Dantas, McBride are finding their way for Lynx

·3 min read

As she often does, Lynx center Sylvia Fowles towered over her teammates in Wednesday's come-from-behind victory in Atlanta, using her 6-6 height, wingspan and footwork to total 26 points with 19 boards and five blocks.

She was, as coach Cheryl Reeve said, the embodiment of everything you could want her to do.

But Fowles didn't do everything. The Lynx, down 18 midway through the second quarter, wouldn't have pulled off its biggest comeback in six years without the play of Kayla McBride and Damiris Dantas.

McBride — who will be facing off against her old team, the Las Vegas Aces, for the first time Friday — scored only nine points. But seven of them came in the team's 17-6 finish to the game. That included running the floor for an easy layup with 1:50 left that put the Lynx up two. Then, moments later, hitting a 19-footer that put the Lynx up for good.

And then there was Dantas. One of the team's biggest three-point threats last season, Dantas had struggled this year. A .433 shooter from three in the WNBA bubble in 2020, she entered Wednesday's game having made 13 of 45 threes.

Dantas went 0-for-3 from deep in the first quarter, which Atlanta ended on a 20-3 run. Then, as Reeve said, Dantas "had her breakthrough."

Starting with the second quarter, Dantas hit on six of eight threes. In the second half she was 4-for-4. In the fourth quarter she hit a three with five minutes left to pull the Lynx within one. Then, 72 seconds later, her three tied the game at 81, paving the way for McBride and the Lynx to finish.

"It felt good," Dantas said. "I work on my threes every day. I know my first [few games were] not good. But I still worked, and Coach tells me to keep shooting. Today was a good game."

So, has Dantas begun a return to her 2020 form, when she made nearly two threes per game? Reeve pushed back on that.

"The 2020 season is over with," she said. "It has nothing to do with what we're doing now. DD had a career year for us last year. It's very hard to duplicate that."

But the team needs players such as Dantas, and Bridget Carleton — who made 45.7 percent of her threes last year — to contribute for the Lynx (6-7) to push back over .500.

Reeve knows that. That's why she had Dantas' shooting stroke videotaped during shootaround Wednesday so it could be analyzed. But her bottom line has always been to encourage Dantas to take the open three.

Dantas' 23 points Wednesday is tied for the second-most she has scored in a regular-season game. Her consistency last year — she averaged 12.9 points — was a big reason the Lynx overachieved, advancing to the league semifinals.

To get her close to that is important. The same goes for Carleton, who has yet to find her three-point range, shooting 26.9 percent. Even Napheesa Collier has struggled on three-pointers compared to last year. On a team with a dominant center in Fowles, open threes are available. Now it's a matter of hitting them.

"This needs to happen," Reeve said. "And it will happen. For Carleton, too."

Perhaps Dantas gained some confidence Wednesday.

"I feel so good," Dantas said after the Atlanta game. "I'm so happy. I need to continue to work for the next game."

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