Just the Facts, Ma'am: Maya Moore's 19 points led the Minnesota Lynx in an 86-68 win over the New York Liberty. Minnesota put five players in double figures and showed stifling defense in the second half. Plenette Pierson's 17 points and eight rebounds led the Liberty.
For raging against the heavens, game strategy, communication breakdowns, ridiculous thoughts, castigation, and a ride on a motorized wheelchair, join your intrepid and regretfully teetotal blogger after the jump.
Dear Prudential Center: communication skills with the Liberty, you need them. No, really, we're not trying to BS you about season subscribers being allowed in an hour and a half before tip time. We just talked to the season subscription people. We just showed you the e-mail that states that we get early entry through either the Box Office entrance or the entrance from the parking garage. And you're still telling us it's not true? Reading comprehension, you lack it. By the time they stopped arguing with the Liberty representative who came over to explain things to them with small words, and managed to unearth a scanner, it was damn near three o'clock anyway.
My goodness, Miss Maya is popular right now, isn't she? I thought I was going to go deaf from the people screaming her name. Of course, because she and most of the other Lynx stars came off late, there were precious few signatures and pictures to get. (Very late. You could hear Charde Houston yelling "Miss Maya, nine seconds!" as the clock ticked down.)
I am so envious of Candice Wiggins's personality. She has so much of it! There are precious few people who can work a room the way she does- it's not the way Spoon works a room, which is a little more serious, or the way Catch works a room, which is very business-like, like she's aware of her role, but pure joyous bubbly personality. It's closest to the way Tully works the room.
Why can't Nicole Powell run that fast when she's on the floor?
The good news is that I'm seeing some #7s come out of mothballs, because we still heart Taj, no matter where her hair has disappeared to. The bad news is there are way too many #23 shirts here, and not just in Liberty blue. God help any of those Maaaaaaaaaaaayaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa fans who come into our section, and I'm not even talking about me.
We're down 11 at the half, and it could be a lot worse. I'd like to know why Cheryl Reeve didn't get a technical for charging out to the midline after the jump ball violation on Whalen. Seriously, the way she's been jawing at the refs even as her players shoot free throws on BS fouls, while it brings back fond memories of Bill Laimbeer, kind of makes me want to go down there and smack her. I'd also appreciate if they'd start calling Maya Moore for her blatant push-offs instead of letting her get away with them and then calling Jessica Adair or Amber Harris for a phantom foul. Otherwise, it's going to get very RU-UConn up in here. We've already had a double foul on Plenette and Brunson for a tangle, and I don't know who I'd take in that fight.
I'd also appreciate if we could guard the far corner, damnit.
I cannot guarantee I will be coherent. I cannot guarantee I will be rational. I cannot even guarantee I will not be profane.
Amber Harris brought a nice little midrange jumper along with her on this road trip. She wasn't so lucky on the boards and getting in the lane. Balls seemed to go off her hands and out of bounds a lot, to the point where I wonder how comfortable she is with her height sometimes. Charde Houston got a cameo in the fourth quarter, and was unsuccessful in getting into the scoring column. I thought she was going to mix it up with one of the RU girls at one point. She looks strange bald, but that's just the shock of the semi-expected, not a judgment on her choices or beliefs. Jessica Adair suffered for Maya Moore's sins, picking up the phantom or borderline fouls right after Miss Maya pulled shenanigans. Alexis Hornbuckle got her time in the fourth quarter, and it seemed odd that she was playing point guard while Wiggins and Wright were both on the floor- except that Reeve is off Laimbeer's tree, which means offense out of the point guard is a pleasant surprise, whereas defense out of the point guard is a necessity (Elaine Powell, I am looking at you, but not too long or you'll hurt me) so it makes sense to use Hornbuckle as point to set up more shots for the actual scorers on the floor. It looks damn weird, though. Monica Wright didn't leave much of an impression on me, except for the fact that she was one of the few Lynx players willing to drive the lane, a nice counterpoint to the strong outside shooting presence of her teammates. I can understand why fans of other teams would find Candice Wiggins's on-court effervescence annoying and see it as a taunt. She didn't really do much that made me go OMG GET OFF MY FLOOR NOW, but she didn't have much of an opportunity.
Have I mentioned lately that I would have greatly appreciated if the Liberty would have drafted Rebekkah Brunson when they had the chance? Either chance? Don't get me wrong, Shameka Christon worked out okay for us, but aaaaargh. Sigh. RAEG. She crashed the boards like her life depended on the Lynx getting her rebounds. She brings an edge and a ferocity to Minnesota that they need- almost too much of one sometimes. But she is very much Baby Yo, and the only one with a better claim to that title is Alicia DeVaughn. When she went out of the game with the fifth foul early in the third quarter, I thought that was our chance to strike. Instead, Minnesota seized the reins. Sigh. Rage. Taj McWilliams-Franklin showed off an array of post moves that showed that Mama Taj still has it. She put on a show in the first quarter, and that spurt put the Liberty on their heels in a way that I don't know if they could recover from. Lindsay Whalen ran the show with aplomb and without much pizzazz, and early on I thought Leilani Mitchell's defense was bothering her. Obviously that stopped working after a while. Maya Moore is smooth, and pretty, and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD NICOLE KRISTEN POWELL STOP LEAVING HER OPEN IN THE CORNER. But for all that, I still think she has a ways to go to be the level of player in the WNBA that she was in the NCAA. She has a much more powerful build than is apparent from the way she plays, and she could be a lot more dangerous is if she's more willing to go further in and use those shoulders- it's nice that she can shoot from the outside, but she needs to be more physical in a productive manner. Please note that a productive manner is not shoving Essence Carson to the ground. Seimone Augustus's jumper is back. I'm scared. It's so pretty!
Fortunately, tonight Kara Braxton was not where lay-ups went to die. It was just where bad passes went to be further bobbled. She wasn't completely horrible, which is damning with faint praise but is one of the nicer things I may yet say about the Liberty in this game. Alex Montgomery, I do not know where your head was, but it was not in this game, and I'm not taking bets as to whether it was in the city of Newark. Fumbles, lousy positioning- her defense was better than her teammates', but that's not saying very much. Essence Carson couldn't find the basket- bad luck, for the most part, but at least she was trying. She always seems to show up late, which is a good thing in close games but a pointless one in blowouts. Quanitra Hollingsworth seemed like she wanted to continue her Roaring Rampage of Revenge, but mostly succeeded in picking up fouls and fumbling the ball. Her one field goal came on a very pretty reverse.
All credit and praise to Plenette Pierson. She showed up and showed out tonight. She was crashing the glass, she was driving the lane, she was putting up the shots, she was playing defense (for the most part). She demonstrated effort, which is the bare minimum I expect from my team. Kia Vaughn let the matchups get into her head a little bit- they were doubling and tripling her at times, and I don't think she was ready for the pressure. Sadly, the entire damn league knows she's not ready for the pressure, which is why they do it. Court awareness, Kia, get you some. I do hope her foot/ankle injury- whatever it was that caused her to go to the floor and then gently collapse into the cockroach-hit-by-Raid position- isn't serious and she feels better soon. Leilani Mitchell left her three-point shot in Minnesota, and the Lynx gladly adopted it and cherished it and called it George. The sad part is that she wasn't the biggest liability out there for the Liberty, despite being mostly a non-factor. That honor almost went to Nicole Powell, except that Nicole at least hit a couple of shots, even if she missed a couple of other easy ones and might as well have been on the moon defensively by leaving players open from the corner repeatedly. Honestly, Nicole, you went to Stanford. Remind me again what the definition of insanity is? Cappie Pondexter better have been playing hurt. Her ankle better be bothering her. Otherwise there is no excuse for that putrid performance she put up. No field goals? Yes, the assists are nice, but she repeatedly passed off good shots to give the ball to teammates who were out of position or double-teamed. It was clear that she did not want to shoot, and when she did start taking shots in the fourth quarter, that she couldn't shoot properly. It was painful to watch, and it can't have been fun to play on.
But the biggest liability in this game for New York was John Whisenant. Why keep running Powell out there when she can't keep up defensively? Why leave Pondexter in the game when she is obviously hurt? Why have either of them out there when it's a 20-point game and Charde Houston is coming in? Why DNP-CD Sydney Colson and Ta'Shia Phillips at that point? Why run injured players into the ground in a game that's long since been lost? Part of being a successful coach means adapting, and Whiz steadfastly refused to through this game. I don't think that's what lost us the game, but that's what gave us the margin. If one of your players has made a point of writing an article for the team web site about playing hurt and the perils of it, perhaps you should be more cognizant of what you're doing to your team, especially when your last two games are against conference opponents, and your most likely opponents in the playoffs. Deplorable game management and reprehensible player management.
Roy Gulbeyan and Maj Forsberg are names that make me go :-/ when I hear them, but the officiating wasn't as awful as I was expecting. The calls they missed were doozies- the repeatedly mentioned pushoff by Moore, Whalen grabbing Plenette's... uh, hips... and all but using her as a vaulting horse, that sort of thing. It was within the realm of error.
To the gentleman who persists in yelling "DEFENSE!" when the Liberty have the ball, and who does it at every game, please be aware that should you come visit section 9, you will not come to a good end. You are like unto a Summer's Eve.
Excellent shooting by the gentlemen playing Tic-Tac-Toe- that was one of the most compelling parts of the day. Nice racing strategy by the guy in the Carson jersey during the go-cart race- the guy in the Pondexter jersey thought he was being slick by going narrow on the turns, and the guy in the Carson jersey realized that he was going to stick and went around him like a slingshot. Of course someone in a Carson jersey is going to have a better grasp on strategy than someone in a Pondexter jersey!
The cluster didn't even end with the game! We tried to catch the Chicago-Indiana game at Brick City, across the street... but the bar across the street from the Pru doesn't have, or doesn't know about, NBA-TV. Fail. So it was a fair piece of fail all the way around.