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Fourth-Quarter Surge Puts Liberty Over The Top

Just the Facts, Ma'am Cappie Pondexter's 28 points, Taj McWilliams-Franklin's double-double, and a 17-2 fourth quarter run helped the New York Liberty defend home court in the first game of the Eastern Conference semifinals, as they defeated the Indiana Fever 85-73. Tamika Catchings led the Fever with 18 points, adding seven rebounds, six assists, and four steals.

For gratuitous Monty Python references, cool hairstyles, small children, flying elbows, and the Wrath Of Nicole Powell, join your intrepid and hyped-up blogger after the jump.



Okay, I think the caffeine's starting to kick in, taking the place of the adrenaline that started to surge during that fourth quarter run. I have no idea if we can stroll into Conseco and do this again, but I'd sure like to see them do it.

Because of the early start time, I wasn't able to get to the game as far before the tip as I would have liked, but boarding the L right into a family in tall striped Liberty hats and seafoam green #23 shirts more than made up for it.

A roll of my eyes to the woman and her daughter who fled for quieter seats. We weren't even cursing. Honestly, if you come to a basketball game in New York, you shouldn't be surprised if the people around you are heckling the opposition. I also fart in the general direction of people who couldn't be bothered to stand for the anthem. Look, I don't care if it's your country or not. If Tully Bevilaqua and Tammy Sutton-Brown can stand up and quietly respect another country's anthem, so can you. Now, go away or I shall taunt you a second time.

They ran a trivia contest, which of course I smashed, but I do call shenanigans on the one question I got completely wrong, because I think it was ambiguously worded. "How many mothers have played for the Liberty?" Now, the answer they wanted was one. But I can think of two players who had kids at the time they joined the Liberty: Trena Trice and Taj McWilliams-Franklin. There are also at least three former Libs who have gone on to have kids: Rebecca Lobo, Kym Hampton, and Elena Baranova. So unless they meant this season, or who had only played for the Liberty- which they should have specified- I need an explanation.

Beautiful renditions of both "God Bless America" and the national anthem tonight. I always find that a good sign, even though I know there's no correlation. Good performances put me in the mood for the game; bad ones leave me simmering.

Why, oh why did we give up on Jessica Davenport? 8 and 8 would have been pretty handy off the bench. I was amused at how much she relied on the glass, with some inaccurate results. It was weird how the elbow came out on one of her screens that got called for an offensive foul- she didn't even look like she meant to throw a serious elbow, but it suddenly twitched out. Maybe her arm is possessed? Briann January really needs a talking to about her shot selection. She was calling her own number way more than she needed to be, and in spots where she definitely shouldn't have. All kinds of energy, but badly directed, to put it diplomatically. I know Shavonte Zellous was in, and I know she played extended minutes, but except for one complaint about a foul, I can't recall anything she actually did. Jessica Moore was in for what I'm presuming are defensive purposes, but were mostly a chance to waste Kia Vaughn and get some rest for our real posts. There was a brief Jené Morris sighting, which was Coach Donovan's sign that the game was over and it was time to bring in the back end of the bench.

Do you get the feeling sometimes that Tamika Catchings doesn't know that there are other people on the court? I don't mean that she's selfish or a ballhog, because she's definitely not, but sometimes she makes moves in blatant disregard of the fact that there is someone occupying the space she intends to pass through, or she'll seem oblivious to a teammate calling for the ball. I can't believe how sweet her stroke has gotten, but I also can't believe how much more dramatic she's gotten. Someone's being a bad influence on her. Tammy Sutton-Brown appeared to be under the impression that she was playing for the Maple Leafs, not the Fever- there were a couple of overly physical plays that she seemed surprised were called fouls, as well as one spectacular poke-check. She was a presence inside, but not one that Indiana effectively took advantage of. Ebony Hoffman annoys me for reasons I can't quite put my finger on. It's almost like she's transitioning into a tweener, which is generally not a good place to transition to. I know it's more and more prevalent for a four to almost play like a more broad-shouldered three, but Hoffman doesn't seem to have a full skill set for either position anymore. We shut Katie Douglas down pretty well, though I do wonder if she was still suffering from akle problems. She didn't seem to have her first step or as much lift as usual. (Almost typed life there, which was also true.) However, Kathryn, please note that the next time you blindside Nicole Powell and send her to the floor in a manner reminiscent of why Jamie Carey left Stanford, Nicole will probably get up and slug you. Fair warning. Tully Bevilaqua, as much as I love that charming gnat, appears to have joined the herd of older players who are running off the cliff like lemmings. She sunk open corner threes, but Leilani Mitchell out-gnatted her for most of the game.

Brief cameos for Nikki Blue and Sidney Spencer, and I appreciate that neither of them failed too badly in their minute of playing time. Kia Vaughn had a little more time and managed to commit a stupid foul in it. (See, guy behind me who keeps starting the "WE WANT KIA" chant at inopportune times, that is why you can't have Kia most of the time. She has no judgment, her moves are mired in molasses, and she's a much better motivator than a player.) Kalana Greene wasn't really necessary in this game, which is a harsh statement to say about anyone, but since she's usually in the slot that Essence Carson filled so admirably tonight, she was redundant. Speaking of Essence, she was fantastic tonight. I don't know what she's been doing to keep her quick-twitch muscles going, but her reactions were incredibly fast, and she was all over both sides of the floor. There's a reason she's the player who got interviewed after the game. Plenette Pierson started out really looking like she didn't know where she was or what she was doing- missing passes, missing assignments, letting the ball bounce out of her hands- but once she hit a couple of shots, it looked like she was back in her groove.

With a little bit more luck and a smidgen more hustle, Janel McCarville could have gotten the weirdest double-double in Liberty history. She wasn't hitting shots, and for once she seemed aware of it. It was really weird to see her leading the team in assists while our Most Improved point guard racked up the rebounds. There were still way too many plays where she didn't seem to have her head in the game, but if she can keep picking apart the interior defense with Penicheiro-style passing, I can live with that. Speaking of the 2010 MIP, Leilani Mitchell looked bothered by the Fever defense- don't know why, because it's not like Tully hasn't tried to climb down her shorts before, but what do I know? Nicole Powell got more fired up than I've ever seen her. Yes, I heard about her flipping the crowd the bird in Washington, but this was different. She got hit hard with no hint of a call, and when she got up I genuinely thought she was going to go after one of the refs. It got into her head a little bit at the end of the game, like she was trying too hard to let her game do the talking, but early on, the threes were falling nice and smooth. Defensively, no, she wasn't anything to write home about, but that's not what I expect from her- if anything, the only part of her game I was really disappointed in was her sub-par rebounding. Taj McWilliams-Franklin did a nice job cleaning up after some of the stupid shots we took- unfortunately, she took a lot of shots from Indiana. It's never good when you see your starting center running off the floor, looking ready to barf before she even hits the tunnel. Mama Taj can still show them all how to do it- and how to be stylin' while they do it. Cappie Pondexter hit the shots when it counted, but I'm not thrilled about the shooting percentage. Yes, she carried us, and she was facing the brunt of Indiana's defense, but she showed some epically bad decision-making at points in the game. We're not going to have the crowd behind us in Indiana, and we're going to have an infuriated Katie Douglas to deal with. We're going to need everyone to be at the top of their mental game.

REFEREES. What in the world. How are flying tackles not fouls in this league? Some of the things you allowed Indiana to get away with (and to be fair, New York a couple of times) are flat out dangerous, and at best will start a fight (and at worst will end a career). Maybe Mama Taj should have thrown up on you to provide a hint of what you were missing. At least stop listening to Tammy Sutton-Brown's incessant whining after some of her more blatant fouls.

Indiana got really rattled in the fourth quarter, and I think that's what turned this from a game into a rout. We started hitting some impossible shots on some really slick passes, and Indiana tried to answer too quickly. Every time they threw up a lousy shot, the place got louder, and between that and the physical play, they lost their heads.

We got a replay of the Taj doll commercial, and I want one so badly you have no idea. I think it's hilarious they did one with Janel's fauxhawk, and I sort of want to see it happen in real life now. Taj would look fierce.

There were a few Knicks in the house. Wilson Chandler's at just about every game, of course, but this time he brought one of the new guys along... oh and Allan Houston came along for the ride. It's nice to see the guys getting involved.

Go New York! Beat Indiana! (Go Atlanta! Beat Washington! Nothing personal, DC, but homecourt advantage is homecourt advantage.)