Atlanta puts Liberty's playoff dream on the brink

USA TODAY Sports

Just the Facts, Ma'am: The Atlanta Dream put four players in double figures and took over the game in the second quarter to beat the New York Liberty 70-57. Angel McCoughtry led the Dream with 16 points, adding seven rebounds; Érika de Souza had 12 points and 14 rebounds. Kara Braxton led New York with 17 points before fouling out. For flailing at fail, missing wheelchairs, late nights on the E train, runaway centers, and a lingering agony, join your intrepid and crumby blogger after the jump.

It's almost over now, almost over now...

I have to learn to be more specific in my wishes. We have the Shock front office, and we have a calendar, but it's a boring calendar with boring photos that we've seen before. Okay, guys, fine. Raise the bar next year. Y'all did cars in Detroit and found a way to make Elaine Powell look kind of pretty, y'all can find a New York theme and style up the team.

This New Jersey mix they're doing for "Thank You Newark" night is pretty awesome. Somewhere, though, someone in the stands is angry that Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi weren't included if it was going to be a New Jersey mix instead of just Newark-and-its-environs.

Barb. I love ya. You were solid for us as a player and you appreciate the value of your vote. But you have to stop with the horizontal stripes. You are not in playing shape anymore. You do not have the figure for horizontal stripes. I know this from personal experience. Mama Taj's dress, however, is on point.

It's probably not a good sign that Kamiko fumbled and Kelsey dropped her pants during warm-ups. But that's okay. I'm almost hoping we hit the tragic number tonight to end it.

"Single Ladies" does not go there, music. Someone get Kia Vaughn out of the DJ booth and back to the Mystics game.

Plenette, it might not have been tactful to crow about going back to the Garden during the thank you to Newark, but I'm down with that.

Normally I detest the addition of "God Bless America" to the pregame festivities, but the singer was awesome. So was the anthem singer.

I am not happy with Ruth Riley right now. Her and her stupidly spaced jersey... I don't like Cappie and the Miami Sol were the team of my heart, but you do not kick my players. EVER. I'm not thrilled with running Cappie back out there on the injuries, but I'm not Bill Laimbeer (I'm way too short).

Seriously, this season cannot be over soon enough. I don't usually say this as a WNBA fan, but between the utterly ridiculous number of injuries across the league and the epic fail that has been my team at home, this season has been too long for me. I don't think I'm the only one who feels this way, either. I suspect there are Sun fans, Silver Stars fans, even Fever fans, who would like the parade of injuries and incidents to stop.

Ruth Riley played like she was trying to make Bill Laimbeer proud of her. Her fouls were tough and physical, especially that kick on Cappie (yes, still irked, no, not letting go, yes, I retain the urge to yell "SWEEP THE LEG!" at her). She did try to get her outside jumper going, but the rim was not amused and spun her shots out pretty much the entire time. Yes, even her free throws. I cackled maniacally at that. Alex Bentley demonstrated her superb knack for hitting shots late in the shot clock, even from awkward angles. I think three of her baskets came late in the clock- I know she had a deuce as the shot clock expired. That's an impressive knack, and against every other team in the league I hope it lasts her entire career. Aneika Henry brought physicality in surprisingly few minutes- I don't know if Fred Williams was trying to rest her for the playoffs or if she's nursing some kind of injury (she had on a shoulder brace that could have passed for armor at a Renaissance Faire) or if Señor Fred thought Riley was playing better for some bizarre reason. Tiffany Hayes annoyed me. I hate seeing bench players take four steps and not get called for traveling. I hate seeing bench players throw shoulders and not get called for the offensive foul. It's one thing if you're going to grant Jordan Rules to a superstar, but there is no known universe where Tiffany Hayes is a superstar. Okay, she did kill us from the corner in the second quarter, because we have no pattern recognition and refuse to cover someone who keeps hitting shots from the same spot, because why would we want to do that? She still annoys me.

Armintie Herrington jumps like she's got coiled springs in her legs. She skied for boards and saved a lot more than the two offensive boards that she was credited with. Her hands were spectacular on defense today- there was one sequence where she got the ball stolen from her and stole it right back without any hesitation. Her shots in the lane were going off strong, but her teammates seemed to be expecting them. Érika de Souza was a beast in the paint. No one was stopping her. Granted, no one seemed to be trying, but even when some form of effort was detected, she powered her way to the basket. Jasmine Thomas took advantage of her teammates' quick hands, as well as her own, to pry away steals and get the break going. She had a couple of unfortunate moments with Katie Smith- ran her over on a charge, got her in the face on a hit. The rim would appear to like Le'Coe Willingham. She got very lucky on one of her shots in the fourth quarter, but we'll get to that in a moment. I kept getting distracted by her hair, to be honest- it looked like either the braiding came undone or the ponytail was trying to escape. I seem to recall that hair being attached to a couple of pretty tough picks.

Interesting moment in the second half- Liberty shot missed, rebound went out of bounds as Willingham and Henry converged on it. After it was determined that the ball went off Atlanta, Willingham and Henry had a very... animated... conversation. Obviously, from nineteen rows up on the other side of the court, I couldn't tell what they were saying, but whatever was going on there, it unsettled Fred Williams enough that he called timeout shortly afterwards.

I don't know why Toni Young was so thoroughly buried on the bench in this one. It's not like we ever had a puncher's chance. She got in and hit her first jumper, and that made us happy. Leilani Mitchell continues to get a ridiculous amount of pop from the crowd, to the point where it's starting to genuinely freak me out, and I don't think she's responding well to it. She's become more tentative as a shooter (which is not a good sign when that's about the only thing you're being allowed to do) and didn't get much else done on the floor. You should have heard the place when she hit the free throw on the defensive three-seconds call. You'd think she hit a buzzer-beater. I expect better from Liberty fans. Kelsey Bone showed flashes, but not much else, and her defense against de Souza was weak. You have to go hard on her. She's one tough motha- okay, I'm shutting my mouth, which I wish the drunk guy across from me would do, because he can't sing, and definitely not in falsetto. DeLisha Milton-Jones had nothing today. Couldn't get a shot to fall and seriously got blocked by Le'Coe Willingham. Lots of blocks were occurring, but someone with DeLisha's legendary wingspan should not be getting blocked by a shorter player with less vertical. Alex Montgomery was tough, and her shot showed up. Huh, she took fewer shots than I thought. She was one of the few players who actually took it to the hole. Leilani had a pretty find for her.

Sir, please do not attempt to moonwalk on a moving train while under the influence of something stronger than alcohol. Sir. Sir, you are not Nicki Minaj. Your sh*t does not, in fact, bang bang.

I've been beating this drum like Dave Grohl on a solo, but Cappie Pondexter is hurt. The left heel is bothering her. She had to go to the locker room with a lower leg issue. She can't take a fadeaway if she can't land on her back foot. She can't move with the kind of quickness needed to defend a ballhandler if her knee is refusing to bend properly. And we saw it happen when Jasmine Thomas blew past her and left her in a heap on the floor. I've been railing at Tina Charles for shutting down, but it's time for the team to shut Cappie down. It's for everyone's good. Kara Braxton got off good shots and couldn't get a lot of them down. She started hot, then got shut down until the fourth quarter. We spent a lot of time shrieking "KARA!" at her stupid moves. Katie Smith is strong. Running into her is not the most brilliant plan in the world, Tiffany Hayes. People who run into Katie Smith tend to bounce. Her defense was better than the last couple of games, but that is damning with faint praise. We thought she might have gotten away with one on the three-pointer that was reviewed and confirmed. Plenette Pierson was solid. She's been fighting through a lot this season. I'm not going to argue with her.

Funniest moment of the night: Kara Braxton attempted to chase a loose ball and ended up leaping over the bench, as so many players do. Instead of climbing over the Dream bench to get back on the court, she ran down the aisle behind the scorer's table, parallel to the action on the court, and ran back onto the court through the gap by the Liberty bench. Smart, in a bizarre kind of way, but bizarre at the same time, and ineffably Kara.

Pregame martial arts display was pretty awesome. Halftime dancers, not so much. Didn't stay for the wheelchair game, because to be honest, I wanted to get out of Newark as soon as possible. Have I mentioned that I'll be glad when this expedition is over? Because I will.

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