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Defense fuels Liberty's win over Fever

Just the Facts, Ma'am: A 20-4 third-quarter run turned a halftime deficit to the Indiana Fever into a 86-79 win for the New York Liberty. Tina Charles led all scorers with 21 points, adding three steals. Layshia Clarendon led Indiana with 14 points, with four Fever players tallying 13 behind her. For podcasts, forceful blocks, that retro sound, untranslated Spanish, energy, fashion critiques, much hair, and juggling, join your intrepid and begrimed blogger after the jump.

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A cool rain falls lightly on the city. Perhaps this will quench the Fever. Perhaps. Welcome to the GNoD.

(Okay, so maybe I've been mainlining Welcome to Night Vale. If you've ever wondered what community radio would sound like in a Stephen King novel, well, this is even creepier.)

Mid-week games start at 7, which is a bit of a drag when you leave work at 5:30 and the unspeakably stupid bus doesn't show up 'til 5:50. RAAAAAAGE.

The dancing little kids are a lot less creepy when they're not enthusiastic. I still didn't watch. Watching children too young to develop certain body parts attemping to shake those body parts is not my thing.

Indiana practiced at St. John's the other day, but kissing up to my girls of winter will do nothing to sway me from my girls of summer.

There are Pirates lurking. Hi, Tony'n'em! Note to Seton Hall: I think Tabatha Richardson-Smith really wants a Jumbotron for Walsh Gymnasium. I'll let you guys figure out how to install it.

Enticing me with a 20% discount on tickets and free thundersticks will do nothing to convince me to take a survey.

Rebecca Allen in street clothes for New York. Either tuck in your blouse or leave it untucked. There is no try.

Layshia Clarendon has gone full Mohawk. I kinda liked the golden 'hawk effect better, but it's her hair and her choice.

At halftime, Indiana is up 41-38 in a game where you can argue the reserves have been superior to the starts. Essence Carson has 11 for the Liberty; Layshia Clarendon has 14 for the Fever. We have been blessed with the presence of Tamika Catchings. Yay. This is my happy face. :|

Our halftime entertainment has been a series of dancing children. Stop it, please just stop it.

I'm not sure what was worse about the anthem: the lack of harmony from the kids, or playing the instrumental over the vocals.

Well. About that third quarter swoon we've normally been prone to. Didn't exactly show up today. Not that I mind at all.

I think Indiana's rotations were thrown off by the absence of Zellous, the unavailability of Larkins, the in-game injury to January, and the apparent minute count for Catchings. Stephanie White had to scramble, and it takes a lot more experience to scramble successfully than she currently has.

(also, you might be a native New Yorker if you typo Minuit for minute)

Maggie Lucas did not do well at things that did not involve shooting jumpers beyond the arc. The worst was the thwarted fast break; I'll give credit to the Liberty defender (who I think was Sugar Rodgers) for making it difficult for her, but she didn't adjust her shot at all, and then she couldn't get out of her own way on the floor.

She, like many Indiana players, was wedged into a role that she wasn't truly comfortable in. Briana Butler's role was pretty much just to sub for Briann January when January was injured. Natasha Howard needs to inhale as much game film of Sancho Lyttle as she is physically capable of watching.

Those long arms, that long jumper, that burning urge to jump the passing lanes, all that springy athleticism: she reminds me so much of a young Lyttle, except with even more of a propensity to foul people.

She seemed to be everywhere. Lynetta Kizer gave really good minutes off the bench, moving with speed and crashing the boards hard. Shenise Johnson and her giant hair brought firepower from beyond the arc, even on review (one of her shots was initially ruled a two, then reviewed and upgraded at the quarter break, much to our dismay).

She was part of the lineup that made the run in the late third and early fourth, as part of a rather oddball lineup by Indiana. Jeanette Pohlen got the second half start with the injury to January, and I'm not really sure if Indiana was sure who was running the point between her and Clarendon.

There was an awful lot of running around- a lot of switches and a lot of forced mismatches.

Tamika Catchings is going to do the things that Catch does, because she's Catch. It looked like she was on a minute count, which led to the unintentionally hilarious situation of pulling a multi-time DPOY in an offense-defense switch in the fourth quarter.

She and Howard swapped in and out as necessary, Howard on D, Catch on offense. Why do we leave her open!? I feel like Natalie Achonwa should have gotten the ball more, though that might have also been the Liberty defense. She was very active. S

he has to work on her hands, though- too many turnovers and too much trouble gathering the ball. Layshia Clarendon is so expressive on the court. It's adorable. She had one pass with too much mustard on it, and from her facial contortions I was sure she had thrown out her shoulder on the bad pass before determining that, no, she thought it was the dumbest pass in the history of the universe.

She got hot from outside, and was aggressive going after the ball. Briann January is demonstrative, always trying to get the ref's attention for a foul on the opposition. I hope she's feeling better after what looked like a chop to the throat. She brings a steadiness to her team that I think they missed without her. Marissa Coleman could have been more aggressive. Use that height and create mismatches! Just not against us!

Avery Warley-Talbert contributed some tough boards. I just wish she'd stop bringing the ball down where the guards can get it. Carolyn Swords had some beautiful looks and missed them, but made up for it with some wicked blocks.

Swin Cash let her emotions get to her a little at the end of the game, committing a foul that technically let Indiana win the fourth quarter, but she brought tough defense and some veteran headiness off the bench.

Candice Wiggins is still regaining her form, but there were flashes of her old speed. Sugar Rodgers can be frustrating, but she's also energetic and can affect the game in a good way.

Tina Charles got off to a slow start, and an indifferent one. Sometime around the second quarter, she got her act together and turned into the beast down low that we all know she can be. She was getting it done on both sides of the basket.

Essence Carson showed off her perimeter shooting today, and brought some defense while she was at it. Kiah Stokes found her shot in the second half, and was blocking shots all night- she had a monster one on Achonwa that left Achonwa on the floor.

Brittany Boyd brought fire and speed to the starting lineup, where I think she belongs. She was wild, and not always in a good way. But this too shall pass. Tanisha Wright was a steadier hand, though sometimes a little too slow for my liking. Love her toughness and her savvy.

It's odd that I was able to write more about the Fever than the Liberty, but for the Liberty it was a total team effort. Tina was awesome, and Essence was great, but everyone did something positive on the floor at some point. There's such a sense of camaraderie and tight-knit bonding among them. It's really nice.

The pick-and-roll game was on point, and everyone seemed to be taking pride in going to the weak side for lay-ups.

The Brittany Boyd Roller Coaster Experience Ride: she shakes Clarendon like a maraca, throws up the scoop... and gets nothing with physical or tangible presence in this world, and the Fever rebound.

Officiating was uneven to start. It has always been my impression that, should a player be the last to touch the ball as it goes out of bounds, her team should lose possession. But what do I know?

Shout-out to the DJ who pulled "Feel It" out of the archives. Haven't heard that one at a game in years! And shout-out to the guest DJ who sneaked "Strike It Up" into her mix. I'm having flashbacks! Who knows, maybe we'll even find Tari one of these days.

Also, shout-out to the small adorable child with the stuffed Maddie from 2004.

I'm feeling good about this team. Let's see what happens on Thursday, though. Let's see what we can do with what's left of the Mercury.