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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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Kayla McBride and Jessica Shepard each scored 15 points for Minnesota, which also got 12 from Sylvia Fowles, 11 from Moriah Jefferson and 10 points from Natalie Achonwa.
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Minnesota's 32-16 advantage in points off the bench proved key in countering Skylar Diggins-Smith's game-high 25 points
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Leading 93-91 with 16 seconds to play, forward Dearica Hamby knocked down a corner 3-pointer for the Aces (13-2) to stave off a pesky effort from Minnesota (3-13)
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Minnesota (3-12) gave itself a chance to snap its three-game losing skid with stifling defense down the stretch, holding Seattle to just five points for the final 5:07 of action
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The Lynx (3-9) had beaten the Liberty 84-78 on May 24 at Target Center and 84-77 this past Sunday in Brooklyn despite 31 points from Ionescu.
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Minnesota (2-7) had a chance to force overtime, but Kayla McBride couldn't connect on a pullup jumper from the left wing in the last three seconds
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New York wasn't able to hang on to a 71-63 lead in the final eight minutes, enduring a four-minute scoring drought that helped launch Minnesota's comeback
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All five Lynx starters scored in double figures, led by 14 points each from Jessica Shepard, Sylvia Fowles and Kayla McBride. Aerial Powers and Moriah Jefferson added 12 each for Minnesota.
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McBride won a Turkish League title overseas over the weekend, and flew straight from Europe to Los Angeles on Monday to meet up with the Lynx in time for their contest Tuesday against the Sparks. She finished with 24 points.
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Lynx finally get first win behind game-high 24 points from McBride

“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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