Lynx bank on Fowles’ return for Atlanta game

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Lynx center Sylvia Fowles should be back in the lineup when the Lynx play at Atlanta Thursday night against a Dream team that is currently in eighth place in the WNBA, the final playoff position, 2½ games ahead of the 11th-place Lynx.

Fowles has been battling cartilage problems in a knee and plantar fasciitis in a foot for some time. She missed the team's loss Sunday to Connecticut.

But Fowles practiced Tuesday, the team's only real full practice session so far this week, as the team had Monday off and traveled Wednesday. Both Fowles and Jessica Shepard (nose injury) are listed as probable on the team's status report for Thursday's game.

"She probably practiced longer than she should have today,'' said coach Cheryl Reeve after Tuesday's practice.

Fowles missed Sunday's game because of an injection she got in her knee, one that prevented her from working out or playing for a certain period of time. It was always the plan for her to return to action Thursday against the Dream.

Being 2½ games out of a playoff spot with seven games to play is a difficult position to be in, especially considering that all but one of those games comes against teams now in playoff position. But two of the Lynx's next four games are against Atlanta.

After Thursday's game, they play Sunday at sixth-place Los Angeles, against a Sparks team experiencing some turmoil with center Liz Cambage having left the team. Then the Lynx complete a three-game road trip at fourth-place Seattle next Wednesday.

Considering Damiris Dantas is still away from the team dealing with a personal issue makes Fowles' return more important.

Take the shot

Reeve said one emphasis of practice Tuesday was convincing the players to stop turning down open shots, particularly from three-point range.

The number of three-point attempts by the Lynx has dwindled of late. During a stretch in which the team won seven of 10 games, the Lynx averaged 22.3 three-point attempts and made an average of 8.5, shooting better than 38 percent.

In their past three games, all losses, the Lynx have attempted just 16.3 threes and made 5.0, shooting just 30.7 percent.

"We feel like we're turning down shots, especially from the three-point line,'' Reeve said. "And we want to get those numbers back up. There has been a slow decline.''

Etc.In nine July games, only Aerial Powers (153) has scored more points for the Lynx than reserve guard Rachel Banham (123). In those nine games Banham, has averaged 13.7 points and 2.9 assists per game. She has shot 51.2 percent overall and is 26-for-53 (49.1 percent) on three-pointers. She is tied for third in the league in made three-pointers in that time.