Ugly Win. Still, a Win. Still... Ugly.
NEW YORK LIBERTY 81, ATLANTA DREAM 77
Wow. What a horrible, horrible win. I can't remember the last time I felt this bad about a "W". Maybe it was the time I forgot which letter came after "V" in Kindergarten and was forced to write "Whale" and "Watch" and such over and over again. But that is beside the point. The point is, the Liberty should NOT be happy with themselves regarding this game.
Yes, four of the Liberty's starters had 12+ point games (led by Janel McCarville's 25). Yes, the Libs managed to score 32 points in the 4th quarter, while overcoming a deficit that they put themselves into in the first half (and third quarter). Yes, we managed to shoot well (over 47% in the field) and pass the ball and all that.
But the Libs did let the now 0-8 Atlanta Dream into the game in the first quarter, going down 19-16. To be fair, it WAS back and forth ball through those first ten, with two clutch free throws by Lennox at the end of the quarter to put the Dream firmly ahead. Still, the Libs didn't control the lanes, didn't control the outside, and didn't control the ball (except for the very beginning of the game, with three straight shots and three rebounds).
The 2nd and 3rd quarter proved to be little better, with the Libs pulling to within 1 point at the half and then falling back by six at the end of the 3rd. It didn't look bad at first, with Christon making 4 points (all free throws) and an assist on a Kraayeveld layup. Of course, immediately after that, both Thor and Dutch made fouls, starting the march of mediocrity. 4 Libs turnovers in one minute (8:23-7:23 of the 2nd)? 3 minutes without a quality shot? A whole quarter DOMINATED by the Dream? Things didn't look good for the MSG Faithful.
Then, somehow, the Libs realized what was going on. They saw that with 10 minutes left to play, they were down to the worst team in the league. Maybe Coyle put some fire in their gut. Maybe McCarville, Kraayeveld, Carson, and Christon decided enough was enough. Maybe Thorn finally realized that she had the ability to do more than get water for the other girls on the bench. Who knows?
In any case, the Libs came back with 32 points in the 4th. The Libs missed only 6 non-free throw shots the entire quarter, with McCarville owning the lane like she put a down-payment on it. The other ladies stepped it up as well, with clutch defense coming from Carson and Christon. The Dream didn't slack off, either: they scored 22 points (the most of any quarter that game). But it seemed like all of the sudden, Atlanta just gave up. And the Liberyt were smart enough to take advantage.
It should have been Atlanta's game. The Dream edged the Libs in free throws, shot percentage, and work outside the arc. Their defense was superior. They passed strongly, as well. But in the end, it wasn't enough. Basketball is a 4 quarter game. If you'll permit me a golf metaphor, you can make three ugly shots and one beautiful shot and still make par. That's the game in a nutshell; the Libs got it done and are now a half game above Chicago for 4th place in the East.
Don't get too cozy, now.
- Thorn. For the first time in what seems like forever, Thorn made 10 points. Still, she shot only 2-11 from the 3. She has a lot of work to do.
- Rebounds. New York, led by 8 from Christon, dominated under the basket play. This was the major contribution that allowed New York to win... aside from removing the kryptonite from around their necks in the 4th.
- Refereeing. Suspect. That's all that needs to be said.
- Starters. All except Mitchell played well. Christon had the most complete game, with 14 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and going 9-10 from the line, but McCarville's numbers can't be ignored either.
- Kraayeveld. Tolerably decent on D for the first time this season. Maybe this is a sign of things to come.
The World's Most Famous Arena (besides the Coliseum)
The Lynx aren't going to put up with the Liberty's bullshit. They're more cougars than lynces. Be prepared.
San Antonio 64, Indiana 53
Seattle 83, Phoenix 77
Los Angeles 80, Detroit 73
I'm surprised that Washington was able to keep the game so close. Props to the Mystics, but more so to the Monarchs for not capitulating when the game wasn't going their way. Strong work from the usually quiet Monarch Offense made up for their increasingly-gaping holes on defense. Boucek better work quick on getting something going.
The Stars-Fever tilt proved to be a low-scoring game, of which type San Antonio is growing in its mastery. The Fever at times seemed to be playing a completely different game than the Stars, what with the infrequent but ill-timed fouls that prevented any momentum from occuring. Meanwhile, Sophia Young made up for the seemingly-absent Becky Hammon (2 pts, 1-7) by scoring 17 and leading the Stars to a decent, if not overwhelming victory. Limiting your opponent to 20 points in 20 minutes is a good way to win a game, huh?
Despite what the official site says, the Storm held on to their 2nd place standing in the West with their victory over Phoenix. Diana Taurasi did her best - 37 points and a hell of a defensive game - but the Storm pulled a 2007 Liberty game by playing essentially no one but their starters, while the leading four scored more than 11 each. Lauren Jackson led her teammates with 20 points, but the really astonishing reason for the victory was the rebounds; the Storm had 64(!) of them to the Mercs' 36.
Los Angeles is proving me right and wrong. Sure, Parker is playing good but not god-like basketball (I called it). But the other Sparks are picking up where their supposed deity of a teammate is leaving off (something I didn't think would happen). All five starters went into double-digits while pushing Detroit just a little further back in the standings. Good for us, bad for the Shock, especially when Katie Smith (16 pts., 7 rebounds, 6-14) is pulling out all the stops to try and lift her teammates out of their slumber.
Keep snoozin', Shock. Please.
Sacramento is traveling out to the depths of Minneapolis to face off against the 6-2 Lynx, and it's not going to be a good show for them. Sure, just last night the Monarchs were able to take down the Mystics in a game not to their suiting. But that was a close game against a team that is now hovering on the edge of forever. This is the Lynx, who are eager to improve their record and resecure their spot atop the Western Conference. If I were Coach Boucek, I'd hand out helmets before her lassies went out onto the court. Lynx by 9.
A writer in Minnesota laments the poor attendance of the WNBA. Can't say that I blame him, although I don't agree with some of his conclusions. Interesting read, at least.
Bill Laimbeer and Michael Cooper are still rivals, apparently. I don't really care. Maybe YOU do.
See ya, Space Cowboy...