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Fever runs hot early to beat Liberty

Just the Facts, Ma'am: Indiana rode a 32-12 first quarter lead to a 80-63 win over New York at the Garden. Maggie Lucas led all scorers with 23 points off Indiana's short-handed bench. Tanisha Wright had 12 points to lead the Liberty. For bad life decisions, bad shooting decisions, bad passing decisions, bad rebounding decisions, bad marketing decisions, and desirable tchochkes, join your intrepid and irritated blogger after the jump. *achoo*

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Good evening, fellow travelers! It's gameday and Pride Night at Madison Square Garden as the New York Liberty take on the Indiana Fever again. So far, this looks to be the proudest of Pride celebrations the Garden has ever hosted. We have light-up beer glasses!

It's still refreshing to be at a Garden that embraces its gay fans and players. Such a difference from the Blaze era. Glorious. (I think Layshia Clarendon squeed her pants when they made the announcement before the game.)

I don't know if Natalie Achonwa had trouble with eBay vultures, or if it's just some super-Canadian politeness thing, but she insisted on personally inscribing the autograph. I've only ever had this twice before. Natalie, I swear I'm not selling it on eBay.

Judging from the six-year-old holding the glass, the "beer" portion of the name is not to be taken seriously.

Dance troupe that is not made up of prepubescent children gyrating in a manner better suited to the street corner! Hurrah!

Place is filling up nicely. Let's hope they get something good to watch.

Welp. That was... it could have been worse, and last year it would have been worse. That reminded me of the old grudge matches between the Liberty and the Rockers- it didn't get quite as bloody as Liberty-Sol, but the next one might.

Whichever genius decided that all merchandising past the gates would be run through one single express kiosk should be keel-hauled. It's a game that you've been marketing towards and trying to pack the house for, and you close both branches of the team store?

And you think your big solution is the store down in the ticket office? I wanted that Pride shirt, but by the time I could find a place selling it, they only had small and medium left. (But I need those WNBA Pride thundersticks in my life and on my living room wall. Rainbow-striped ball!)

A smaller misstep: if you're doing Pride Night, perhaps you should have someone openly and visibly gay do the countdown to lights out, instead of a dad-and-daughter duo?

It's probably not a good sign for Jeanette Pohlen that even with a third of the team inactive due to injury, and two more injured in the course of the game for various periods, she only entered the game in the last couple of minutes, when everything was beyond a doubt.

Lynetta Kizer gave us all a scare when she crumpled to the floor in the heartbreakingly-familiar position common to ACL injuries, seemingly without contact (it took a replay to determine that Briann January kneed her in the knee).

She proved that she has metaphorical cojones of steel when she came back in. I love her toughness, and her ability to hit the midrange jumper. Layshia Clarendon committed mistakes that might have been critical in a closer game.

I think she might be one of those people who overthinks everything in the universe (which does not surprise me, given her alma mater). Maggie Lucas shot the lights out, because that's what Maggie Lucas does when she has space to operate. She's gotten better at finding space and making space, and her defense on the ball was not deplorable.

Marissa Coleman, when I said you needed to be more aggressive, I didn't mean tonight! She used her height effectively against the smaller Essence Carson and actually went to the rack. I don't know where she was getting the assists from, to be honest with you.

I feel like Natalie Achonwa is still a year away from being the effective post powerhouse she can be for Indiana. The rough edges still need to be filed off; she needs to learn to defend more with her body and her feet, less with her hands.

But she has the build and the strength to be a key piece for the Fever in the Catchings-less future that approaches. Shenise Johnson has really big hair- actually, she's just bigger overall than I remembered (height and shoulder breadth, not weight).

She was enough of a threat on the perimeter that we had to keep an eye on her. We keyed our defensive pressure on Tamika Catchings, always keeping a double either on her or within easy reach of her. It worked. She did not get good looks, and even the good looks she got she missed.

I think it frustrated her a little bit; either that, or the announcement of her retirement has freed her up to express herself more than usual. She played angry tonight, reckless and tough. Any other player who slapped the scorer's table on her way out of the game would have gotten a technical and been out of the game for a second T.

Briann January was physical and tough the whole game, and part of me admires her for it, and part of me wants to slap her for jawjacking the ref.

Candice Wiggins scored! Everyone was surprised. Even the PA announcer and whoever handles the Cheesy Musical Hooks weren't ready. She saw more time than she should have because of Tanisha Wright's foul trouble. She's not a 20-minute player anymore.

Carolyn Swords was tough on the inside, but committed stupid fouls. Some nights she looks more like Sue Wicks than others. Avery Warley-Talbert was unremarkable, except forh er persistence in bringing the damn ball down to the damn floor. STOPPIT STOPPIT STOPPIT.

Swin Cash played well in the first half, for the most part, but again, she's not made for as many minutes as she has to play without Rebecca Allen to take some of the pressure off the double shift. She started to fall apart on the boards and on defense in the second half, watching balls go out of bounds and making bad decisions.

Sugar Rodgers was, as always, somewhere between the Sugar who hits big contested shots and the Sugar who makes highly questionable decisions with her shooting.

Essence Carson was overpowered all night. I don't know how long we can keep shifting her to the three; she doesn't have the size for it, and as players are getting taller, it's becoming more obvious.

Her shot was all over the place, even on the break. Kiah Stokes was strong defensively down low, reading the boards well. Tanisha Wright came up with shots that were big in the context of the comeback. I think at least two of her turnovers were questionable offensive fouls, but you're not going to get the benefit of the doubt when you try to argue the ref into a travel after he's called a shot clock violation.

Brittany Boyd played smart and fast, though I question some of her shot choices. You can be smart enough to read the defense, but you also have to be smart enough to pick up the pattern of the officiating; if they're not calling contact in the lane, putting up a shot with the sole intent of getting fouled is a bad idea.

I just love watching her play, and as soon shirts with font that's smaller than a billboard come out, I'm buying her name and number tee, along with Kiah's.

I will not, however, be buying anything with a 31 on it any time soon, and not just because I'm not into superstars. Tina Charles followed up her horrible game from Sunday with a stinker tonight, and compounded the debacle by acting like a jerk on the court.

There is no universe in which you'll get the benefit of the doubt from an official on an elbow after you've already drawn a technical for slapping a karateka in the back of the head, especially since that is not a recommended survival move.

There is no universe where the fans will give you the benefit of the doubt when you're a 6-4 post jacking up perimeter jumpers like a Big East shooting guard on a power trip. Horrendous shot selection, horrendous effort, horrendous attitude. And I blame Bill for not reining her in just as much as I blame her for being an idiot tonight.

This... probably did not turn out to be the best night for "buy a Charles jersey and meet Tina after the game!"

I suspect we're expecting Epiphanny Prince to be the answer to all our perimeter woes, but that's not how this works, that's not how any of this works.

Play of the game for the Liberty: Tanisha Wright slamming the door on Natalie Achonwa for the Liberty's one block of the game.

Play of the game for the Fever: jump ball, Swords versus Catchings. Swords controls, but right to Indiana. Kizer scoops it up and bangs home the layup in one fell swoop.

The officiating was very libertarian. Things were out of control early, and the officials' response was to loosen up on the physical play but tighten up the touch fouls and review things more closely. I don't get it.

Also, mop team, you are off your game. There was an area near the free throw line in front of the Liberty bench where a lot of people were slipping and sliding.

The crowd wanted to be into the game, but what do you do when you dig a 20-point hole in the first quarter?

Someone needs to fix Tina. Guess what? The easy part's over. The big homestand is done. The road awaits, and Epiphanny is weeks away. The veterans need to step up and keep up with the kids.