Pondexter spearheads balanced Liberty effort

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Just the Facts, Ma'am: A third-quarter surge powered the Liberty to a much-needed win over the Atlanta Dream, 85-78. 23 points on sharp shooting from Cappie Pondexter led five Liberty players in double figures. Pondexter also had eight assists and five rebounds for New York. Angel McCoughtry was dominant for Atlanta, with 33 points, 10 rebounds, and four steals. For crankiness, people who won't stop standing in the aisle, questionable judgment, an army of Cappie, strange shoes, and the release of pressure, join your intrepid and tumultuous blogger after the jump.

Oh, this is going to be a long day, I know it.

Today is Cappie Pondexter bobble-head day, which means a myriad of opportunities to smack Cappie upside the head, in addition to opening up the possibility of trading Cappie in the future, or at least one of her. At least smacking Cappie upside the head will be emotionally satisfying.

It's going to be a long day because some people won't shut up and other people don't seem to know whete they're supposed to be sitting and have been standing in the aisle for, like, five minutes and don't seem to know where they're going. The sections are numbered, the seats are numbered, the rows are numbered, why can't you figure thi out? I have no patience for any kind of stupidity today.

Atlanta comes off in a zerg rush. You have to get them when they're coming on. They did not make a lot of new friends today. On the other hand, there are signs here for Shoni Schimmel.

Dear God, this pregame entertainment does not look legal in any state of the Union, and I'm fairly sure watching it on YouTube gets you a visit from the Feds. Little girls in short red dresses, stretching like college dance teams and gyrating body parts they don't have yet, all to the tune of "99 Red Balloons". So many things wrong with this picture that I don't even know where to start.

The second pregame performance at least seems to have interesting cultural significance- Native American dance group. Yeah, this is my not-terribly-surprised face at their choice of this particular game. For some reason, the sequins amuse me.

To the woman in 108, row 7, seat 19, would you please actually sit down, this is ridiculous. If she keeps standing through the game I am going to have to smite someone. Seriously. There will be lightning bolts.

There's a surprising amount of applause on our side of the court for Atlanta as they come out. Then again, should I be surprised at anything at this point?

Completely unnecessary rendition of "God Bless America" today, thought he singer was good. Anthem singer was also solid, though I can't stand people who mess up the words.

At halftime, thanks to the work of Sugar Rodgers in the second quarter, we're down 40-38 to Atlanta. Sugar has 10 to lead New York. Angel McCoughtry has 15 points and the undying enmity of half the crowd after she rolled Anna Cruz's ankle and refused to get off it.

Larry Johnson in the house. So are Kym and Spoon. Spoon's been showing up more and more often lately, but I'm sure that doesn't mean anything, right?

Shoni, I have no beef with you whatsoever, but since the women behind me are determined to puncture my eardrums whenever you do anything good, I have to keep hoping you epic fail and Coop plants you on the bench. It's nothing personal. I just like my eardrums.

This is the first time I've ever seen people abandon bobble-heads. We adopted two additional Cappies to go with our two, so I'm now entertaining trade offers for Cappie, and no, I will not be getting tired of that joke any time soon.

This was the game we needed, or at least a game that we needed. We'll see if this lasts as long as the last big win we had- you'll have to excuse me for being skeptical about it. At this point, I'm skeptical and cynical about a lot of things.

Shoni Schimmel caught a hot streak from beyond the arc in the third quarter, but went so cold in the fourth that Cooper pulled her out of the game late in favor of Jasmine Thomas, when a three was definitely called for. I'm not sure why he did that. She had a couple of nice passes and a couple of good steals, but was otherwise unremarkable. Céline Dumerc played a fair amount at the point- sometimes alongside Hayes, sometimes alongside Schimmel- and seemed to have a firm hand on the offense, along with a surprisingly vicious rivalry with Anna Cruz. Gotta be from overseas, I'm thinking. There was a collision near the end of the game where they both went down pretty hard. Of course, I have to think that Dumerc initiated the contact, but Anna might have been a little reckless too. I don't know how Swin Cash got away with those shoes- I'll swear on my grandmother's grave that they were the light-up ones like the little kids have. Even if they weren't, they were at least sequined in the back and reflecting light off the court. She got called on to play a fair amount of four in the fourth quarter, after Sancho Lyttle started racking up fouls like they were rewards points. She and Plenette got tangled up for a loose ball, during which it appeared that there were some perhaps unresolved issues from the Shock days. Aneika Henry gave good minutes from the post- not necessarily statistically strong minutes, but she defended well on the inside. Amanda Thompson played briefly in the first half, and all I can remember about her is how fabulous her hair was. They were not the most influential of minutes.

Tiffany Hayes rubs me the wrong way, whether it's the odd shot selection, the diving (though she kept that mostly in check today), or that wonderful little karate chop to Anna's throat. I think that might be it, actually, since then Anna got called for the foul. (The crowd was not amused, to put it mildly.) I don't know why Jasmine Thomas is still getting the starts in Atlanta, unless it's just a matter of familiarity. She's not playing the starter's share of the minutes, from what I've seen, but she's playing in crunch time, and she showed nothing today that would indicate a player who deserves crunch time minutes. She doesn't seem to play superb defense (then again, neither do her counterparts) and her shot was not falling. I love Sancho Lyttle's defense. I like it even better when she's not playing against my team. It's not necessarily that she plays fundamentally sound defense, but she gambles, and she gambles like a card counter at a Vegas blackjack table. She's got a good eye for how and when to use those fast hands and that athletic body. I don't know why she was taking outside jumpers, but more power to her for doing it- helped us win the game, so I can't complain too much. Érika deSouza is just so solid. She's not flashy. She's not going to set the world on fire. She's not going to make you ooh and ahh with her moves. But she will not be moved, and she will take down that rebound, and if you do something mind-numbingly stupid like drive right at her with no backup plan, she will swat you without mercy. She had shots go in and out, and also seemed to be setting up outside more than she should have. Angel McCoughtry put on a show from all over the floor, including some of her Lori Ann antics (Lori Anntics?) near the end of the game. She followed her shots ferociously, which I have to love. She's such a phenomenally talented player, just a player I want to smack upside the head.

Brief moments of Chucky Jeffery today, as a spot defender who can handle the ball a little bit. She got at least one of Essence's shifts in the second half. DeLisha Milton-Jones played more in the second half than the first, giving Plenette Pierson relief when she needed it. (That... came out wrong.) Nothing remarkable, but she didn't make too many mistakes either. Essence Carson played some defensive shifts, took bad shots, and caught the ball while standing out of bounds, I am not making this up. I'm pretty sure that's why she didn't get much more playing time after that. Shanece McKinney had a couple of nice shots in the first half and came in late in order to protect Plenette from someone on either team doing something stupid. Plenette Pierson looked like she was starting to recover from the knee injurys he suffered a couple of games ago. She was tough on the inside and hit her shots when we needed them. I'm glad to see her back on form. I like Bill's idea of sticking with Avery to start the game and get those first few rough minutes out of the way, actually. Avery is a very useful player, but in the crunch, I'd rather have Plenette not as worn down as she could be from starting. Sugar Rodgers had a solid game on both ends of the floor. I have to say I didn't think Sugar had the kind of temperament to adjust to being both microwave and defensive maven, but she's been willing to learn. She was never a great defender at Georgetown, but she's been putting in work on that end in the last couple of weeks. She's growing on me. Of course, I say that now and next game I may want to apply the Round-Up to get her to stop growing, but she is what she is.

Avery Warley-Talbert is not quite good enough to challenge Érika deSouza, but she's serviceable. She gave Plenette and DeLisha a chance to rest up for the stretch, and that's about all we asked of her. Alex Montgomery was really feeling her shot, for good and for ill- I mind me of one three-point attempt that struck me as pure heat-check after she'd hit a couple of shots. She missed a lot right at the rim, to our infinite and eternal frustration, but she brought the defense (as much as she could- Angel McCoughtry is no one's easy assignment) and showed why she should be starting. Anna Cruz really needs to look for her own shot more- I think there were at least two possessions where she made an extra pass that resulted in a turnover or a horrendously bad shot from someone else- but she had a good all around game, and I love how the offense runs when she's on the floor. Tina Charles pulled down her boards, but seemed to have fallen into the peculiar habit of taking other people's preferred bad shots. She fired off both one of Cappie's fadeaway-off-the-left-foot jumpers and one of Essence's pell-mell-throw-the-ball-sort-of-at-the-basket-wildcat-football drives. Tina, make your own mistakes, don't make your teammates' mistakes. Cappie Pondexter was lethal and came up big down the stretch. It's kind of refreshing to look at shooting lines and question people other than Cappie. She did a lot of running and carried a lot of the load, and she was one of the heroes of the day.

The officiating was flat out dangerous at times in this game. I really do object to uncalled karate chops, and Angel's utter lack of maturity at the end of the game (though Cappie was not the most adult in her response, either). I thought for sure something was going to go down at the end of the game when DeLisha and Shanece came in for Tina and Plenette.

Near the end of the game, after the aforementioned karate chop, Bill was having words with Michael Cooper.  I thought he was going to tell him to meet him in the parking lot for a rumble after the game.  He was NOT amused.

We were strong tonight,a nd we took what was thrown at us and threw it back from beyond the arc. Hot three-point shooting isn't going to save the day all the time, but that kind of fortitude and resilience will.

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