Four games on Sunday closed out an overall wild weekend of WNBA action, with wins and losses having significant impact on teams and players — good and bad. Here are the results of Sunday’s matchups:
Sun (88) vs. Mystics (64)
Jasmine Thomas powered the Sun to a fifth-straight win to keep the team undefeated for the season. The Mystics have demonstrated an ability to win big against some of the most dominant teams in the league, without Elena Delle Donne and other players who have been out with illness or injury. So, the Sun should be credited for taking advantage of a depleted team. Jasmine Thomas scored 25 points, including four shots from three-point range. But it was the Sun’s defensive effort that secured the victory. As a team, the Sun out-rebounded the Mystics 45-31 — with Courtney Williams grabbing 10 of those for the Sun, Chiney Ogwumike grabbing 9 and Jonquel Jones getting 8 rebounds of her own.
Mercury (78) vs. Dream (71)
In the battle of two teams at .500, the Mercury advanced to 4-3 on the season while the Dream slid to 2-3. Despite a surge that allowed the Dream to win the third quarter, the effort was not enough to wet-blanket DeWanna Bonner and Diana Taurasi, who each scored 20 points, and Brittney Griner who scored 17. For the Dream, Angel McCoughtry was the game-high scorer with 21 points — and she grabbed 10 rebounds to make it a double-double. Tiffany Hayes contributed 12 points and Renee Montgomery scored 14. But this game was decided on play-making ability. Phoenix had a staggering 24 assists (including 8 for Taurasi, 6 for Bonner and 5 for Briann January), while Atlanta was limited to 11 assists as a team.
Sparks (77) vs. Lynx (69)
This was a close, hard-fought battle ... until it wasn’t. The Sparks were just too much for a struggling Lynx team, whose latest loss puts them at 2-5 on the season and drops them to 10th in the standings (ahead of only the 1-5 Aces and 0-6 Fever). As stated before the season, fatigue from overseas commitments, Team USA participation and moonlighting might be an issue for this aging team and this is proving to be the case. Despite a few strong performances by individual players (albeit sporadically and usually not in the same game), Minnesota has not looked like a championship-contending team so far this season, let alone like a team that is, in fact, the reigning champs.
Of most concern for Head Coach Cheryl Reeve should be the head-scratchingly poor play of point guard Lindsay Whalen, who not only has not looked like a champion but barely looks like a player who should be in the league. At the start of the season, Reeve acknowledged that Whalen would only be expected to play about 30 minutes per game as she plays her way back into game shape. Well, if the happenings in Los Angeles on Sunday are any indication, Whalen cannot hang even 10 minutes against the league’s most dominant teams. She played just seven minutes before Reeve pulled her. In that time, Whalen stunk up the stat sheet: 0 points, 1 rebound, 0 assists, 1 foul and 1 turnover. Danielle Robinson entered the game and contributed 12 points, but ultimately fouled out of the game. Still, Robinson has demonstrated an ability to make actual contributions, so if the Lynx want to stop the downward slide, Reeve must go with the player who can contribute something. Because — like it or not, Lynx fans — fan favorite Whalen did not show up to the season in playing shape and she has now become a liability for her team.
The Sparks, however, have revved the engine and advanced to a 4-1 record for the season behind none other than the undefeated Connecticut Sun. That’s right, people — Ogwumike sisters are in the #1 and #2 spots right now. But LA got it done in this game with Candace Parker’s strong double-double contribution: 19 points and 10 rebounds. But, yet again, it was the Tricky Trio of Nneka Ogwumike, Odyssey Sims and Chelsea Gray that made the biggest impact on the game. Each scored in double figures — 12, 12 and 15, respectively — but it’s the defensive effort of this team — and these players, in particular — that give this team a sharp edge against any opponent. The Tricky Trio’s defensive stance usually does not show up on the box score, so basketball fans will just have to see it to believe it — with “it” being a gritty approach to an obstructionist style of defense.
Sky (95) vs. Aces (90)
A’ja Wilson, this. A’ja Wilson, that ... The Sky’s Diamond DeShields was having no more of it and turned out a performance that shows why she should be in every conversation about the outstanding rookie class of the 2018 WNBA season. DeShields demonstrated why her name should be in headlines, right up there with Wilson’s and the Liberty’s Kia Nurse’s, scoring 25 points before the hometown crowd. Meanwhile, Cheyenne Parker made it a double with 20 points and 13 rebounds. And Courtney Vandersloot returned to Vanderslootian fashion, with 19 points and 9 assists. The win moves Chicago to seventh in the standings and keeps Las Vegas at 11th.