Image: Julio Cortez/AP
Just the Facts, Ma’am: The Minnesota Lynx wore out the New York Liberty over the course of the game, taking a 80-62 win on the road. Seimone Augustus led all scorers with 22 points, while Taj McWilliams-Franklin notched a double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds). Cappie Pondexter led New York with 15 points; Essence Carson added 13 off the bench as the only other Liberty player in double figures.
For a lost and found in a border town, the passing of the hat, things that should have been, five chances without a basket, and a startling lack of sense from Stanford alumnae, join your intrepid and adrift blogger after the jump.
Good evening, everyone! Here we are at the Prudential Center.
It’s 44-33 at the half, and I’m pleasantly surprised. The Liberty are throwing a lot of alley-oop passes, and the ones that are working are working, and the ones that aren’t working are going out of bounds and looking exceptionally stupid. Essence Carson is playing very well. Kara Braxton, less so. The Lynx look a little sloppy, but their passing game is nice.
For some reason, security is being anal about autograph collecting. Either the league needs to make it clearer that it’s not welcome, or the Liberty need to lighten up. We want everyone, darn it!
I missed most of the pregame festivities, arriving to the arena in the middle of the anthem.
It’s strange to see Erin Thorn as the last player off the bench. She’s not actually a point guard, and it’s not good for her to be used that way. Devereaux Peters was strong on defense in her minutes, though I thought she had a block. Maybe it was just a deflection. Jessica Adair seemed to get called for fouls at every opportunity. I wasn’t happy with some of her lower-body moves, though. She seemed to be going out more for the Vikings than the Lynx at a couple of points. I like her opportunistic nature, though. She cleans up garbage well, which is not an insult. Candice Wiggins is a fun personality off the court, and I really like her, but on the court, she needs to keep her head on straight. She commits really stupid frustration fouls when she gets beaten on a play. We’re lucky she didn’t go off, because this could have been a lot worse. Monica Wright looks like she’s coming into her own. She’s assertive offensively and uses her hands well on defense. She’s starting to show why she was a first-round pick, and why the Lynx are keeping her.
Taj McWilliams-Franklin took a hard shot to the gut that had her bent over a garbage can in the first half. Defensively, she was more than capable, and as always, she was in excellent position to nab rebounds. She’s Mama Taj. She’s immortal and awesome and we still love her. She got a lot of applause during intros. Lindsay Whalen really wasn’t much of a factor. Yes, the offense ran more smoothly with her in there, but that’s about all I can say about her. Reeve went with a lot of Wiggins-Wright in the backcourt. Seimone Augustus is a joy to watch if you’re a basketball fan and a nightmare if she’s playing against your team. She’s just so smooth, and has such a pretty jumper, and then every so often she reminds you that she went to LSU and can play a little defense on the best in the game, too. Effortless is not the right word- natural might be a little closer. I like Maya Moore less and less every time I see her. Yes, she’s talented, and yes, she’s a force, but she also throws people around a bit recklessly and uses her reputation as Maya Moore to get away with it- or, when she doesn’t, starts protesting it like it’s an affront to the dignity of humankind. Don’t body-check people into the boards, and you won’t get called for the foul. Rebekkah Brunson started off well enough to have us screaming in frustration, and even when she tailed off offensively, she got it done on the boards.
The Lynx don’t give up on loose balls. They rebound like their lives depend on it.
DeMya Walker’s shot abandoned her today, and she took one really bad hit that several of us thought should have been a charge. I suspect the compressed timeframe may have not done her any favors. Kelly Miller continues to improve, or at least seem more comfortable with her teammates. She still looks like she found the wall and smashed repeatedly into it, but she’s doing a better job of finding her teammates. But she got beaten too badly for Whiz to be comfortable with her, and that meant running Leilani Mitchell into the ground, but we’ll get to that later. Kia Vaughn got work done on the boards, but she’s got to hit those little shots in the lane that came up short or went awry off the rim. She had good looks. She needs to hit her good looks. Essence Carson was, for me, the player of the game- solid on offense and tough on defense, with one block that I’m reliably told was very athletic, and a Top Ten worthy lay-up off an alley-oop that hung out on the rim for two seconds before leaning out and tipping gently in to get the crowd going.
Poor Leilani Mitchell looked like she’d been ridden into the ground by the end of the game, but she was a gamer. She worked the long rebounds when no one else on the Liberty seemed willing to get the job done and went down to the floor to force jump balls. She’s got pretty impressive hops, too; she might have had a chance on the jump with Augustus if she hadn’t misjudged her leap. Nicole Powell was less awful than usual tonight, hitting some of her shots, and her defense was marginally better. I’d still like to see her be a more aggressive rebounder, but between the improvement and the fact that she was stretching out her back before intros, I’m willing to give her a pass. Plenette Pierson wasn’t a statistical factor, and though she was hustling like always, I suspect that the Lynx’s skill sets combined with Whiz’s bizarre love of alley-oops to put her out of her comfort zone. Kara Braxton appeared to have left her brain at home, which says a lot when it comes to Kara Braxton. She started the game off with three straight dumb plays. It’s no wonder that Kia played the starter’s minutes. Cappie Pondexter came down with a bad case of what Mike Lupica once referred to as “Wanna Be The Man Disease”, forcing a lot of shots against multiple defenders. I know she’s our primary offensive option, and she’s going to take the lion’s share of the shots because she’s supposed to take the lion’s share of the shots, but I’d like to see better judgment from her. She’s got good court vision. I’d like for her to use it.
Play that should have been the play of the game: Nicole’s no-look, over-the-shoulder pass to Cappie, but Cappie missed the jumper on the wing. Cappie, if Nicole goes all Ticha on you, you have to hit the shot.
I was not thrilled with the lack of attention paid to tripping in this game by the refs, on both teams, and I found the discrepency in jump balls between the two halves interesting. I suspect that I’m going to be paying attention to this a lot, since the Liberty appear to be lacking in judgment as to when to foul. How do you win the foul battle 12 to 20 and lose the FT attempts 17 to 11?
The natives are already restless. We heard a few shouts of “We want our money back!” from the other side of the arena. I’m going to lay off of that until at least June. They showed a little life today, and everyone’s going to look bad against the Minnesota Lynx. I do wish Whiz had come back with Kelley and Alex when Reeve came with Thorn and Peters.
I feel bad for Coco Miller. It must be uncomfortable staying in a seat for two hours with a stick wedged in that particular spot. You’d think she’d at least have some emotional reaction when her sister scored.
Lots and lots of credit to the security staff at the Prudential Center. Your intrepid blogger and her dashing husband left the Clipboard O’ Doom under their seats in their hurry to get to the chalk talk, and security was very patient and thorough in looking for it. No luck yet, so if you happened to have been at the game last night and found a gray Saunders clipboard, please let us know. You can keep the cash.
Post-game had a chalk talk with Teresa Weatherspoon for season subscribers. After a bit of a delay, Kym Hampton introduced Spoon, with a mix of puffery and the bizarre humor that always marked those teams. Spoon opened up with imitating the Louisiana drawl, which I’m hoping she tries to do in front of VJ one of these days. Then she gave back some of the love for Kym. See, this is why that team still holds a place in my heart- they still love each other (not like that… probably…) ten, fifteen years later. Think Leilani and Kia will have that? Things don’t go your way, “then suddenly you’ve got a bunch of angry fans, because this is New York and they expect you to perform”. She’s exhorting us to be the sixth man (preaching to the choir, Spoon, but hey). “Get your butts in the seats!” This is our team, she says, (and yes, Spoon, we know that, that’s why we rip them). “Follow them wherever they go.” And then someone shouted preach, and the next thing I know Kym’s got someone’s Rangers cap and is hitting up Laurel Richie for money. This is why I love that team. She’s really hammering home that the team needs us- and we’re hammering back that the team needs her just as much. Seriously, do not shovel BS at Liberty fans. We shovel back, and then we hit you with the shovel. And then someone came up to the podium who had found her on Twitter, and Spoon hugged her and shouted her out, and I do not believe there is a single player on the Liberty who would do that, and that is the difference between the Libs in black and the Libs in blue.
Then Kym introduced Laurel Richie, who seems a little shell-shocked at Spoon’s passion and Spoon and Kym’s routine. She’s so tiny compared to them! Argh, she just used “herstory”. C’mon, ma’am. I love the kibitzers around me, too. “I just want to slap somebody on the ass”- and then she stopped, abashed, and then Spoon slapped her on the butt. She wants to be part of the community and is proud of the community that the league has built. “We don’t do it the same way- we do it differently-” but women are still athletes. More emphasis on support. “What about the Olympic break?” the press asks, and she seems a bit shirty that people assumed that the league wasn’t prepared. Madam President, don’t forget that not all WNBA Olympians are American- that bit about going for the fifth straight gold medal might not fly in Seattle or Atlanta. More squee about the fan base. We get it, Madam President, now please say something substantive. I mean, we got our money’s worth with Spoon, but say something that means things. Though I wonder now how much she considers this an extension of her mission from Girl Scouts, supporting women and the strength of women.
We didn’t exactly learn anything earth-shattering, but Spoon and Kym’s comedy act was worth the price of admission.