- Mechelle Voepel, espnW.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve is from Philadelphia, and of course she's an Eagles fan. Even more specifically, she admires their longtime coach.
"I'm a huge, huge Andy Reid person," Reeve said before Game 2 of the WNBA Finals. "When I look at other coaches, I look at temperament, where they are in their career, how they got there, and their ability to handle players. That's probably the thing I look at most."
Reeve likes the straightforward, no-nonsense way that Reid deals with things although she's never one to give you the bland monotone like he does. She has a very analytical mind, but she knows how to use emotion in coaching, too.
And if that also means tossing a garment every now and again, so be it.
Wednesday night at Target Center, Reeve helped get the Lynx fired up, and they beat Indiana 83-71 to even the series 1-1.
Minnesota's Seimone Augustus and Indiana's Tamika Catchings -- Olympians who were announced as members of the All-WNBA first team earlier in the day -- both had 27 points.
But that was the only area in which the squads were even. Minnesota had a 32-20 advantage on the boards, and 24 second-chance points to Indiana's three. The Lynx forced the Fever into 22 turnovers -- as opposed to just nine giveaways by Indiana in its 76-70 victory in Game 1.
The Lynx even had the more spectacular technical foul on their coach. Indiana's Lin Dunn picked up hers in the fourth quarter of a game she thought was rough enough to be called "basket-football."
But Dunn's "T" was small beans compared to the sideline show Reeve had in the third quarter. It involved Reeve yanking off her jacket, tossing the garment (nice catch by Lynx assistant Shelley Patterson), ripping off her TV microphone, and finally calming down because there were two people big enough to, um, "box her out" and keep her from any more trouble.
One of them was the other Lynx assistant, Jim Petersen, a former Golden Gopher and NBA player who spent years battling fellow big guys in the paint. Then Lynx veteran Taj McWilliams-Franklin -- who is just four years younger than Reeve -- came over to help defuse the situation, too.
The crowd of 13,478 absolutely loved it, of course, and got even more revved up. Reeve was reacting to a technical foul that had been called on Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen, who is known far more for her poker face than any displays of passion. But Whalen, who finished with 14 points, acknowledged she might have been a tad too demonstrative in the officials' eyes. She appreciated that Reeve had her back.
"She's so intense and brings so much energy," Whalen said of Reeve. "We want to fight so hard for each other and for her. She's done a lot for all of us. It gets you going and fires you up."
The Lynx needed that after a WNBA Finals opener in which they seemed too passive at times. That wasn't an issue Wednesday.
However, Minnesota still didn't start this game well, scoring just 11 points in the first quarter. The Lynx were still trailing at halftime, 33-31. But you got a sense the tide was turning toward Minnesota as the teams went into the break.
The Fever, who were already without starter Katie Douglas (ankle), lost another guard in reserve Jeanette Pohlen during the first half. She had played very well in the minutes she'd received since Douglas' injury in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals on Oct. 11.
But what especially sunk the Fever was how Augustus and Maya Moore came alive offensively in the second half. Augustus was a sharp dagger in the Fever's side, scoring 23 of her 27 points after halftime.
"I've had the opportunity to play with her over in Turkey and with the Olympic team," Catchings said. "So I've seen firsthand the danger that she poses [for] whoever she's playing against."
Moore was also a handful that the Fever couldn't handle, getting 23 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds. Asked if seeing Petersen keeping Reeve from losing her cool any further reminded her of UConn assistant Chris Dailey doing that duty with Geno Auriemma, the former Huskies star Moore broke into a grin.
"Anytime we see coach Reeve defend us of course it's going to amp us up," Moore said. "We want to go out and show the same emotion, the same energy, the same passion for our team as well. I'm just glad we responded, and it was definitely an entertaining game."
Dunn thought it was an excessively physical game, which you have to take with a grain of salt -- because that's pretty much the Fever's favorite style. The Lynx just gave it back to Indiana on Wednesday, undoubtedly spurred by a couple of days since Game 1 to stew over what they'd done wrong in their loss.
That included allowing Indiana's Erlana Larkins to get 16 points and 15 rebounds on Sunday. In Game 2, she was limited to three points and five boards. Overall, it was just a more dominant performance by the Lynx in every aspect.
As for the physicality of the game, McWilliams-Franklin comically shrugged it off.
"It's a tough sport. I think the WNBA is tougher than any other league beside the National Hockey League," she said, tongue in cheek. "It's like wrestling. I love WWE and UFC, and all of the skills that I know from it come in handy."
The battle continues Friday night (ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET) in Indianapolis. Will Douglas join the fray? Will there be any more technical fouls?
Reeve didn't say much about the one she got after all, it's the Finals, so the arena is crawling with WNBA front-office folks. Reeve has to be careful with her words.
"I threw my shoulder out," she joked of her sideline rant. "I need to see a trainer this evening. Clearly, I wasn't happy in the moment."
But the outcome Wednesday pleased her just fine.
19dBonnie D. Ford