the buzzer to give the Lynx a five point lead. That lead widened throughout the fourth quarter, and the Lynx won 83-71.
After the game, Reeve was asked if her courtside jacket-throwing was a tactic to rev up her team.
"We've got a lot of league people here. It's the WNBA finals. So we're going to have to be really, really careful in the things that we have to say. Clearly I wasn't happy in that moment. I'm not happy about how the game was officiated, period. But that's all I'm going to say about it," she said.
Reeve says what really lit a fire under the Lynx was Indiana's aggressive defense in the first half. That, she says, set the tone and got the Lynx to up their game.
Lin Dunn, the coach for the Indiana Fever, says in 42 years of coaching, this was the most physical game she's ever been a part of.
"I don't know what to call it. I'm not going to call it basketball. Maybe it's basket-football or something. But it was pretty rough out there, and we're going to have to adapt to that," she said.
Indiana guard Jeannette Pohlen injured her knee in the second quarter after colliding with Taj McWilliams-Franklin. The Fever also have been playing without their top scorer Katie Douglas, who hurt her ankle in the conference finals.
Center McWilliams-Franklin says people don't realize how rough the WNBA can be.
"I think by far the WNBA is much tougher than any other league besides the National Hockey League. It's like wrestling," she said. "I love the WWE and UFC and all the skills I know from it come in handy."
The 42-year-old veteran will make a record 63rd playoff appearance Friday night as the Fever host the Lynx in Game 3. And Minnesota's win last night ensures there will be a Game 4 too, as the Lynx defend their 2011 WNBA title.