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Sky's Playoff Drive Continues

Just the Facts, Ma'am: Epiphanny Prince's 30 points fueled the Chicago Sky's 92-83 win over the New York Liberty. Chicago never trailed, putting four players in double figures and shooting 50.8% from the field. Cappie Pondexter's 24 points led New York, while Kara Braxton posted a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds.

For dicey decision-making, second place in a beauty contest, blasts from the past, E-Z Passing, a severe lack of ice cream, chicken wraps, sore feet, and a lingering sense of ennui, join your intrepid and sweltering blogger after the jump.

This is the season, right here and right now. This is the season, and we are letting Chicago drive.

Things I have learned, thanks to the antics of the Q59: from where I am, PATH and NJ Transit take the same amount of time, due to the differing MTA routes. This makes me sad.

If my notes are a little more up close and personal this time around, it's because your intrepid blogger and her dashing husband won second prize in a contest, and our reward is seats in the very front row. It would be a lot more fun if the people behind us weren't quite so shrill. Or weren't stunned to discover that Swin Cash went to UConn. Or if someone didn't keep calling Pondexter Cathy. It's an interesting experience. Not one I'd spend money on, but one I'm happy to win. I'm the one in the lei. No, the other one.

It's Faith and Family Night, so far too much gospel for my liking. It's not necessary to mangle the words of the National Anthem in order to melisma the living daylights out of the previous line. The dance routine is still one I don't understand.

I think I spotted Michelle Edwards. I suddenly wish I had my Braxton jersey. No, not Kara, Janice.

The big thing, as I see it, is that Sylvia Fowles reinjured her foot, and I haven't seen her come back yet, though that might be because my view of the Chicago bench is blocked by the stanchion. Essence Carson also twisted her ankle, but she seems to have walked it off. (Still, whose brilliant call was it to have the player who's hopping up and down on one foot take the shot? Really, guys.) The free throw differential has been ridiculous, but at the end of the half, the ridiculous calls started going against the Sky too. It's like the refs saw the player who got the worst of it and decided to call the foul on them. Also, Carolyn Swords is about to grow roots in the lane, and I'm about to tear off the leg of the person who's kicking the seat two to my left. Were you raised in a barn that you should put your feet on the seats?

O HAI, CAPPIE. Can haz moar drives and fewer off-balance jumpers nao?

It bothers me that we never had a lead in this game. It bothers me that Chicago was always able to keep a two-possession cushion in the second half. It bothers me that we badly, badly messed up at the end of both the second and third quarters and gave the Sky extra chances that they shouldn't have had. It bothers me that we had such unconscionable and unacceptable mental lapses in a game that could very well decide who's in the lottery and who gets to play Connecticut in the first round.

Ruth Riley was called upon for more minutes than usual, due to the Fowles injury, and she did her veteran thing. By the time anyone remembers she can hit that jumper from the free throw line, she's going to be coaching players to hit it. C'mon, guys. I've been blaring this since Tamika Whitmore wore black. Carolyn Swords was an immobile block in the lane, and she used her body well. And she survived Kara Braxton trying to get a piggyback ride from her, which is pretty impressive. She's not fast, she's not going to blow your doors off, but she's going to get things done. (I still maintain that my Johnny girls did as well containing her as WNBA All-Stars have.) Shay Murphy played limited minutes, mostly in the second half and mostly in relief of Tamera Young. She didn't bring the defense with the same intensity as Young, but she didn't mess up. Sometimes, that's all you can say about a player. Le'Coe Willingham couldn't get anything to fall, but she flashed back to her Connecticut days and started swinging her body around. I like seeing that out of her. It's the versatility of her game that made her such a key cog to the Sun. Sonja Petrovic was brought in for offensive purposes and did her job. I think she was surprised at being called for the foul that it looked like Vandersloot committed in the fourth quarter on the loose ball.

I liked Ticha Penicheiro's blouse- nice fit, and the color suits her. I seem to remember those pants from This Is Who I Am, though.

Sylvia Fowles left early after the bad foot came down on someone else's foot, but she was well on her way to establishing herself in the paint before she got hurt. Swin Cash was more effective from the left corner than in the lane tonight, but sitting up close, I was more struck with her protestations after every call. Deal with it, Swin. Courtney Vandersloot ended up on the floor a lot, both diving for loose balls and bouncing off Liberty defenders. She sliced through the lane like a hot knife through cheese. And we let her go through like an express bus in the HOV lane. I'll stop now; Detroit's the team to be making car puns about. Epiphanny Prince was the scoring star, of course. And those threes were beautiful and deadly. You just knew. "DE-FENSE! DE-FENSE! DE-Ffffffffff-swish." The player who actually impressed me most, though, was Tamera Young. For one thing, her impressive collection of tattoos is much more striking up close and personal. For another thing, it was easier to see how tightly she played Cappie Pondexter on defense, especially at the start of the game. She looked like a blanket. And then she started going to the lane for those swooping drives, and I sat there thinking, We're being pwned by Tamera Young. Really, guys? Props to her.

Chicago simply wouldn't be stopped in the lane. We let them drive through. Ridiculous.

Kelley Cain played one series, when Whiz thought he could get away with it against Riley and Swords. This was a bad plan. This did not go as well as he would have liked at all. She looked unconditioned and over her head. I know she's a rookie and that's to be expected, but she didn't even look like a first-round draft pick. Kia Vaughn continues to look down in the doldrums. I hope there hasn't been any kind of tragedy in her family or anything, and I hope she's not hurt, and I certainly hope she's not down at the thought of a lottery pick taking her place. Be okay, Kia! We heart you and your blocks! DeMya Walker also played sparingly, so I don't know if she's hurting or if Whiz has just not been impressed with her play. We even had the DeMya-approved dive cards out for judging, and she gave us no reason to use them. Alex Montgomery continues to show signs of improvement, which might have been the best part of this whole thing. She looks more comfortable on the floor. She's trying to make plays, even if her signals get crossed sometimes. She's growing on me. Leilani Mitchell was a defensive liability against the bigger and/or faster guards on Chicago (to be honest, mostly the bigger), and I do not know what she was thinking when she took that shot near the end of the third quarter. No clock awareness.

We're not sure why Whiz got T'd up, though it might have been protesting the Fowles substitution; our theory is that he thought Chicago should have been docked a timeout or something, because they were beyond the allotted time. Either that, or he was trying to impress one of his predecessors. But more on that later.

Essence Carson was in charge of defense again, and it did not go as well as last time. She got blown by a few times, even by Vandersloot. And why would you foul Prince on a jumper? You know better than that! I'll give her a partial pass for the twisted ankle, and it's partial because she came back later, though she didn't start the second half. She tried to tough it out before an out-of-bounds got the sub in, but yeah, she shouldn't have been shooting on it. Nicole Powell was better than I expected- she did what we needed her to do and she took advantage of some of the batted balls in the paint to claim her rebounds. Seeing her rolling her eyes in frustration late in the third quarter was a sign that the game was lost, at least to me, though. Kara Braxton somehow managed to leave two lay-ups short. Kara, you are seventy-eight inches tall. You are six and a half feet tall. You are taller than everyone else on the court. How do you leave a lay-up right at the rim short? Twice? HOW? When she had space, she hit her shots, and she was able to get the boards, but it's frustrating to see her miss shots she should be making. Plenette Pierson demonstrated how to dance around the pivot foot in spectacular fashion, and she was solid all around. Cappie Pondexter turned on the scoring in the second half, so the numbers look good, but her shot selection was questionable at best. She tried too early to be the one who won the game, and that wasn't going to do it.

A "Fire Whisenant" chant started by the end of the game. We didn't start the fire, but we didn't try to fight it, either. He's got to reconcile the players he gets as GM with the players he has as coach, and I don't think it's working.

The refereeing continued inconsistent throughout the game, though they did at least confer and try to review their calls to make sure they had the right idea. There were a lot of bodies on the floor, and we're lucky no one took offense to Leilani getting chopped by the throat again.

Richie Adubato- "Mr. Tomato Head" to long-time readers of the Game Notes of Doom in their various incarnations across the interwebs- was in attendance, and it's nice to see him back again. I won't say I was sorry to see him go the first time, as I felt he had passed his use-by date with the team, but he's the coach who took us to three Finals. There's something to be said for that tradition. Someday they'll remember to put him in the Ring of Honor. (Along with Tari Phillips. C'mon, guys, you can do it.)

That was indeed Michelle Edwards at center court in the front row, and I finally screwed my courage to the sticking point and asked for her autograph, the way I didn't have the nerve to in 2009 at the draft. She seemed genuinely surprised to be recognized, or that a Liberty fan in full regalia would want her autograph. I miss the Cleveland Rockers. They were a worthy opponent, and what Gordon Gund did to them will land him in a special circle of the Inferno. She broke our hearts too many times, but her teams were always classy. Except for Mery Andrade.

The folks to our right won the Liberty's contest and the pre-game pep talk appearance, but since theirs was much more sponsor-friendly, while ours was much more Liberty-oriented, I'll claim the moral victory. And we didn't even include the poster on the door of the utility closet!

Courtside is a lovely place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. I'll be happy to be back in section 9 come Sunday, behind the Liberty bench but up enough to see the play develop, in front of boisterous friends and friendly neighbors, near the Ice Lounge and its handy outlets. Sunday will be a good day, no matter what. (Happy early birthday, Mom.)

And if the game ultimately doesn't matter, so be it.