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Cheryl Reeve knows Lynx are last in WNBA standings because they’re last in defense

That was the primary focus of Monday’s practice — a needed day of work to shore up what Reeve identified as slippage on the defensive end

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It’s not hard for Minnesota Lynx coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve to identify why exactly her team is currently at the bottom of the WNBA standings heading into Tuesday’s home tilt with New York.

Minnesota is last in the WNBA in defensive efficiency, allowing 108.7 points per 100 possessions.

“They go hand in hand,” Reeve said of that number and the team’s 1-6 record.

So often, the culprit for Minnesota is one particularly bad quarter. In its loss Saturday to Dallas, it was the third quarter. In those 10 minutes, the Wings sported an offensive rating of 200 — meaning they averaged two points per every trip down the floor. That’s about as bad as you can be defensively.

Similar quarter-long meltdowns have occurred in losses to Las Vegas, Indiana and Seattle.

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“It’s historically bad,” Reeve said. “This is not like once in seven games this happened. The number of times we’ve given up that level of, just fall apart … that’s what we’re working on. That’s what we’re hoping to do better with.”

That was the primary focus of Monday’s practice — a needed day of work to shore up what Reeve identified as slippage on the defensive end over the team’s recent road trip that featured only travel days between games.

But what’s concerning to Reeve is the primary struggles have come in effort departments. It’s rebounding and transition defense. Minnesota isn’t good at either. So often those categories are determined by will. That’s why the coach has questioned whether her team has enough of that.

MORE MINNESOTA LYNX COVERAGE:
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The Lynx now sit in 11th place in the 12-team league, 1½ games behind Atlanta, New York and Phoenix who are tied for seventh. Minnesota has four games left, three against teams that would currently be in the playoffs.
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The Lynx (11-19) are now 1 1/2 games behind the Dream but the Phoenix Mercury (12-16 entering Thursday) and New York Liberty (12-17) are also in contention.
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Minnesota shot 42.9 percent from the floor and were 6 of 13 from behind the arc
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Five players scored in double figures for Minnesota (10-18), led by Aerial Powers with 14 points.
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For the game, the Lynx committed 16 turnovers and shot 33% from the field while tallying a season-low 57 points — led by 16 from Kayla McBride, who felt the Lynx got good shots that simply weren’t going down.
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Playing their third game in four nights, the Lynx (10-16) moved within a game of Phoenix for the WNBA's final playoff spot with 10 games left.
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Rachel Banham scored 24 points and Sylvia Fowles recorded 20 points and 17 rebounds for Minnesota (9-16), which had a three-game winning streak halted.
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It was the third win in a row for the Lynx (9-15).
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Minnesota has won five of seven and, in addition to beating the Sky, the Lynx crushed Las Vegas 102-71 on Sunday. Each foe had the WNBA’s best record entering the game.
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The Lynx (7-15) shot 50 percent from the field and tied a season high with a dozen 3-pointers.

“And that’s what we’re trying to find out. That’s what we said, ‘Hey, if you don’t have it, it’s really going to show itself, and you’re probably not going to have a job,'” Reeve said. “People lose jobs when you don’t do your job. That’s just how it works. I don’t want to be in that situation. I want this team to understand. … We’re not understanding the impact of our lack of passion for what we’re doing. We’re so pedestrian in so many elements of what we do. We’re just out there. And you can’t win like that.”

At any level.

“It’s not that you have to do extraordinary things. You do ordinary things very well, at a high level, passionately,” Reeve said. “And we lack passion a lot. And so, I always do that, where I look around individually and go, ‘OK, who is it? Who is not passionate about what they do?’ And I have a hard time finding people who aren’t passionate about what they do. They love the game. But they’re not performing passionately, with their teammates.”

The good news for Minnesota was Reeve thought the Lynx took a step in the right direction in Monday’s practice.

“It doesn’t matter, though,” Lynx guard Aerial Powers said. “We have to play and do the right things (Tuesday).”

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