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Charles and Liberty down Dream

Just the Facts, Ma'am: The New York Liberty came out strong and held on to the end of a 82-73 win over the Atlanta Dream. Tina Charles had 17 points and 12 rebounds to lead four Liberty players in double figures. Angel McCoughtry led all scorers with 27 points, adding eight rebounds. For energy, copious t-shirts, choral performances, quick moves, juggling lineups, nice jackets, and the thrill of the game, join your intrepid and sore blogger after the jump.

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Good evening, boys and girls! It's gameday at the Garden, after entirely too long. We get to talk and watch basketball at long last.

Well, at the moment, we're watching the Silver Cloud Singers and Dancers, in stunning regalia. Adorable baby dancer is adorable. I guess this is one advantage to the Shoni effect: exposure to other cultures!

Boo on security for claiming a group of seats were reserved and then letting other people stand there. Also, protip to Bec Allen: never say you're coming back out, because we all know you're not. No one ever comes back, except Crystal Kelly.

Candice Wiggins and Carolyn Swords rocking the Lib green nail polish. WANT.

Why are Atlanta's suits black? Atlanta doesn't wear black. So confusing!

Not feeling Tanisha Wright's hair.

New ref jackets are fiyah. (I believe this is the proper use of the hip modern slang?)

I don't know how I feel about the new jumbotron pictures. On one hand, I like seeing players' style. On the other hand, I prefer a focus on them as basketball players.

There's a blonde in the next section over who bears a disturbing resemblance to Jenny Boucek. I know she can't be.

Way too many empty seats so far. With our luck, the Garden's crackdown on the planned NOW/WSF protests turned people away.

There are a batch of people in "I am Anucha Browne" shirts, and I approve this message. Just because I question picketing MSG doesn't mean I sanction or condone Isiah.

Halftime involves Maddie getting his Katy Perry on. I don't even. I can't even.

You don't get to call dibs on t-shirts half a row away from you. There are rows of t-shirts available. Grab 'em later.

This has been a breakneck first half with so much energy! I honestly don't remember the last time watching the Liberty was this fun. 2008, maybe? There's pace. There's excitement. There's enthusiasm. It's fun! Atlanta's strategy seems to be to pass until they get an open perimeter shot. 11 three attempts in the first half alone. You have Érika de Souza down low. You have the athleticism of Sancho Lyttle to spread the floor. Why are you turning Tiffany Hayes into your secondary offensive option instead of them?

Slowing down the clock too early against a team that likes to bomb threes is maybe not the best option in the world. I sort of understand if Bill's trying to rein in the young guns and temper their enthusiasm, but he has to be careful he doesn't leave everyone crazy paranoid. And Atlanta played more to their strengths in the second half, cranking up the defense (especially on passing lanes) and going closer to the basket.

Matee Ajavon played briefly. She did not leave a good impression, but she never has. Aneika Henry saw time in the first half, but none in the second. Nadia Colhado was the primary post sub for the Dream. I like her board work. There's a lot of promise there.

Yes, I know, the box score shows almost no statistical impact for her. But she boxed out well, defended pretty solidly, and got after loose balls. Erica Wheeler brought speed at the point, but only on offense. She got made a fool of defensively.

Also, running out of bounds on the sideline near the Liberty bench and going into parts of the arena that are not in play seems to be her thing- this time it was the scorer's table, not the bench. Roneeka Hodges saw a lot of time in a small-ball line-up. It created mismatches, and she got open in her spots, but if that's what you're going to do, you have to either hit the shots or stop doing it. She didn't hit the shots. She fronted bravely on defense.

I'm not sure if Shoni Schimmel is going to be the long-term answer for this team. Her conditioning is bad; I think the only reason she doesn't register on the Kraayeveld/Adubato scale is that she has a darker complexion than either Cathrine or Richie.

She does have the dagger mentality, I'll give her that- if the clock is running down, I want the ball in her hands. I just don't know if I want it in her hands at any other time. There are flashes of the star she was at Louisville and the All-Star MVP she was last year; the one that stands out to me was the one-armed pass she rifled to Tiffany Hayes for a shot in the corner (though I don't believe Hayes hit the shot).

Tiffany Hayes took a lot of shots. She got on a hot streak at one point, which is the point where I turned to my stalwart companion and said, "Y'know, at least once a year I look at Tiffany Hayes and think, 'there's just something about that woman I don't like'."

This was that time. Sancho Lyttle plays the passing lanes so beautifully, and kept balls alive, but wasn't a factor on offense. Neither was Érika de Souza. Part of that was the Liberty defense, but Atlanta didn't seem inclined to test it. They were content to pass around the perimeter and not even attempt to get the ball to the bigs.

They went to that a bit in the third quarter, but then the Liberty defense tightened up again. Getting into foul trouble in the second and third quarters didn't help, either. She was big on the boards, though. Angel McCoughtry brought the fire on offense for the Dream.

Late in the game, it looked as if she had decided that no one else was terribly inclined to attempt to win the game, so she was going to go it alone. I don't know if that's a good plan for Atlanta- it certainly didn't work when Cappie Pondexter was doing it for the Liberty. And it got to her near the end, when she got a technical.

Atlanta, I don't know what you were doing, especially in that first half, but if you want to keep doing it against the Liberty, I'd be all right with that.

I loved the bench play tonight! Lots of energy, lots of enthusiasm. Carolyn Swords needs to work on her catching and holding abilities, but she got inside and got position. The big girl played fearless. I approve. Rebecca Allen really, really brought the hustle- there were at least two plays

I could think of where she stole a rebound away from Atlanta. I'm waiting for her to hit a three just so I can belt AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE. Sugar Rodgers was a spark and a lightning rod- great hustle, big shots. On nights like these, I understand why she stays. Swin Cash brought the offense, especially in the third quarter, and came up with a couple of key rebounds and baskets to keep Atlanta at bay.

The star of the night, at least among the crowd in my area, was Brittany Boyd, who broke Erica Wheeler's ankles at least once, maybe twice, and fired up the team and the crowd like Four Loko injected directly into the veins. She was everywhere. She was relentless. She got a little crazy, and got a bit distracted by the Timeless Torches, but rookies gonna rook.

Candice Wiggins rocking the Knicks hair, which might explain why her mojo was a wee bit absent. She was capable. She wasn't abhorrently awful, but she did nothing of note, and had trouble keeping up at both ends of the floor. Tanisha Wright eems to be the point guard whose job it is to slow up the game, as opposed to Brittany throwing things in fast forward.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes you need to throw the chutes. And I like the flexibility she provides us to switch around everyone else in the backcourt. She brings a lot to the table. Essence Carson still needs to get the hang of the extended three-point line. I'm really glad to see she's been cleared to play without the goggles.

She was defensively assigned to McCoughtry for much of the night, during the times that Swin wasn't, and the results were... less than spectacular. Kiah Stokes was a bit more of the late-senior-season Kiah than the awesome preseason Kiah, but she brought defense against de Souza and rebounding, especially in the second half.

Tina Charles did her thing- finishing at the glass, pulling down boards, all that good stuff. She had one shot that was especially pretty, a left-handed finish on a fast break. She got a little too one-on-one in the third quarter. I think she forgot she has teammates now.

Play of the night: Sugar steals a rebound on the baseline, performs a full spin to get possession while still staying in-bounds, gets the ball off to Tina, Tina outlets to Tanisha, Tanisha hits Swin for the lay-up. It was beautiful.

Officiating was close. Daryl Simpson showed an annoying tendency to blow his whistle about three seconds after a foul actually happened. Stay with the pace, man!

Not-quite-on-court thing I liked: after Brittany got subbed for, she went to the bench with a bit of that chip on her shoulder showing, at which point T-Spoon took her in hand and gave her a pep talk from behind the bench. They're going to get on like a house on fire. Possibly with screaming if it doesn't go well.

Lots of athletes in the house: John Starks, Dick Barnett, a couple of current Knicks I wouldn't know from a hole in the ground, Prince Amukamara (we looked to see if either of his sisters were there), and Bart Scott.

A great start- and a nicely balanced one. It's clear that the starters of this game won't all be starting in September, or even in July.