Liberty overcome slow start to break Fever in OT

Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE

Just the Facts, Ma'am: Indiana started strong, but New York finished stronger, outscoring Indiana 14-8 in the overtime to take a 75-68 win. The Fever's Tamika Catchings led all players with 21 points, eight rebounds, and five steals. Shavonte Zellous had 15 before fouling out in the extra period, while Briann January had 13 points and a game-high five assists. Essence Carson led New York with 21 points. Cappie Pondexter had 17, 11 in the fourth quarter and overtime; Alex Montgomery added 6 of her 13 overtime. For screens, thundersticks, the Katie who walks alone, floor care, relief, stupidity, physicality, and cardiac issues, join your intrepid and salty blogger after the jump.

Good afternoon, everyone! Your intrepid blogger comes to you on tape delay from a school day game at the Prudential Center, featuring the 2012 WNBA champion Indiana Fever and the New York Liberty.

No exaggeration: we had to put up with the stentorian preaching of a particularly annoying zealot from Jamaica Center to Times Square. That's twelve stops. That did not put me in the best of moods for this game. Then again, the weather is absolutely gorgeous, so that made me feel much better.

The seafoam green thundersticks have made their triumphant return, and they'll be going up on the wall one of these days, with the ones from ten other teams. (Talk to me, Tulsa fans! I collect inflatable banging things, and you're the one team I'm missing!)

Attendance is a bit disappointing so far, a half hour before tip. There are empty sections and sections that might as well be empty. The team and league keep forgetting that New Jersey actually believes field trips should be educational, don't they?

Layshia Clarendon's hair is just as cool up close. Really, Indiana is a good team to have come in on a school day, when you think about it: they have kids from Stanford, Cal, and Duke, and a couple of the other alma maters on the roster aren't too shabby either.

We're in the season ticket section, which is one over from our usual seats and a few rows down. I may consider upgrading to these or their equivalent when we move back to the Garden. I'll be able to do it, and that excites me.

At least the kids who did come are as loud as they're supposed to be.

We're getting a Timeless Torches performance today. Not sure how I feel about that. Well, actually, I am, but my opinion of the Timeless Torches has been recorded in the past- if I want to see people my mother's age gyrate, I'll give my mother Pepsi.

Cheryl's fashion continues to be very stylish, but I'd really, really rather see her in a uniform. I am starting to get quite irked at SFO.

I would very much like my "Strike It Up" back, Liberty. At least you played more of it this time, but this is a change I do not like. Not to mention that Toni's mix has two of the same songs as Kamiko's, and if I have to be exposed to mediocre rap, I'd at least like to be exposed to different mediocre rap.

At halftime, it's 36-30 Fever, and I can't believe how flat we're playing. Stupid passes, a horrific lack of boxing out, dumb fouls... the first half was a hot mess. The second quarter had a little more flow to it, so I can be a bit more optimistic. Essence Carson looked good in the second quarter.

This absolutely insipid anti-bullying presentation is not going to convince anyone that mocking their classmates is a bad idea. If this is your plan for ending bullying, honey, I don't think you're going to be Miss New York.

Hello, random guy in St. John's cap! Uh, you did hear that Shenneika Smith got cut and Nadirah McKenith plays for Washington, right? But I'm not going to be the one to break the news to you.

I really want Cheryl Ford's skirt, but I'd really rather see her in uniform.

Teams taking their sweet time coming out of the locker room today.

The box score lies. Jeanette Pohlen is with the team, just not dressed. Well, I mean, she's wearing clothes, albeit ones of questionable taste, but she's not dressed to play.

So that came very close to being in the same echelon as the infamous 54-44 Portland game, and then it came very close to Tamika Catchings blowing the game on an uncharacteristically stupid act, and then it turned into The Alex Montgomery Spin Show. A lot of things to happen in one game, but I tell you, if the Liberty keep doing this, you're going to be short one intrepid blogger, because my family has a history of heart conditions and I simply can't take any more of this.

Anthem singer was all right. Knew how to sing, just didn't have the voice for what he wanted to do.

Libz Bop would be terrible, but it would be amazing at the same time, and I can't help but want it. Also, Essence Carson rocks the pink leopard-print pimp hat far better than Leilani Mitchell does. Sorry, FLB.

We were not expecting a lack of Katie Douglas, but the lack was... um... rather noticeable. You do do a double-take when the only blonde on the floor is Layshia Clarendon...

Jessica Breland played off Erlana Larkins really well (which I guess makes sense, what with the North Carolina thing). They were a heck of a team on the boards, especially offensively. She also had a stunning stuff of Kelsey Bone. She looked better than she ever did in a Liberty uniform, I'll say that. Nice pickup for Indiana. (You're welcome, Lin. Again.) Sasha Goodlett threw her body around, but that was really all she did, although her one shot, a turnaround in the lane, was rather pretty. I'll give her that. Karima Christmas drew a lot of hard assignments. I don't envy her. She didn't play well, but honestly, when you're the only guard off the bench because Lin Dunn has to go three-guard set because you don't know how many minutes you can get from Breland, you're going ot end up in a lot of uncomfortable situations.

Layshia Clarendon is not afraid to shoot. The rim across from the Liberty bench seemed to absolutely hate her. Then the second half started and she hit her first two shots clean. Then she went cold again until one lay-up in overtime. Her hands are impressively quick, though. She poke-checks better than half the New York Rangers. (Better hope and pray that Thibault doesn't get his hands on her. You know he'd love it.) I think she set up at least two steals that were recovered by other players by causing the initial deflection. Erlana Larkins was a beast on the boards. Tough. Scary tough. Butterfingers on hands of stone, though. Six and six might have been eight and eight if she could keep her hands on the ball long enough to be effective. Shavonte Zellous committed an appalling number of stupid fouls, though for what my opinion is worth, I thought the charge that took her out of the game was a giant steaming heap of nonsense. She was very hot in the early going- ten points in the first quarter- but wore down as the game went on. Briann January is really growing on me. I think she'd annoy me more if we had a rivalry with the Fever, but as it is, I rather like her. If nothing else, I appreciate a player who knows how to fall and roll with it. Maybe martial arts training should be part of all players' training regimens. She carried the offense in the third quarter on sweet little outside jumpers. Tamika Catchings was Tamika Catchings, but a somewhat muted version. Because of the lead that the other players were able to stake Indiana to, she got to rest a bit in the second and third quarters. It's generally not a good thing for the opposing team when Tamika Catchings gets to rest. She cleaned up everything, and why would you even try to disconcert her at the line? Her defense was good, but not up to her high standards, IMO. Tamikaze was also in full effect, and I'm surprised she didn't get more punishment from the Liberty for it. That's not the kind of thing I'd expect the Liberty to roll over and take.

Toni Young played in spurts, but her youth was far too apparent. I think the physicality of the game might have gotten to her, though the one shot that she hit in the second quarter was nice. Katie Smith started the second half after Plenette Pierson was knocked out of the game, and she had to play defense all over the floor. She drew the short straw of having to cover Catchings most often, and she did as admirably as she could considering the size difference. I think she was in Catch's head a little bit, and I can deal with that. Her shot to beat the shock clock was a pure prayer, certainly one purer than that of the street preacher who annoyed me so on the way in. Leilani Mitchell got a fair bit of run, and demonstrated that she could totally be as physical as a Laimbeer player needed to be by fouling January (I think) hard on the break. She's still a defensive liability overall, though. Kelsey Bone looked okay on the boards, certainly better than the stats indicated, and I think she got more comfortable as the game went on. She also seems to have been practicing her free throws. I like that in a post. (Despite my St. John's affiliation.)

Alex Montgomery gets her own paragraph because she was the hero of overtime. She cranked her game up with incredible wild spin moves that somehow found the bottom of the basket. Her defense was excellent all game. For what it's worth, I think Essence Carson is the overall superior defender, but Alex has her beat defending on the ball. And she was all over every loose ball out there, too, which is good, since the veterans don't seem inclined to get their uniforms dirty. For stepping her game up in the second half and overtime, Alex is my player of the game.

But Essence Carson is a very close second. There were long stretches during the first half that it looked like Essence was the only Liberty player who actually woke up for the game. It looked like everything was going in for her. She wore down in the latter stages of the game- if she turns strange colors like Kraayeveld used to do, it's hard to tell, but she was shimmering with sweat by the end of the fourth. Kamiko Williams looked like a rookie. Indiana looks like a good match-up for her on the surface, and when she gets her legs under her she'll do well against them, but a rookie point guard not used to the position, running into the buzzsaw of the Indiana defense, even a buzzsaw that's missing some of its teeth- that doesn't end well for the rookie. Plenette Pierson took a hard hit in the first half and came up holding her face. When she went back to the bench, she covered her ears as soon as the loud music came on, so I suspect that she's going to be out for a couple of games with a concussion. NOW can we get Cheryl Ford on the floor? Plenette played well in the time that she was in the game, though she suffered from the same malaise as her teammates early on- no one was following their shots. No one. It was sickening. Kara Braxton was awful. Saying she looked hungover might be a compliment. Her defense was mostly limited to distracting people with her... huge tracts of land. She did have one nice feed to Alex (I think) in the middle. Cappie Pondexter was shifted all over the lineup and was basically Cappie. The turnovers made it hard for her to run the point, and the Indiana defense did the rest.

This is how Tamika Catchings almost became the goat for Indiana: Indiana had the ball up 2. Catchings took a hard fall and lay on the ground for a few moments longer than necessary, with no evidence of pain when she popped back up. While New York was playing five-on-four, Cappie hit an open three that gave the Liberty their first lead of the game at 60-59. Fortunately, Catch was saved from full-fledged goathood when Briann January gave Indiana the lead back and Cappie went only 1-2 from the line to force overtime.

The refs spent a lot of time reviewing and discussing calls. I expect better, or at least firmer, from a veteran crew like Mauer/Humphrey/J. Smith. They also had to reverse a couple of decisions based on quirks in the rulebook, such as a defensive three-seconds call reversed because the ball was in the air. 2:20 is long even for an overtime game, am I right? I think they realized things had gone too far in the first half and tried to overcompensate in the second half. That didn't go well.

LOL of the day: during a stoppage, the PA had a drumbeat that got faster and louder as it went on. The stoppage being particularly long, Katie proceeded to start nodding her head to the beat. It wasn't full-on headbanging, but something tells me that if the delay had been much longer, it might have. Larkins was cracking up at her. Katie is... strange.

It was getting kind of Indiana-Detroit out there for a while, which is not necessarily a surprise, given that half the Detroit Shock work for the Liberty in some capacity. And both teams were giving as good as they got. I really thought someone was going to lose their cool, more than Cappie did when she decided that shoving Briann January in the chest after the whistle was a brilliant plan with no hope of failure. (Cappie, I'm not saying you were wrong... actually, yes, I am, that was mind-numbingly stupid... but I'm just saying that if I were to decide to step to a Fever guard, I would probably not tango with the black belt. Do not taunt happy fun Briann.) Lots of grabbing. Lots of groping. Lots of hacking and wrestling. There was a stretch in the second half where I was squirming in my seat because I felt awkward being a Liberty fan.

To the school behind me that decided to cheer for Indiana after that abysmal first quarter: GTFO, get directly out, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred thundersticks.

I'm glad we escaped with this one, I really am, but we shouldn't have to storm back from a fifeen-point deficit and claim an overtime win over a Fever team missing four of its regular rotation players. We should be better than this. You live, you learn, and you better practice your free throws if you're going to take contact in the paint.

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