By Chris Pennant (@kwandarykitten)
James Wade was succinct in his evaluation of the Chicago Sky’s loss to the Minnesota Lynx Wednesday night:
“I messed up.”
Odyssey Sims hit a tough floater in the lane to give the Lynx a 73-72 lead with 6.4 seconds left and that would stand as the final score after Allie Quigley missed a three-pointer at the buzzer to send the lively home crowd at Wintrust Arena home in a less-than-lively fashion.
With Wednesday’s loss, the Sky (7-8) have lost five of their last six games and three of their last five at home.
“It’s a play that we did a few weeks ago, but I didn’t get them organized because the lineup was a little funkier than I thought it would be,” the Sky’s first-year coach said about the final possessions. “We had Gabby [Williams] at the 4, and normally I have Gabby in at the guard, so it was a quick decision.”
“I wish I could take it back,” Wade added, “But I can’t.”
Quigley made six three-pointers on the way to a season-high 24 points. Gabby Williams added 12 points, four rebounds and five assists in her most productive game in a month, and Diamond DeShields scored 13. However, the Sky didn’t score after Quigley’s three with 2:14 remaining.
Hear Chris talk to Daily Herald Sky reporter and announcer Patricia Babcock (anchor.fm)
Aside from the loss, Wade was happy with his team’s defense, particularly against Sims and Sylvia Fowles. The coach pointed out both players’ poor shooting (8 of 23 for Sims, 4 of 9 for Fowles) and the fact that Sims had no free throw attempts (she averages four per game). Wade also dismissed the notion that they are deficient at scoring inside.
“We’re a jump-shooting team, I’m not lost on that. I want us to attack more,” he said. “They scored eight more points in the paint than us, but that’s not the reason we lost the game.”
The Sky had to climb out of an early hole after a dismal first quarter. Minnesota forced eight turnovers and led 16-5 before the Sky closed to within six at the end of the period. Chicago only had five turnovers the rest of the game.
“We showed a lot of heart coming back, but it’s really frustrating,” Quigley said. “If we play better, if we start better, then it’s not going to be that kind of result.”
Wade agreed, saying they had trouble with the Lynx’s physical defensive play at the outset of the game and came out “a step slow.”
“A physical team that’s going to beat you up and grab you and deny passes, we slow down to a pace that we can’t slow down to, because they put pressure on us,” he said. “They’re [his players] willing, they’re bought in. We just have to find a way to get them ready at the beginning.”
The Sky finish their short home-stand tonight against the New York Liberty. Chicago beat New York 91-83 in Westchester, NY on June 19. Game time is 7 pm CT.
Beast of the Week: Kahleah Copper has been a key contributor over the past two weeks. In the first 10 games of the season, Copper averaged about 14 minutes per game. In the last five, she’s played at least 19 minutes all but once and scored in double digits three times.
Copper tallied three assists and two blocks to go along with nine points in the loss to Minnesota. One of those blocks denied a sure Napheesa Collier layup at point-blank range after Copper had been beaten on a dive cut, which shows just how athletic she is. Wade has been using Copper more at the end of games for her driving ability and defensive tenacity, but it hasn’t added up to wins, so it’s unsure what her playing time will be moving forward.
One Last Thing: Coach Wade immediately took to a young fan who sat in on the post-game presser for a school project as he sat down, asking her what position she played. When she replied that she was a point guard, he asked, without missing a beat, “Do you take care of the ball? That’s what you need to do.”….The Sky were at full strength for the first time this season, as Jamierra Faulkner (knee) and Katie Lou Samuelson (wrist) were both available against the Lynx. Wade said he wanted to get Faulkner in the game in the first half but was unable to do so.
Until next time, keep your head above the clouds.
Chris Pennant covers professional basketball for WARR Media