NEWARK, NJ - There were times they made a run and brought hope. The deficit was whittled down and they were poised, or seem poised, to make a move and change the game.
Once again it all ended up as a false sense of security. And another loss at home.
The New York Liberty fell to 9-13, dropping an 85-67 decision to the LA Sparks at the Prudential Center on Saturday. On a bright sunny Saturday afternoon, the weather outside stood in sharp contrast to the mood of the home standing Liberty.
"They are a good team," Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said praising the Sparks. "Our concentration level was not as good and we definitely took a step back today."
When Laimbeer alludes to concentration he is referring to a mindset of the entire team. Not just the starters but every player on the team. He also expresses concentration as needed to "maintain focus and do things like make layups and execute defensive assignments."
The Liberty trailed 39-30 at the half. The deficit was five with just over four minutes remaining. At that juncture the Sparks went on a 10-0 run over the nexttwo minutes. The visitors never looked back.
The L.A. run was fueled by transition baskets on their end while the Liberty rushed things offensively and on several trips displayed dubious shot selection.
Laimbeer made frequent reference to stops. What he had in mind were the "stops" in two categories:
- The defensive type.
- The elimination variety, as stop committing turnovers at the worst possible time.
The defensive stops were not as a frequent with the Sparks hitting 52% from the field and putting four players in double digits. On the turnover end, New York had only 12 for a better than average 15% turnover rate (under 20 is quite acceptable). But in this case it was quality not quantity: the miscues came at the worst time and hindered any chance of a second half Liberty comeback.
Laimbeer could only admire the Sparks, now winners of four straight road games, and "one of the best teams in the Western Division," per the Liberty mentor. He could also single out the play of Jantel Lavender, with a game-high 18 points to accompany 8 boards.
"A post player stepping out hitting fifteen footers gives you a lot of problems," Laimbeer said.
To address their own problems the Liberty need some offensive cohesiveness. Cappie Pondexter led with a game-high 22 points but the rest of the team struggled with Plenette Pierson the only other double digit scorer for New York with 12. As noted, shot selection or absence of it from a judicious standpoint, was a culprit.
"Right now," Laimbeer added. "We cannot be considered with the league's top teams. That's just someone's imagination."