If revenge is a dish best served cold, why did things get so heated at the end of Tuesday night’s game at Target Center?
After a near-collapse, after one Lynx player had already been ejected, after the Dallas Wings had almost climbed back from nine points down with 2 minutes, 25 seconds left, after another series of official reviews, the Lynx held on for a 91-86 victory.
“We were playing hard,” said Napheesa Collier, who scored 29 points. Collier admitted it seemed like the team “lost its mind” a bit late. “But we kept playing, just flying around.”
Revenge? The last time the Wings came to Target Center, they handed the Lynx their worst-ever loss, a 40-point, one-sided beating just before the WNBA All-Star Game break in July.
On Tuesday, the Lynx left the floor breathing a sigh of relief, the Wings breathing fire.
After Wings forward Satou Sabally injured her left foot/ankle on a closeout by Bridget Carleton on a three-point attempt late, three Lynx fans were ejected during the ensuing review that upgraded the foul to a flagrant and caused Carleton’s ejection. After the game, Sabally, who got up and made the free throws before leaving the court, ripped the home crowd for reveling in her pain.
“Disgusting fan base in Minny,” Sabally posted on X after the game about the posted home crowd of 6,921. “The Schadenfreude to see someone get hurt can’t be a WNBA culture. Terrible words from the sidelines all game long.”
Thursday’s rematch between the teams in Dallas should be interesting.
The flashpoint came with 25.4 seconds left and Minnesota up six. Collier messed up on a play, and Carleton, trying to cover, was called for her second flagrant foul and ejected.
Sabally’s free throws made it a three-point game. On the ensuing possession, Dallas’ Veronica Burton was fouled and made one of two free throws with 25 seconds left. Her second attempt missed and went out of bounds. Officials originally awarded the ball to Dallas, only to reverse the call upon review.
Then, in order:
* Collier made two free throws with 22.76 seconds left for a four-point lead;
* Arike Ogunbowale hit a three-pointer for Dallas less than three seconds later;
* Kayla McBride made two free throws with 18.8 seconds left;
* Collier rebounded Ogunbowale’s ensuing miss.
Afterward? Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve apologized on behalf of the Lynx to both Sabally and Dallas coach Latricia Trammell.
“Obviously, there is no place for that,” Reeve said. “I was disappointed. Our fans are passionate. You just can’t cross the line of celebrating someone’s injury.”
Added Collier: “It gets competitive and tensions are running high on the court, but we never want to see someone getting hurt. Celebrating that is super inappropriate and is not something that represents who we are as Lynx.”
The Lynx (16-17) ended the Wings’ three-game winning streak and improved to 5-0 when both Collier and McBride (21) score 20 points. Minnesota made up for being outscored 20-10 on second-chance points by building a 25-6 edge in bench scoring. Carleton (14) led the way.
All five starters scored in double figures for Dallas (18-15), led by Sabally (22) and Ogunbowale (20).
The victory moved the Lynx into a tie with fifth-place Atlanta, with the Dream holding the tiebreaker, and within two games of fourth-place Dallas.
“This game, our offense saved us,” Reeve said. “It was kind of a messy finish, but I like to win the game and then talk about what we have to improve on.”
Reeve joked that Collier should pay whatever fine Carleton is assessed.
Collier had seven rebounds and three assists to go with 29 points. McBride had six rebounds and five assists.
“We knew we had to come in today with a different energy than we did in the last game,” Collier said. “We did a good job of making a statement with that.”