Your Home Your story reservation Lynx vs. Storm Final Score: Alanna Smith’s Career-High 22 points leads Minnesota to victory

Lynx vs. Storm Final Score: Alanna Smith’s Career-High 22 points leads Minnesota to victory


The Minnesota lynx began their 26th season on the road against a reload Seattle storm team. If this sounds familiar, it’s because just two years ago the Storm played their very first game at Climate Pledge Arena in the season opener*. That was the season that both Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles retired from the WNBA.

A lot has changed in two years. Both world-class organizations have had to reshape their rosters in different ways. Seattle refueled in vain for Caitlin Clark in their first season without Breanna Stewart and finished with the second-worst record in the league. This offseason, they cleared space to arm Jewell Loyd with a pair of 33-year-old vets in Skyler Diggins-Smith and Nneka Ogwumike. That star trio combines for 19 All-Star and 15 All-WNBA team selections.

Meanwhile, Lynx Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations Cheryl Reeve opted to build continuity with a young core and move forward with incremental progress. She surrounded MVP candidate Napheesa Collier with a pair of promising rookies in Diamond Miller and Dorka Juhász, as well as returning key players in Jessica Shepard and Bridget Carleton. Despite their second straight season under .500, Minnesota still made the playoffs and gave the No. 3 seed Connecticut Sun a run for their money in the first round.

Who would start their quest to become the first five-championship franchise with a W?

* The 2022 season opener in Seattle was the same game as that this life event happened for me.

Minnesota Lynx vs. Seattle Storm

Photo by Scott Eklund/NBAE via Getty Images

The start Alanna’s night

From the opening whistle, it looked like it would be a long night for the visiting Lynx. Seeing the lack of rim protection, Seattle head coach Noelle Quinn called for paint attack after paint attack early. This produced results: three Minnesota personal fouls in the first two minutes, while some easy paint points were scored (14 in the quarter). Poor ball control allowed any Seattle player to waltz into the court, which was ultimately possible Jewell Lloyd (10 points, 10 rebounds; 3/19 FG) get into a comfortable rhythm.

Despite the disappointing efforts on that end of the court, the Lynx were able to stay in the game by hitting four of seven three-point attempts in the first quarter. Bridget Carleton hit her only triple, leading to a pair of back-to-back trey balls Alanna Smith (22 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 shares).

This foreshadowed what was to come from the newly acquired Smith. The perimeter attacks closed out her 10-point quarter to lead Minnesota. After only 41 seconds left in the period, she played 26 of the remaining 30 minutes of the match. Despite the heavy workload, she was effective in the short role play and defended admirably Nneka Ogwumike (20 points, 9 rebounds) And Ezi Magbegor (15 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks) low.

The middle Hanging in the balance

The Storm also repeatedly took advantage of Minnesota’s lack of cohesion on the offensive end, capitalizing on six turnovers in the second quarter. There were three failed passes for rookie Alissa Pili in the first half alone, giving Seattle a 34-26 lead. Reeve had seen enough and immediately joined in Napheesa Collier (20 points, 12 rebounds, 3 shares) back in the game, which could finally help lock down the interior. Defense led to offense, as Minnesota responded with a 7-2 run to keep things from getting out of hand.

Ogwumike and Magbegor combined to score 12 points in the second quarter, but a final 7-0 run by the Lynx helped steal a 45-44 lead heading into intermission. It became a back-and-forth affair as both teams returned to the field in the second half. Courtney Williams (14 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals) continued to play winning basketball with her all-around skills. Collier and Ogwumike dueled on the post. Both teams exchanged 8-0 points. Both teams combined for six goals in the final minute of the third quarter.

Minnesota held a slim 63-60 lead heading into the final period.

WNBA: MAY 14 Commissioner's Cup - Minnesota Lynx at Seattle Storm

Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The end Defensive clinic

Coach Reeve said about halfway through the third quarter: she had finally reached her team about the defense. Consider the Storm’s field goal percentage quarter by quarter:

  • 1st quarter — 47.6%
  • 2nd quarter — 36.4%
  • 3rd quarter — 31.6%

The pressure they put on their point of attack on Seattle paired perfectly with timely low-man rotations, depleting the newly formed ‘Super Team’. The newly signed Skyler Diggins-Smith (10 points, 6 assists; 4/13 FG) was visibly frustrated because she could not get space to operate. Loyd, who led the league in scoring last season, also went cold, scoring 1/7 in the fourth quarter along with her defensive partner. No series summed up the defensive clinic that Reeve’s Lynx put on more than this game.

Seattle shot 31.3% from the field in the fourth quarter.

The irritated look on the Storm’s faces reflected the discouraged home crowd. Kayla McBride (9 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals), who was quite calm offensively, delivered the final dagger and put the match definitively out of reach with four minutes and substitutions left in the match.

What started as a battle to stop the simplest Storm action slowly but steadily turned into the opposite towards the end. Smith poetically scored a new career-high of 22 points with 1:47 remaining, sending home a triple as her new teammates went wild off the bench.

For the first time since 2020, the Lynx opened their season with a W.

Five key takeaways

WNBA: MAY 14 Commissioner's Cup - Minnesota Lynx at Seattle Storm

Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

  1. Alanna’s dominance: What else can you say? If tonight is any indication, the 27-year-old will regularly play more than 30 minutes a night. It’s possible her workload was higher than normal due to Seattle’s size in the frontcourt, but make no mistake: Smith is going to blossom this season.
  2. Don’t forget Phee: After the match, Reeve said she thought Collier was pretty good. While most headlines will focus on Smith’s excellent performance, Phee remained the lynchpin at both ends of the pitch. A night of 20 and 12 is routine for this special talent, as she tied Smith with a team high of +16 on the night.
  3. Carleton defense: BC’s box score doesn’t look particularly exciting and you won’t see her appear on many highlights, but she played excellent defense against pretty much everyone on the Storm. She will likely be much better than her 1/7 performance if she advances deep, and until then, Reeve Carleton will continue to trot for her excellent defensive contributions.
  4. Shiny new backcourt: How I got through this recap without saying more about Courtney Williams is wild. Her presence on the court shines through on both ends, whether it’s clearing defensive possessions or throwing sweet pocket passes. Likewise, Natisha Hiedeman was also brilliant tonight. The pair of former Connecticut Sun guards combined for 23 points, 7 rebounds, 13 assists and 7 steals.
  5. Who’s in the rotation?: Alissa Pili surprised one of the first players off the bench, perhaps because of Collier’s early foul trouble, but looked a little overwhelmed in her 10 minutes. Ceci Zandalasini also got nine minutes off the bench, but with mixed results. Sophomore Diamond Miller did start, but struggled to get 1/5 of the way as she continued to work her way back from offseason knee surgery. It will be interesting to see how the rotation moves forward.

Highlights of the game

Lead tracker

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Next one

The Lynx will fly back for their home opener to take it back against the Seattle storm on Friday 17/5 bee 8:30 PM CT. Minnesota fans should keep the energy going at Target Center and pack it in as the Lynx rematch their four-time championship rivals.

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