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Heads Whalen Wins, Tails Liberty Lose

Good teams – playoff teams – are supposed to beat cellar dwellers at home.

So I really want to give the Liberty a pass for losing 74-69 on the road to the Connecticut Sun last night.

And ultimately, you can’t – the Liberty threw away a much needed victory and crept a little bit closer to securing that bottom spot in the East.

Even sadder, is that the collapse was almost predictable.

I’m not sure if the Liberty lack talent or lack motivation…but they really don’t seem to care. I’m not even sure you could say they panicked once the Sun started their comeback…it literally looked like they weren’t interested in the outcome.

Body language, facial expressions, hustle…it just wasn’t there..

Instead, they chose to settle for jump shot out of jump shot, slowly shooting themselves out of the game.

It was almost as though they were officially waving the white flag in preparation of heading to an early vacation.

Rebecca at Game Notes of Dooooooom recently compared the Liberty to a waterbug or a giant flying roach – they move from arbitrary action to an untimely death. And that’s sort of what happened, but not entirely.

They decided to just throw the game during the third quarter this time and then had a small burst of life in the fourth, when Connecticut Sun point guard Lindsay Whalen decided to stomped out all remaining signs of life by driving to the basket treating the Liberty like lesser forms of basketball life.

Or as Whalen said in her post game interview, just playing basketball.

Whalen is an amazing point guard by any standard. People compare her to Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird and I ranked San Antonio Silver Star point guard Becky Hammon above her, but Whalen is unparalleled in the point guard universe.

A knowledgeable fan emailed and suggest a better NBA comparison than Deron Williams would be Jason Kidd, but then Whalen is a better shooter than Kidd hands down (in fact, I recall telling my high school junior varsity basketball coach that I was a better shooter than Kidd, who was hands down the best high school player I’ve ever watched in the Bay Area… but I did shoot 40% from 3 point range on varsity. Take that!)

Whalen can do just about anything you want a basketball player to do for a team. And last night, she did that to the point of carrying a team to victory without her all-star forward. And when I say carried, having watched the game or looked at the box score, can you really say that anyone else significantly helped Whalen during the game?

Forward Kerri Gardin had a good defensive game, recording 4 blocks and 2 steals and guard Tan White had a solid game with 8 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists…but this is one of the few cases in team sports where the game was won on the strength of one player’s performance when it counted most. And that’s impressive.

Of course, the Liberty did everything in their power to help the Connecticut Sun during the third quarter – shooting 27.8% and allowing your opponents to shoot 60% is an excellent way to blow a lead on the road.

But credit Whalen for being the ultimate point guard in this game – leading the team on the court, making teammates better, and doing the little things that allowed her team to win.