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Charles spearheads balanced Liberty effort

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Just the Facts, Ma'am: A slow start for both teams turned into a faster second half in which the New York Liberty took control over the Phoenix Mercury on their way to a 68-57 win. Tina Charles had 19 points and 11 rebounds for New York, with Essence Carson adding 10 points and Kiah Stokes 11 rebounds. DeWanna Bonner led all scorers with 22 points. For bad shots, A Tribe Called Quest, attempted ref shows, cheap pushoffs, Scowl and Foul, relief, and cake, join your intrepid and humid blogger after the jump.

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So it started out as one of those days, which I find doesn't augur well for my gameday experience, no matter how good the game is or what the result is. So if we smash Phoenix by 40 and the game notes are still harping on Candice Wiggins's hair decisions, you know why.

Dude in a banana costume on the bus, NBD. Reasons I love New York.

The difference a minute can make: I left at 5:30 on Tuesday and got to the Garden at 6:30. I left at 5:29 today and got to the Garden at 6:10. I had time to pester the opposing team for autographs- the Australians Francis and Madgen were sweet, and Leilani Mitchell got a warm greeting from fellow Liberty fans. (There should always be more Aussies. Aussies are awesome. {Aussome?})

Singing and clapping children are yes. Dancing children in sequined dresses are no. Please make it stop.

Looks like Phoenix is playing mind games with the Liberty: Shameka Christon is starting and attempted to run into the Liberty huddle. Or she's not starting- she was up there for the first half hour or so before they popped Bonner in at the last minute.

Shoutout to the Phoenix fans who decided to come see the Mercury while they were on vacation at the same time.

Heh. Pregame sketch with birthday girl Brittany Boyd and Essence Carson. Somehow I don't think this is what Boyd had in mind when she grabbed the mic. I just want to know if that's a real cake. (And of course: it's ya birthday, party up on Phoenix like it's ya birthday.)

Well, that was hot trash on a platter, but I'll take a halftime lead, even if it isn't much. We're playing out of control and stupid to a Phoenix team that has spare parts surrounding Candice Dupree. (And to a lesser extent DeWanna Bonner.)

The passing is fast, but it's not crisp. And no one seems to have control- I think there were six charges called in this one, plus the blocking foul when Brittany Boyd knocked over Mistie Bass (and no, Bass wasn't flopping, it was a WHAM!)

I'm not sure what those pants are on Rebecca Allen, other than suggestive enough to draw cheers from the audience.

I like this reversal of the last couple of years, turning the third quarter into the time that we shine instead of the time where the wheels fall off. Both teams came out of the locker room with a lot more energy, but the Liberty really picked up speed and intensity in the third quarter.

So, the Phoenix bench. Tess Madgen got open for three and took advantage. I liked her recovery on a loose ball- she was beat on the dribble but managed to get enough control of it while on her knees to get enough possession for a jump ball (one that I believe Phoenix won).

Mistie Bass brought physical screens and savvy rebounds, including one in the first half that she tipped right out of Tina's hands. She's one of those players who wins you over in an instant when she's on your team, but you kind of wish misery and pain upon when she's not.

I liked Alex Harden's intensity on defense, but she was not good on offense. Shameka Christon has put on a fair amount of weight since her Liberty days, and it has, ah, accumulated in places that she might find advantageous off the court, but that are not particularly useful or comfortable on the court.

Her shot has not joined her in the Valley of the Sun. Noelle Quinn faked Brittany Boyd out beautifully on a play (though I don't think she hit the shot) but was otherwise unremarkable at best.

I don't think Cayla Francis is ready for primetime yet. I know they're not expecting her to be, and that the games she starts are strictly because of Griner's absence. But she seems too perimeter-oriented and tentative to play post in the W.

Leilani Mitchell showed some flashes of speed and steadiness for the Phoenix offense, and Phoenix's bigs gave her a lot of room to operate with great screens- but she wasn't hitting her threes and she wasn't finishing at the rim.

Monique Currie brought the jumpers, but also brought the stupid fouls, careless turnovers, and sullen on-court demeanor. (Strictly on-court. She was sweet to fans off the court.)

I suspect her face when a three was transformed into a two would have been a picture. DeWanna Bonner was effective closer to the basket than on the perimeter, and Phoenix might have had a better chance of winning if she had chosen to accept that instead of launching threes.

Candice Dupree carried the load of the offense with her silky jumpers and post moves. She was solid on the boards, too. She spends a lot of time being overshadowed by awesome, so it's kind of nice to see her shine, but I'd prefer it not to be against my team.

The subs for New York were not as sharp as they had been in the last couple of games, though that might have to do with the shuffling of the lineup. Candice Wiggins brings energy on the bench, but not much else off it.

I would not have run her today as much as Bill did. Avery Warley-Talbert is going to kill me one of these days with her mindless urge to bring the ball down to her knees or below after she pulls down one of those awesome tough boards.

Avery, you're, like, 6-3 and really strongly built. Go up with the ball! Carolyn Swords was involved in a lot of collisions, but also in good offensive boards right at the rim. She cleaned up her teammates' messes.

Swin Cash helped spur things in the second half, sinking the dagger in the fourth quarter (though I still believe it was a 2, not a 3, but the call stood). She helped realign the defense to a layout that made more sense with the personnel that Phoenix put on the floor.

Sugar Rodgers had questionable shooting acumen, but went after the ball with tenacity and fire. She forced a couple of jump balls and dove for every loose ball. She drew the uncomfortable assignment of guarding DeWanna Bonner, and gave it her all despite the size difference.

Brittany Boyd brings a new gear to the game. Her passes are hard and sharp and fast. We'll see how that lasts when teams get a more detailed scouting report on her. She needs to not double-clutch on those lay-ups- she had two today that she could have hit if she hadn't pumped one more time than she had to.

I foresee a future of high numbers on both sides of the A/TO slash. Tanisha Wright kept passing the ball to Phoenix, which I guess means they were anticipating her (it's like Phoenix played Seattle four times a year for how many years now).

Either that, or people weren't where they were supposed to be, which happened a couple of times with Kiah Stokes. Kiah did work on the glass, but she's got to finish at the rim.

Essence Carson got lost on defense a few times, but came up with the shots at the right time. Tina Charles started a bit slowly and was a bit of a defensive liability, but more than made up for it with her offense. And then the rebounds really started to roll and she dropped the monster block on Mitchell, and we all remembered that time that Tina was an MVP.

The second unit misses the grit and versatility of Rebecca Allen.

I love that Sue Wicks has so far been to every game this season. Suuuuuuuuuuuue.

I think there were six charges and five 3-second violations, plus a long review for nothing in particular that Bill was almost laughing about by the end. Not a good look for these officials.

We played our worst game of the season, beyond the shadow of a doubt. And yet we never trailed. On to the next one, and Washington will not be this easy.