Lynx center Damiris Dantas found her shot at just the right time

·3 min read

Jun. 25—As much as Sylvia Fowles was the headliner from the Lynx's come-from-behind victory over the Dream on Wednesday in Atlanta, it was actually her running mate who carried more of the offensive load in the second half.

Damiris Dantas splashed all four of her 3-point attempts over the final 20 minutes en route to a 14-point second half.

"Obviously, DD had a breakthrough for us in the second half," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. "Told her to keep shooting, and she did that for us."

That's been the constant message from Reeve and Co. to the 6-foot-4 center from Brazil — keep firing. A confident Dantas is always the best Dantas. But confidence can be tested during periods of play when shots aren't falling.

And Dantas' shots hadn't been falling through 11 games for the Lynx (6-7). She hadn't hit more than three shots in any game, shooting just 35 percent from the field and 29 percent from deep. But Dantas maintained a belief in her shot. Part of that comes from the work she puts into it, and part of it comes from Reeve's fervent belief in her.

"I work on my three every day. I know the first games, it's not good, but I still work," Dantas said. "And Coach always says, 'Does not matter what happens, continue to shoot.' "

Her performance Wednesday closely resembled what Dantas achieved during the 2020 season in the WNBA bubble. Over the final 11 games last season, Dantas averaged 18 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and one steal. She shot 51 percent from the field and a staggering 59 percent from deep on 5.7 3-point attempts per game.

But don't talk about 2020 to Reeve. She's not overly interested in it. That's a part of the past.

"It has nothing to do with what we're doing now," the Lynx coach said. "I think the hard part is there has been an expectation created. DD had a career year for us (in 2020). It's very hard to duplicate it."

Particularly when coming off a strange offseason. Dantas wasn't able to simply pick up in training camp where she left off last season physically. The same is true for so many players. Napheesa Collier isn't shooting as well, and neither is Bridget Carleton.

"I told them to stop talking about last year. This is about this year, and focus on making the next shot," Reeve said. "I don't care what their percentage is. I know they can shoot. And we just have to work through it."

In Dantas' case, the Lynx coaches taped her shooting Wednesday morning. They showed her what it looked like and what they wanted her to work in. Is that what caused Wednesday night's shooting successes?

"I'm going to go back and look at the threes and see if she was able to get it done," Reeve said. "I don't care how it got there, but she was making threes. And she just had great confidence and she knew that her team needed her to shoot it. It was big."

Reeve noted Wednesday's performance doesn't mean Dantas is going to enter full flamethrower mode for the rest of the season.

"That was tonight," Reeve said after the game Wednesday. "And if you get the same opportunities in your next game against Vegas, we'll see. But I think I'd like to caution us from doing that, because we're still working through so much. But this needed to happen."

Because it reaffirmed Dantas' belief in herself and her shot. Perhaps one of the Lynx's key cogs is back on the right track.

"I think I needed to play good," Dantas said. "I'm so good and so happy, and will continue to work for next game."

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