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Liberty take down Sparks

Just the Facts, Ma'am: In a game tight from start to finish, the New York Liberty came out on top of the Los Angeles Sparks, 79-70. Sugar Rodgers had 23 to lead the Liberty, while Tina Charles added 16 points, nine rebounds, and five assists. Kristi Toliver of Los Angeles led all scorers with 30 points in the loss; Nneka Ogwumike notched a double-double with 13 points and 16 rebounds. For mispronunciations, cupcakes, unlocking achievements, electricity electricity, roster adjustments, the walking wounded, KIAH SMASH, and springboards, join your intrepid and sugar-hopped-up blogger after the jump.

Photo by Dave Saffran/MSG Photos

Good, good morning, readers! It was a misty Sunday in New York City, as the eternal war between the coasts comes once more to life. It's a rematch of the first and original, as the Sparks come to New York.

Yesterday was a good day to be a New Yorker. The East River Derby is lively- there were Red Bull fans doing cheers on the uptown E platform as we left the station. The Mets are home. And, of course, my fellow fans are finally being treated equally in the eyes of the law.

Jasmine Lister is even more adorably tiny in person. She stayed out the longest to shoot.

We've got a biddy game before the real game. One of the girls is wearing a Northern Ireland jacket, so we're guessing they might be Irish. If so, hey, cool, welcome to New York, enjoy your stay! Also, if you can keep making defenders look silly in the paint, you can stay a while longer.

I have been informed that there will be cupcakes. If the cupcakes are a lie, I will not be amused.

There is also a rumor that Kristi Toliver is available, which is annoying not just because she's annoying, but because I wrote up my roster card assuming she wouldn't be playing and thus have no space to score her. Don't score points today, Kristi! (So I ended up using Andrea Hoover's spots since Hoover is injured and not dressed.)

I hate Simon Sez so much. It is so annoying. Especially when everyone is bad at it.

Awesome anthem today, though.

At half, the Liberty are up 41-38. Sugar Rodgers has 13. That Slovakian guard has 11. Candice Wiggins is picking up cheap fouls like they were on sale.

The contrast between LA's posts and what's left of their guards is highly amusing.

Rosalyn Gold-Onwude has returned to the Garden, much to the happiness of Nneka Ogwumike and the unmitigated glee of Candice Wiggins.

The cupcakes were not a lie. However, the red velvet was a little dry, which is pretty impressive for red velvet, as I thought the point was for it to be moist. Maddie, the Fidelis mascot, Kym Hampton, and Herb Williams are working the room. Tina Charles popped her head in for a moment but turned back before anyone saw her, one hand on her phone and the other holding a bag of ice to her knee.

Kym Hampton, you are not Marilyn Monroe. Please do not ever claim to have Marilyn reincarnate in you. You're not fabulous enough for it.

So many injuries for Los Angeles. I'd feel sorry for them, but they're the Sparks. It's against the fan code.

Jasmine Lister's got a beautiful shot. She leans into it a bit, as if she has to put every iota of her being into it, but it works for her. I like her speed, too. She was a great pickup for them; I don't know what they're going to do when they have to start making roster decisions.

(Avery, Kiah, and Tina just walked in. Let them get their cupcakes, people! Kiah and Tina deserve them! And Avery has delivered enough cupcakes in her time to earn some for herself. Swin and Tanisha are signing, but it looks like it's only for a particular group. Difficulty level: expert. And there's Brittany! She's harder to find because she's normal-sized, but she's already surrounded.)

Jennifer Hamson is ridiculously tall, which sounds like a statement of the obvious, but it means that she neutralized Carolyn Swords. Her volleyball background shows in the way she defends the interior- she has a phenomenal knack for deflecting the ball down to a fellow defender.

You can almost see her concluding that the ball must not touch her palms. Marianna Tolo brings good height, but still needs a lot of work. She committed one of the stupidest plays I've ever seen in a basketball game, just a couple of rungs below the Coco Hart play: with the ball and a relatively clear space for a lay-up under the basket, she crossed the lane to take the shot from the other side and promptly lost the ball.

It only avoids Coco Hart status because LA got the ball back, because it was a fumble instead of a travel, and because it wasn't a fast break. I'm not sure if the Sparks know what they want to do with Tolo yet; from this game, she looks like yet another tweener caught in the 3-4 logjam.

(Essence is working the crowd here. I wonder if she's learning that from Spoon, or if it comes naturally.)

(Achievement unlocked! Had to chase Tanisha halfway across the Delta Club, but I got her. Achievement in awkwardness unlocked! Swin had left the building, and we were talking about it, and one of the ticket reps corralled her for a signed roster card, which is fabulous and sweet and super-helpful! But does nothing for hats.)

I don't like Kristi Toliver. Usually, it's because of the pouting and the moping and the showboating. Today it was because she was hitting shots from all over the floor. She drew a lot of contact and took advantage of her free throws. Her passing was also very sharp.

Hard to believe she hasn't played with this team yet. Jantel Lavender came on like a house on fire in the first quarter, going hard in the paint. She took her game outside more in the second half, with mixed results. Nneka Ogwumike, no matter how you pronounce it, had no easy shots.

The defense collapsed on her like a ton of bricks every time out, and she was forced into more and more acrobatic looks at the basket. She was able to rebound pretty much everything in the universe, getting into position and springing upward with great single bounds.

Jennifer Lacy set up outside a lot. I think the Sparks were expecting her to be the outside threat that Pierson was when we played Tulsa, dragging our bigs outside and giving their posts space to operate. Sometimes I get so caught up in how short Temeka Johnson is that I forget how solid she is. She laid out Sugar Rodgers on a tackle going for a loose ball that I'm sure would have made Les Miles proud. She drove fearlessly and dished well.

LA might be dangerous once they get some semblance of a full roster back. If nothing else, their rookies are being tested by fire, which might pay off down the line. If, of course, Brian Agler continues to play them.

Candice Wiggins is very enthusiastic! (And likes her cupcakes.) I thought most of the foul calls on her were super-cheap. Brittany Boyd brought the speed but seemed to be trying too hard to get the call on her drives instead of going for the basket.

She's already a super fan favorite, the likes of which I haven't seen since the phenomenon of Leilani Mitchell in her second year. It's not the same dynamic as Leilani or Becky Hammon. Maybe the 2007 team in general? Carolyn Swords seemed uncomfortable working against someone taller than she is, which I can't say is surprising since that only happens once or twice a year.

We did not know how to get her the ball when Hamson was in the game, and Hamson came into the game whenever she did. Kiah Stokes brought the thunder on a couple of blocks, especially when she stuffed Tolo and when she denied Ogwumike. She finished well around the basket, too, which we're going to need her to do- she had trouble with that before.

O HAI Tina Charles. How are you? It's good to see you back in All-Star post form. The hook was falling today, and she was making power moves in the paint. Love it. She looked much more energized and active today than she has the last couple of games, and I welcome it.

Essence Carson still has trouble finding the three-point line sometimes, though today she took one from the vicinity of Central Park that there was no doubt about. She did hard work on the defensive end; I saw her on Ogwumike a few times, and every time that I thought it was a bad idea, she made a big play.

Go, you brave be-goggled woman you! Tanisha Wright was solid at the point- she slows the game more down than Boyd, but sometimes we need that, especially with the vets in the game. She tried to work the officials before the game, and then promptly got called for a borderline foul as the first foul of the game.

I don't think it worked, T. Swin Cash was a non-factor. I don't chart minutes, but I think Kiah got the bulk of the important minutes, especially in the second half. She looked out of it. Sugar Rodgers put on a show early and often.

She showed no fear at both ends of the floor (and I think a couple of the fouls called on her were a load of hooey), hitting big shots and getting to the line. When Sugar is on, she's electric to watch, and she and Brittany together are dynamite. Today was a good day for Sugar to be on fiyah.

Yes, as a matter of fact, that was my husband being season subscriber of the game. Photobombing Morgan Freeman with a Liberty towel gets you that honor.

Unintentional funny of the day: Brittany Boyd attempting to haul Carolyn Swords off the floor. Don't throw out your back, Boyd. That's what Kiah is for.

I respectfully disagreed with many of the fouls called on our backcourt today, but the reversal on the out of bounds at the end of the game made up for most of those. Quite the plethora of defensive 3-second calls today, too, with three on LA and one on New York (despite what the box score on ESPN says, Essence did not draw a T).

Substitute PA announcer is not GNoD approved. It took him most of the first half to pronounce the syllables in Ogwumike correctly, and most of the game for him to emphasize them accurately; it also took him three tries to pronounce Nneka. He also mixed up Tanisha Wright and Sugar Rodgers, which, if nothing else, look at their socks if you're not sure. Do your homework, or GTFO.

I'm looking forward to Maddie's birthday celebration in two years. When Maddie turns 21, erryone gets sh-sh-sh-shots-shots-shots! As it is, today there were cupcakes and coloring books.

My heart goes out to you, kid with the Parker jersey, even if your grasp of current events is somewhat lacking.

This should not have been as tough as it was, but I'll take it. The more important thing: Tina looks like she's back, Sugar showed us what happens when she's on... and Epiphanny Prince looms for the road trip, in the best of ways.

This team is fun to watch, plain and simple. I'm starting to think it's an eight-year cycle: every eight years, a team will seize me by the throat and make me love them for two seasons. It happened in 1999 and 2000, then again in 2007 and 2008. This year's squad reminds me of that 2007 team.

See you in two weeks, Libbies! Go forth and be awesome!