Lynx lose Powers, Achonwa to injuries

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The Lynx walked out of Target Center on Saturday having won for the fourth time in five games after a victory over Los Angeles.

But it came at a price, as only eight players walked out of the arena healthy.

Guard Aerial Powers tore the ulnar collateral ligament in her right (shooting thumb) during the game. She will have surgery later this week. Early in the second quarter backup center Natalie Achonwa sustained a sprain of the medial collateral ligament in her right knee. Surgery will not be required.

This comes on top of the fact rookie Rennia Davis (stress fracture in her foot) had already been ruled out for the season and backup forward Jessica Shepard is battling a sore adductor muscle.

Both Achonwa and Powers will be out, according to Lynx coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve, for weeks. There is a chance they could both return in a rather unique season that includes a monthlong midsummer break for the Olympics. But:

"We're looking at multiple-week situations for both,'' Reeve said.

Until then?

"It's really easy,'' Reeve said, sarcastically, when asked what her message to the players was. "One, nobody is going to feel sorry for the Minnesota Lynx. Two, win anyway.''

That job begins Tuesday night at Target Center against Chicago in a national-televised game on ESPN2. The Sky, 1-7 with Candace Parker out because of an injury ankle, is 3-0 with her, including a two-game winning streak Chicago takes into the game.

The Lynx, who will get further roster exemption relief from the league, will likely add a post player before tipoff Tuesday night. Reeve would like to add two players, but she is limited in what she can do by the league's hard $1.339 Million salary cap.

"This is where it gets interesting,'' said Reeve, who has already signed guard Layshia Clarendon with previous roster exemptions. "We have a hard cap, and roster replacement players go toward the cap. We didn't have a lot of space as it was. So we've got some challenges we're trying to navigate. How many hardship players to use, what we can get through. It would be ideal to have more players, to have bigger roster sizes like the NBA has.''

Addressing depth in the post is key, with both Achonwa and Shepard out and Reeve not wanting to burn veteran Sylvia Fowles out. The team will likely add a player. But Reeve will also have to consider using Damiris Dantas in the post more often, which would mean Napheesa Collier — who is already playing a lot of power forward — playing that position even more.

"You have to push through it,'' Collier said. "It's really tough for them. And we're down two more people. But you can't dwell on it, feel sorry for yourself. You have to keep going on, hold it down until they can come back.''

The starters, obviously, will have to do more. But so will a Lynx bench coming off Saturday's game, in which Lynx reserves outscored the Sparks bench 41-2 led by Crystal Dangerfield (16 points) and Rachel Banham (12).

On a couple occasions this year the Lynx have spread the floor, putting four players around the perimeter with Fowles in the middle. That could be a scheme fans see more of. After opening the season shooting 23.5 % on three-pointers in their 0-4 start to the season (19-for-81), the Lynx have heated up, going 46-for-115 (40 %) while going 4-1 since.

"Everybody knows they have to do a little more,'' Kayla McBride said. "It's next man up mentality. Obviously, we don't want to see our players go down. There has been some adversity. But it's just being tough, staying connected.''

Powers, who has already missed five games with a hamstring injury, is averaging 10.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists in four games. In eight games Achonwa has averages of 3.8 points and 2.1 rebounds in 11.3 minutes of play.

•The Lynx are expected to sign 27-year-old forward Cierra Burdick and have her available for Tuesday's game.

The 6-2 Burdick, a second-round pick by Los Angeles out of Tennessee in the 2015 draft, has played 46 games, with four starts, for four franchises in her WNBA career. Most recently she appeared in four games for Phoenix last season. She has career averages of 2.0 points and 1.8 rebounds in 8.0 minutes.