Just the Facts, Ma'am: The New York Liberty took charge with a 19-7 fourth quarter and beat the Washington Mystics 75-62. Monique Currie's 24 points for Washington led all scorers, but she was the only Mystic in double figures. Cappie Pondexter led New York with 22 points, adding seven rebounds and six assists. Nicole Powell had 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting, and Kia Vaughn notched a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
For relief, opera, blinding pink, the revival of the dead, slight exaggerations, dishes, passes out of bounds, drunk flight attendants, and an Edna Campbell jersey, join your intrepid and wiped blogger after the jump.
Trust me when I say that you don't want to know what kind of day your intrepid blogger has been having. The real world is cruel to those of us who write thousands of words about basketball for naught but glory.
It's funny how the season starts to wind down and you notice things: the dwindling pile of tickets in the Wheaties box, the cleared dates on the calendar, the last weekday home game. It's a bitter sweetness, one made easier by the proximity of the college season. Midnight Madness is only a month away.
Right now, Leilani Mitchell's three-pointer with 2.4 seconds left in the half provides the margin. I'm not celebrating it, though; Jasmine Thomas went down the play before and the Mystics were four-on-five. Thomas had to be carried off the court by the trainer and Ashley Robinson, but she was walking by the time they left the court.
They're doing a live auction for breast health awareness tonight, with a real auctioneer. So far Essence's game used uni has gone for $650, Cappie's has gone for $1200, an honorary coaching stint for something like $700, dinner with John Starks and Larry Johnson (along with Knicks tickets) for $1400, and a weekend trip to Atlanta (first class, VIP) for $1300. (Trip winner, you got a phenomenal deal.) They should have gotten Ajavon or one of the Mystics to drive the bids up. Worked like a charm for the Mystics. No pun intended. But their auctions are legend.
So far my favorite play in this game is Kara Braxton's beautiful find of Nicole Powell cutting backdoor. I also liked DeMya Walker's over-the-shoulder fling. I do wish we'd stop throwing alley-oop passes to players who are not tall enough for them. That would be all of our players, by the way. Why is this game so close? Other than Jasmine Thomas's mastery of the laws of physics, I mean. Her first shot went high off the window and in; her second make went off the rim and in. How? HOW?
Beautiful soaring operatic anthem by a breast cancer survivor. Do your awesome thing.
That shouldn't have been nearly as close as it was. That shouldn't have been a battle. There's no way the Mystics should have had the chance to be in the lead. If the Liberty think they're a playoff team, they can't let a team like the Mystics stay in the game. I'm sorry, Washington fans, but that's the truth from where I'm sitting.
Natalie Novosel came in for defensive purposes at the end of each half, and that's it. Iziane Castro Marques played one stretch in the third, and that's it. Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton continues to impress me with her defensive intensity at the many and varied positions that Trudi Lacey attempts to insert her into. There's something about her body shape that doesn't pass the eye test- blocky in some ways and unbalanced in a way that I can't quantify- but she gets the job done. She wasn't able to get the basket on the offensive glass the way she usually does, but I still like her. (Why does she have to be stuck in Washington?) Shannon Bobbitt played a lot less than I realized, given that she was involved in two crucial plays- the grab from underneath that garnered her the technical at the end of the first quarter, and the reversed three that gave the Liberty back the lead at the beginning of the fourth. Her speed was useful, and it more than made up for her lack of height, but she was not an asset to the Mystics. Matee Ajavon came off the bench again and was actually better on defense than offense. She had the poke-check going tonight, unlike her shot. Washington's going to need her to be a lot smarter if they want anything out of her next season. Michelle Snow was more of an instigator and a defensive presence than an offensive option. You've never seen a shrug until you've seen a six-five stringbean throw her arms and shoulders up in a shrug. I like her expressiveness when it amuses me.
If I were a Mystics fan, I'd be quite relieved at the play of Monique Currie in this game. She attacked the paint with no fear, driving the lane and either drawing free throws or getting the lay-up. She was fierce and she was tough. She was pretty good on defense, too. Noelle Quinn was hot early, but I hope she's okay after she banged her shoulder pretty bad in the fourth quarter. I don't know if it was dislocated or not, but it looked like she was hurt pretty bad. Jasmine Thomas tried to do too much, and it cost her at the end of the game, when her wild drives came up short and her aggressive passing ended up in the hands of the other team. She didn't look like she was ready to be a starting point guard for anyone. Crystal Langhorne absorbed a lot of contact- hip, mouth, chest- and was sealed off marvelously by Plenette Pierson. She put out a lot of effort, and she did well cleaning up the Liberty's stupid passes. Seriously, what can I do to get you to New York, Crystal? We would cherish you and love you and lose a lot less than the Mystics. Ashley Robinson actually... well, impressed is a strong word. She did well the things that she does well, and she added a little offense to boot. I didn't realize she had that long elbow jumper. She still makes more than he rshare of boneheaded plays, but this was the first time I saw her start over Snow and felt that she deserved the start.
Trudi Lacey, when your team has made up an 11-point deficit to take a five-point lead, why would you not only make a sub, but make a three-woman line change? That being said, the Mystics played inspired defense and cleaned their offensive glass well.
Kelley Cain, you are by far bigger and stronger than Michelle Snow. Why were you letting her push you around like a puck on a shuffleboard? You can't just stand there and watch balls go by you! As you can tell, your intrepid blogger does not approve of Kelley's performance in this game. Alex Montgomery played in short spurts, mostly to change things up in terms of positions. She might have played more if she was paying attention to Whiz in the huddle instead of the Klondike dance promotion. Yes, Alex. We can see you, you know. Leilani Mitchell's three was her only make of the game, and at least she didn't do anything as stupid as most of her teammates did when it comes to passing the ball. I would have liked to see her post up Shannon Bobbitt, just once. I would have liked to see her not have to guard Ashley Robinson when things broke down. DeMya Walker had her mojo working in the paint and drew a foul on Washington that had us bringing up the perfect 10 card. But tonight's bench play was all about the return of Kia Vaughn to the land of the living. We roared as loud as we ever did when she pulled down the last rebound to get the double-double. She was being assertive and getting position on the boards, and her outside jumper was working, though I'd have been even more enthusiastic if her points had come in the paint.
Still! Yay, Kia! With that smile, how can you not cheer for her?
Kara Braxton played much less than I realized, though that may have had to do with her inability to hold on to the ball at any point in the game. Dropped passes, fumbled passes, rebounds off her hands, the wonderful ability to look completely lost on the court- this was the Kara of old. I didn't miss this Kara. Can we have Bill Laimbeer terrify the badness out of her again? Plenette Pierson was a hot mess for most of the game, with hard enough hands that I think moisturizer was in order, but she came through in the fourth quarter. That's when she started tearing down boards and getting her lay-ups to fall. Where her statistical impact isn't directly seen is in her shutdown defense on Crystal Langhorne. Everywhere Langhorne tried to go, there was Plenette. That is awesome. Quiet and somewhat careless night for Essence Carson. Not a lot to say about her. Cappie Pondexter did the things that Cappie is paid to do: she hit big shots, she found her teammates, she pulled down long rebounds. She also took a couple of shots from the general vicinity of Harrison, which is not a good plan. The best part of the night was seeing Nicole Powell look like a star again, for the first time in a long time. She picked her spots and she let loose. And while her defense suffered a little bit, I could deal with that. If we're going to do anything at all in the near future, Nicole has to be the star that we gave up Shameka Christon for, and the star that we passed up Rebekkah Brunson for.
All right, Liberty. Question. You have five post players. Two are 6-6 and have the jumping ability of a defective pogo stick. One is 6-4 with a history of knee issues. One is 6-2 with a history of knee issues. The last is Kia Vaughn. WHY DO YOU KEEP THROWING ALLEY-OOP PASSES? Especially when the other team has two 6-5 centers who are defensive specialists? And Crystal Langhorne? I think six or seven of our turnovers came under the basket on ill-advised passes.
The shot by Bobbitt that was retconned out of existence: right call on three different levels. She went up and down. She was over the line. And the shot was late. Other than that, it was perfectly kosher. All night the refs had issues with the three-point arc. Maybe the pink on some of the sneakers blended into the orange of the arc? A lot of contact went uncalled, and I can understand Nicole's frustration on her third foul.
Whatever that routine with the Timeless Torches and Maddie tearing off the bathrobe to streak across the court and take out one of the Torches... can we never do that again? Please? I shouldn't be trying to figure out if the flap over the robe is the bottom of Maddie's improperly tucked in head, chest hair, or cleavage. No. Just. No. Maddie is not Hugh Hefner. I do not want to see a large stuffed dog hip thrusting at a woman old enough to be my mother. No. Stop.
The Klondike dance-off was pretty good. Still, Alex shouldn't have been watching it.
I'm glad we came back in this one. I might have gone berserk otherwise. I could feel myself going nuclear at a couple of points. This team just doesn't have enough to go all the way, and this shouldn't have been a game that Cappie and Nicole and Kia all had to step it up in.