Minnesota (17-6), once seen as a virtual lock for another top seed in the Western Conference, lost to Tulsa (8-17) for the first time in 15 games. The Shock's last win against the Lynx came in 2010, two years before Gary Kloppenburg was hired as head coach.
Perhaps more surprising for the Shock was defeating the league's top team without the services of Riquna Williams or Glory Johnson, both out with injuries.
"We did a really good job getting it inside tonight to (Elizabeth) Cambage. We shot the ball pretty well from the perimeter, and we got to the free throw line," Kloppenburg said.
Cambage had 27 points and eight rebounds to lead Tulsa, who hit 50 percent of their shots for the game. Minnesota got Janel McCarville back from a concussion last week, but Rebekkah Brunson sat out with a sore right knee, leading to the same problem from the last two games. With Minnesota having to go smaller, Tulsa was able to balance inside and perimeter scoring, more than enough to keep a reasonable distance ahead of a team that tends to shoot a lot of jumpers.
"If I got doubled, we were hitting the outside. They left it open, I could go to work," Cambage said. "It was just a good team game."
The Lynx attempted a late rally, but could only get within three points of the Shock's lead in the fourth quarter.
Six Shock players reached double-digits in scoring. Other highlights included Angel Goodrich, who earned 11 points and eight assists.
"I owe it to my teammates. They got me where I was open," she said. "We executed really well, just staying spaced out."
Seimone Augustus led Minnesota with a season-high 29 points and crossed the 4,000-point mark in her career, but faded in the fourth quarter. Stalwarts like Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen struggled throughout. Moore had 14 points, making only 5 of 14 shots. Whalen had 13 points, hitting only 3 of 12 attempts.
Tulsa sits three games out of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference with nine games to go. Virtually every game is a must-win situation, but they expressed confidence after getting a signature win.
"This can give us a real boost. We feel like we could make a run," Kloppenburg said.
On the other end, Minnesota's first three-game losing streak in two years eliminated their three-game advantage over Los Angeles for the top spot in the West. The Lynx still hold the lead by percentage points, having played two fewer games than the Sparks. Injuries are a factor, but there is speculation that Minnesota's back-ups did not receive proper development when they could have in their runaway victories.
Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve had little to say beyond the generic crop of quotes, but others sense the team has allowed complacency to form after another dominating start to the year.
"We're all professionals. We all know what we need to do to correct things. There's a sense of urgency for everybody. It's a matter of getting our legs back under us," Augustus said.