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Name of the game; triples and turnovers - New York takes care of Tulsa Friday

Tulsa Shock pre-game huddle before their game with New York
Tulsa Shock pre-game huddle before their game with New York

It was a record-setting night in Tulsa on Friday. Unfortunately for the home team, many of the records that were tied or broken revolved around the exceptional 3-point shooting of the New York Liberty and the inability of the Tulsa Shock to hold on to the ball as the Liberty notched the 92-78 road win.

The game started with some of those unnecessary turnovers for the Shock, with guard Amber Holt pointing out the uncharacteristically slow start.

"We came out a little sluggish from the beginning," said Holt, who ended the night with just six points and two turnovers in her 20 minutes of playing time. "The first possession - turnover and the second and the third - turnover. We've got to cut down on the turnovers."

Shock head coach Nolan Richardson analogized about the inordinately high turnover number of 19 in the game.

"When you have unforced turnovers and you're working so hard to get turnovers it's like going out and working for the money and then walk out on the streets and throw it away," said Richardson. "You can't do that. You work for it, you need to keep it; you need to do something with it."

The frustration of the nature of unforced turnovers could be heard in the voice of rookie Marion Jones, who contributed one of her own in the game.

"There were really moments of us playing good basketball. Good, exciting basketball. And then we'll turn around and it's like we'll share the ball with our fans, just stuff that's like unforced," said Jones. "It's not like their defense - they're not all over us, they're not all up in our bra."

And for the Liberty, that mark of 19 turnovers ties the season-high for opposing teams and only Chante Black, Tiffany Jackson and Natasha Lacy managed to skate through the stat sheet without a dubious mark in the turnover column.

But the dagger in the heart of the Shock was at the hands of what some might consider an unlikely foe in Leilani Mitchell. Mitchell netted herself a career-high 20 points, going 6-of-8 from beyond the arc. Four of the six fell for Mitchell in the first half and New York came away from the first 10 minutes tying a WNBA record of seven triples in a quarter.

Mitchell's hot hand is something that has been ripe in the making in recent practices and games.

"It felt good in the warmup the last few games, actually," she said. "My teammates just did a great job of driving and they had to help and respect them and left me open."

Liberty head coach Anne Donovan had nothing but praise for her guard - forward combination of Michell and Nicole Powell.

"I thought we shot the ball extremely well, we moved the ball," said Donovan. "We knew against the scramble-style defense that they play we had to move the ball and you have to knock down shots and fortunately Nicole and Lei, in particular in the first half, did a really nice job."

Mitchell's six threes were complimented by four from Powell, three from Cappie Pondexter and one from Sidney Spencer. Do the math - that's 14 3-pointers on 22 attempts, a season-high 63.6 percent from long-range and a franchise record for threes in a game.

This is not the first contest in which Tulsa opponents have had an almost unstoppable outside game, with Phoenix drilling 16 when they came to T-Town.

Though she's one of the newer additions to the Shock roster, Jennifer Lacy is expecting the defense to step up their game and become the lock-down defense that have been a hinge to Richardson's previous teams.

"We've just got to get out there and we've got to challenge people better and lock them up defensively," said Lacy. "We have no problem putting the ball in the basket, we have to stop people defensively so I think that's what we need to shift our identity to. Get that heart, get that determination to stop people and I think that's what's going to bring us wins is our defense."

Former New York Liberty forward Tiffany Jackson is also looking to increase the overall defensive intensity, not only from the outside.

"I don't think it's the perimeter defense, I think it's our team defense in general," remarked Jackson. "Everybody has to help each other and we have to be here for each other and tonight we weren't there. We were a little flat and our rotations were a little slow."

Shanna Crossley, sitting out her second-consecutive game due to a staph infection that has invaded her leg, was playing coach as she watched from the stands - an all too familiar position for her in recent years as she's battled with multiple injuries.

"You see more of the execution of things because you know what you're supposed to be doing, the X's and O's, the way the defense is supposed to be and when you don't see that happening you can see why it can get so frustrating to the coaches," Crossley analyzed.

"There's just different things when you're out there and you're actually playing that you kind of belittle a little bit because you're just like 'oh, we'll get it back on the next one'. But when you're seeing it it's like 'goodness, let's not just move to the next step, let's take care of this now and quit having unforced turnovers and quit this and quit that'."

She continued wearing her coaching hat as she compares the Tulsa Shock to the other teams and styles of the league after watching her counterparts battle to the bitter end, "winning" the second half, 43-42.

"We're not designed as a team to play the style that the rest of the WNBA plays. We're designed to play the way he wants us to play and the pressure and getting up in your face and going up and down so once we play that way, yeah that's what you're going to see. You're going to see some success out of that, we just dug ourselves in too big of a hole to make it worth anything.

And just like the mind of a coach, Crossley ends while looking forward in a positive light.

"You've got to look for the positives of what we did at the very end of the game. The effort that they gave and the type of pressure that we can put on - that's the kind of stuff that we need to do for forty minutes, out of the gate from the get-go. There's always positives you can take away, but it's a matter of putting those positives into action and not just talking about it."