Vaughn and Carson Are Knights in Shining Armor for New York

Just the Facts, Ma'am: A pair of scintillating performances by Rutgers alumnae bookended the New York Liberty's 71-67 victory over the Chicago Sky. Kia Vaughn had 11 of her 15 points in the first quarter, while Essence Carson had 12 of her 14 in the fourth to fuel a fourteen-point comeback. Cappie Pondexter led the team with 19 points. For Chicago, Sylvia Fowles had 22 points and eight rebounds, but Epiphanny Prince was the only other Sky player to break double figures, with 15 off the bench.

For Monty Python references, shiny outfits, some unexpected swearing, and the banks of the old Raritan, join your intrepid and relieved blogger after the jump.

 

This team is going to kill me one of these days. And if they don't, these damn youth teams will. Look, would it be so hard to get your seats together and not near season ticket holders so you're not standing in our way and having conversations across us? You might not care about the game, but we do.

Our defense is keeping us in this game. That's the only explanation. We can't hit water falling out of a boat, which says something in New Jersey these days.

Kym is shiny tonight. "They said I'd have 45 seconds. /looks up at clock Yeah. Right." /highlights play "Damn, I was slim back then!" (Yes. Yes, you were. And you were a brick house in more ways than one, bow-chicka-bow-bow.) She has a lot of thank-yous. I can't believe she got away with saying that the team doesn't make money. I think she managed to thank anyone who was any degree of separation from the team.

Seriously, though, if Tari Phillips doesn't get in, there are going to be torches and pitchforks, because I will be holding them.

I have no idea what part of their ass they pulled this out of, and I neither care or regret my use of such language. I think "pulled it out of our ass" is the most accurate possible assessment of this game, and in the interest of journalistic integrity, I have to use the most accurate assessment.

Oh. Coach Donovan was over here. She just passed through the Ice Lounge.

Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton appears to have fallen off the face of the earth. I'm surprised, because she's been an excellent hustle player for them. But maybe that's because Cathrine Kraayeveld is doing the thing where she gets the rebounds and sets the screens, even if they are not the Screens of Death I remember so fondly from when she wore a different shade of blue. She was really looking to get into it with Plenette Pierson at one point, which is an interesting experiment that would probably fail but would be fun to watch from a safe distance. Carolyn Swords was very big, and hey, she played Kara Braxton to a draw. For what that's worth. Has anyone explained the meaning of the phrase 'shot selection' to Epiphanny Prince? Because she appears to be under the impression that it means 'select every shot', and I don't know how far Chicago can get in future years with her throwing up everything that passes through her head. At best, they can be Atlanta, and she and Angel McCoughtry can take turns driving their fans insane. She really should not be taking more shots than Sylvia Fowles in fewer minutes. She took a lot of risks defensively, and sometimes they paid off and sometimes they didn't. Courtney Vandersloot showed some of her court vision and ball awareness, which was nice, and she looked like an average veteran out there, which is a good sign for a rookie. But I don't know if she's the kind of point guard who benefits from watching the flow of the game before getting into it, or if she's the kind of point guard who needs to be in the game to feel the flow of it.

Michelle Snow was a non-factor, except for bouts of defensive holding interspersed with kvetching. It's a shame, because I like when she does heinous things, because then I can drag out her full name from the depths of the WNBA Guide and Register for great mockery. Erin Thorn did her best to try and kill us again, but her teammates didn't get her the ball when she was open. Given that she was the biggest reason they won on Sunday, I'm really surprised by both the lack of adjustment by New York and the lack of awareness by the Sky. Tamera Young, I like your enthusiasm, but projectile should not be the word that comes to mind when I watch you on defense. At least she's gotten some of that horrible hitch out of her shot. It used to make me shudder. I don't know when Dominique Canty took up either masochism or drama lessons, but whichever it is, she needs to not demonstrate it on the floor. She had a couple of spectacular falls that I'm not sure were dives or not. But she's starting to look like a player who's been in the league since 1999. Which, more power to her, and there's something to be said for long runners, but she might need to hang it up soon. Oh, yes, and then there was Sylvia Fowles, Big Syl doing her thing in the middle. I think the thing that amazes me most about her is her vertical. It's really not fair. She's already six-six. What does she need with a vertical like that? She only really needs to get that much higher if she's facing Alison Bales or Liz Cambage! Feed the beast, Chicago. It's not rocket science.

I have no idea why Kara Braxton played so much. I didn't think Whiz was the kind of guy to get distracted by her huge... tracts of land. She hit one of her chippies, and we all reacted like she'd reenacted Spoon's Shot. Okay, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it was after she'd blown a couple of easy shots, done a ballerina impression (which is sure to raise the hackles of some old-school Liberty fans to whom the name Bethany is an expletive), and idly watched a ball trickle out of bounds. Kara, there are a thousand undersized post players out there who would happily perform some sort of macabre surgery to use that six-six body that you can't be bothered to keep in shape or use to its fullest potential; do you really want one of them figuring out how to take it? Quanitra Hollingsworth was shaky defensively- sometimes well-positioned, sometimes woefully out of place- and her shooting could use some work, but her rebounding was on point. Alex Montgomery had a better game than the box score would indicate; I thought she played good defense, and except for the one pass that was meant for Calvin Johnson instead of Plenette Pierson... and the shot clock violation she caused by passing off to Kia Vaughn with 2 on the clock... she didn't look horribly lost on offense- at least, no more than the rest of the team did. Every superhero needs her theme music, and Essence Carson's should be "Right on Time". She was deathly quiet until the fourth quarter, and then it was like she looked at the scoreboard and the out-of-town scoreboard and said, "F*** this, we're not getting any help, we need to win this game." So she started hitting shots and coming up with loose balls, steals, and rebounds. I think all her stats came in the fourth quarter, or if not all of them, most of them.

I think Nicole Powell's hurt, and I'm not just talking about that shot to the eye that gave her a passing resemblance to a younger Katie Douglas. She wasn't moving well during the game, and it seemed like every time she was coming out, she was having a compress put on her back. (Well, either that, or she was trying to combine cosplay with her uniform; bustles don't mix with sweatpants, Nicole.) Leilani Mitchell couldn't hit a shot, and she had a couple of good looks, but her hands were active on defense. I love a point guard with quick hands. Kia Vaughn started the game on fire- she had 11 of the Liberty's 20 first-quarter points- but after Whiz sat her down, she wasn't the same. She still played well. I don't know if it's a sign of good defense or bad defense, but you could see how hard she was working against Big Syl. It was almost stylized defense. Plenette Pierson was steady when she was in, except for one sequence when it looked like she was going to lose her temper in the third quarter. Whiz pulled her out, and I was worried that he'd left her out too long- maybe he'd misjudged, maybe he wasn't happy with her for some other reason- but things ended up working out for the best. Cappie Pondexter is going to get a lot of credit for this win, and she definitely did her part in the run- but putrid decision-making in the first half helped put the team in the hole in the first place. She was taking bad shots and forcing passes. It wasn't pretty.

Whiz, whatever you say to them in the locker room at halftime, don't say it. Just skip to whatever you say at the quarter break. And stop playing someone who's getting treatment after every appearance. Nicole wasn't doing anything out there, and playing her hurt couldn't possibly help.

It just goes to show that sometimes referees' reputations get ahead of them. When they announced the crew, I freaked out. Of course, part of that was because I misheard Tim Greene as Jim Breeding and nearly had a heart attack because that was the guy Lin Dunn almost hauled off and slugged one game. But Michael Price is a name that strikes fear into the heart of any well-read WNBA fan, and Felicia Grinter has a habit of following the other refs' lead. But the game was fairly well-called as these things go. Chicago had a strangely high number of continuations, but that's as much on the Liberty's stupidity in fouling jump shooters as it is the refs' loose definition of continuation. They let a lot of procedural stuff go, which I mostly didn't mind.

Can I just say that I hate when kids will scream and dance and shout for the camera's attention or for a t-shirt, but they look at you like you've got three heads when you're actually into the game?

Also, Pru Center: bigger signage to delineate section 8 versus section 9, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE. I am so tired of being an auxiliary usher, explaining to people that they are in fact in section 9, no, really trust me on this one, I have season tickets, even if you don't believe me THERE IS A SIGN ON THE SEAT NEXT TO YOU.

Shoutout to the free throw contest winner and her two hundred dollars. I love a clutch shooter who can hit the money ball.

I'm going to exhale very slowly, and then I'm going to devoutly hope that when I blink, the score still has the Liberty on top.

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