The itinerary read like this: four games in six days, three games in the last four and a back-to-back to cap an all-home stretch for the Liberty.
They were trying to complete the four-game sweep Friday night at Barclays Center against a Minnesota team that was missing its best player.
The Liberty were missing a starter of their own, but the Lynx were the fresher group in the visitors’ 88-83 win.
The Liberty trailed by 17 in the third quarter and by 15 with 7:47 left. Then they found enough energy to stage a furious comeback and trailed by one with 2:57 to go.
Unlike Tuesday night, when they rallied from 18 down in the third quarter to beat Seattle, the Liberty couldn’t finish the job.
Kayla McBride scored 26 points and Diamond Miller added 22 for Minnesota, ending the Liberty’s winning streak at four games.
“It’s tough, back-to-back,” coach Sandy Brondello said after the Liberty fell to 18-6. “I will admit that. Fatigue set in. But credit to the players. They did fight back.”
Sabrina Ionescu (31 points) shot 10-for-21 from the field and made 7 of 14 three-point attempts. Breanna Stewart added 23 points but shot just 5-for-19. The Liberty shot 36.1% from the floor and made only 28.6% of their three-pointers.
“Your legs aren’t there,” Brondello added, regarding the fatigue factor.
The Liberty also chose to rest 34-year-old point guard Courtney Vandersloot.
“Losing Courtney, it was tough because she’s the general,” Brondello said.
The Lynx (12-13) were minus Napheesa Collier, who sprained her right ankle in Wednesday night’s win over Washington. Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said the All-Star forward could be out seven to 10 days and that she’s “having an MVP season.”
McBride hit a three-pointer to give the Lynx a 77-62 lead in the fourth quarter, but the Liberty had an answer.
After Ionescu sank a pair of three-pointers to cut the lead to three, Stewart made two free throws to get within 77-76. But then Miller nailed a three, the Liberty’s Betnijah Laney missed a three and McBride made a layup for an 82-76 advantage with 2:07 remaining.
It was 84-77 with 45.4 seconds left after two free throws by Miller. The Liberty got it down to 84-80, but Lindsay Allen made two from the line at the 23.8 mark.
Kayla Thornton, who scored the only five bench points for the Liberty, converted a three-point play to slice it to 86-83 with 4.7 on the clock. Then Miller countered with two free throws with 3.4 seconds left for the final margin.
“I think we were getting stops, able to find people in transition,” Stewart said of the comeback.
That comeback attempt became necessary after the Liberty fell behind 48-39 at halftime and went down 66-49 with 4:31 left in the third.
“They did whatever they wanted to do offensively and defensively,” Ionescu said. “ [Friday] was another example of if we don’t come from the start and bring our ‘A’ game, we’re going to get beat.”