Saturday, May 20, 2017

May 18th, 2017: Minnesota at New York

Just the Facts, Ma’am: The Minnesota Lynx found their footing after the first timeout and won going away over the New York Liberty, 90-71. Maya Moore had 16 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists to lead the Lynx. Sugar Rodgers had 20 points to lead the Liberty.

For forgotten forks, lackluster stars, catastrophic injuries, jackass kids, ditzes, unseasonable weather, and concerns, join your intrepid and exploratory blogger after the jump.

Another day, another seventy-eight cents (at least I think that’s the current differential between white women and white men on the wage scale), another night at the Garden. I’m assuming the Minnesota Lynx will provide more of a challenge to the Liberty than the Stars did, if only because they have their full roster on hand.

I didn’t expect Maya Moore to stop when she was running off, so I didn’t dare go down. Such is life. Rebekkah Brunson took off running even faster, pursued by an assistant.

I think I would enjoy the pregame dance performance if it looked like the kids were having fun. But too many of them look like they’re going through the motions. This should be fun for them, right? They shouldn’t be doing this if they don’t want to, right? The second group seems to be enjoying themselves more.

The wi-fi isn’t teleporting my dear drunken avatar to Puerto Rico anymore in Pokemon Go. Instead, she’s doing laps of the Garden like Usain Bolt on a Red Bull and Mountain Dew cocktail. GPS drift will gain me soooo much distance, yessss.

We scared off another ticket rep. We’lll miss you, Morgan, you poor unfortunate soul. I wonder what M name we’ll get next? (So far, our last four ticket reps have been Morgan, Melissa, and Megan- oh, and Chris. He was sort of the odd man out.) Good luck to you whatever you happen to be doing, Morgan!

I don’t like the new mashup for “Strike It Up”, but I don’t like “Strike It Up” mashups in general.

The Lynx are very late out- we’re at 15:30 and there’s only one team on the floor.

I wonder if Amanda Zahui B got some kind of warning about her hair. It’s tied down more than usual, looking no more beware-worthy than Nayo or even Brittany.

Solid choral anthem.

At halftime, the Liberty are down 43-40, and it could have been a lot worse. The defense has been intermittent at best. I am not a fan of the officiating, though I recognize that I am also biased. Sugar Rodgers is single-handedly carrying the team with 19 points. Minnesota’s scoring is more balanced; the big stars have been Augustus and Brunson.

Oh my God I want that red top Swin Cash is wearing, I don’t care that it’s a maternity top, it’s brilliant and it’s flowing and I want it.

Rebecca Allen has so far been the only Liberty player who hasn’t played. I don’t know if she’s still hurt or if she’s in the doghouse.

Shoutout to the trio of Lynx fans in the endcourt. You’re kind of obnoxious, but you’re passionate about your team, and that Augustus shirt tells me y’all aren’t just UConn fans here to cheer for Miss Maya or Sun fans who just can’t let Whalen go. And I see you, other dude in the white Augustus jersey. Hardcore and awesome.

Well, that got worse in a hurry. The switching was a hot mess, and right when Brittany Boyd started dragging us kicking and screaming back into the game, she got hurt, and it was bad, and the postgame reports are saying season-ending. I AM NOT OKAY WITH THIS.

The more often I see Minnesota, the less I like them. Unnecessary physicality, ridiculous flopping, and an awful lot of attitude. It might nto be bragging if you back it up, but it’s rubbing it in when you do it after the game’s already been decided.

Alexis Jones entered the game and promptly hit a deep three, because that’s the way things went on this hot, heavy, unpleasant, uncomfortable evening. Temi Fagbenle committed a foul and promptly tied our PA announcer’s tongue in knots. I think someone forgot to give him the pronunciation guide. Natasha Howard got good minutes in the first half, and did a nice job mending broken plays. She’s a nice, well-rounded player.

I know Plenette Pierson shoots threes, but I’m not used to her taking quite so many of them. Defensively, she was up to her old tricks, hooking ‘em like she went to Texas instead of Texas Tech. She drew that T on Tina Charles by hooking the arm and not letting go until Tina had to throw her off. Jia Perkins still has the pretty jumper and the driving moves, but I’m going to need her to skip the dance moves when the Liberty call time out. I’m also going to need Renee Montgomery to lay off the flopping- there was one play where she almost went into the “oh God my knee” position to draw the foul, and especially given what happened later in the game, that’s a cheap play. She brought good speed on defense.

Maya gonna Maya. When she makes a decision, it is swift, efficient, and merciless. She makes one move and bam! There’s a three-pointer, or a midrange jumper. She didn’t have to be the star of the show, but that just made her superstar moments stand out more. Sylvia Fowles got the benefit of the doubt from the officials much of the time, which was frustrating, because I don’t know that she really needed it. She muscled her way along the baseline for nifty reverse shots. Her screens were tough, too. Rebekkah Brunson started off hot, and we should have realized it was going to be a long night for the Liberty when she hit the three in the second half.

I think Lindsay Whalen’s lost a step somewhere- our guards did a surprisingly good job keeping up with her. Her strength and physicality, as a guard, are still hard to match. She took control of the game in the second half for the Lynx. Seimone Augustus has been hitting that pretty little crossover step-back jumper for just about half the league’s existence, and I don’t think she’s going to stop doing it any time soon. She’s so smooth.

We were all rooting for you, Nayo. Bria Hartley set her up for a basket, and our PA announcer absolutely loves her name. (He enjoys long names, somewhat exotic names, and names with long vowel sounds, and Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe qualifies on all fronts.) And then she fumbled the ball and had to pass off. Amanda Zahui B played a few uneventful minutes in the first half, punctuated by one particularly stupid foul. That might have explained why she didn’t play in the second half, even when the bench was emptied in the waning minutes. Kia Vaughn has got to stop telegraphing her moves- there were one or two plays where she hesitated, double-clutched, and missed a shot she probably could have hit on the first try.

Cierra Burdick, we need to have a talk about the stupid fouls. Not that I don’t love her hustle, or her ability to hit the three, and not that guarding Maya Moore is an easy task- but in some situations, you have to be subtle about the contact. Rebecca Allen does exist! She’s a couple of steps slow on defense, and I don’t remember her shot release being that slow before, but it’s good to see her back and it’s good to see her being somewhat of a perimeter threat. Bria Hartley was unmemorable. Epiphanny Prince had good looks and blew them. The rim wasn’t fond of her on a couple of jumpers, but I expect more from drives in the lane. She had a golden fast break opportunity and blew it late in the game. I like her defense on the ballhandler- she’s shown a knack for knocking the ball loose.

I don’t know what’s wrong with Kiah Stokes, but I don’t like it. She’s a step slow on defense, so instead of making the big, crowd-pleasing play, she commits the foul. She’s missing bunnies at the rim. We need her to have a breakout year, and she’s regressed. Shavonte Zellous got physical on defense, and often paid the price with fouls. I think we’re going to need her to find some of the offense she left at Pitt. And while playing with passion and emotion is important, I think we’re also going to need her to maybe not wear her heart on her sleeve quite so blatantly in-game. Tina Charles looked lackluster. I assume she’s seen triple teams before in her life, so it was a bit of a surprise when she didn’t seem to know how to handle them. She perked up a little bit in the second half, but not enough. She needs a physical post next to her, I think and neither Kia nor Kiah was really supplying that enforcer material.

(We had about two minutes of Kia-and-Kiah action, brought to you by KIA Motors.)

I was wondering when Sugar Rodgers was going to arrive this season. Her shot was back on point, and it was beautiful. She picked up a lot of loose change rebounds, whether it was on deflections, raw hustle, or beautiful boxing out. And Brittany Boyd was having the game of her life before she went down in the fourth quarter. She pretty much took the game over in the second half with fast drives and utter intensity. Her jumper was working. Her pell-mell drives were working. She would not be denied.

And then she hit the floor. And her ankle rolled. She tried to get up... and crumpled again. She tried to get up again. She tried to shake off her teammates. Tried to shake off Rosie. Tried to walk it off before she finally admitted she couldn’t go. On-site, at the time, we thought it was just a bad ankle sprain.

I think the officials were in a bad mood from the get-go because the clocks kept turning off in the pregame. They were inconsistent, and letting a lot of contact go by Minnesota. I’m not going to say that this led to the Boyd injury, but when a game gets physical and contact isn’t called on one team, maybe they start playing a little more physically than they even normally do.

To the group of half a dozen young punks who migrated to the section next to ours, started rooting for the Lynx for no discernable reason, and apparently knew Kia Vaughn well enough to call her on the bench: why? If Kia’s your girl, why are you rooting for the other team?

(And Kia, you dear sweet ditz. You are so lucky that Bill didn’t see you turn around and have an exchange with people in the stands during play.)

It was bad, but I keep thinking that it could have been worse, given how badly most of our stars played. Tina’s not going to play like that too much more often. Neither is Piph. Granted, we’re probably also not going to get those kinds of nights from Sugar on a regular basis, but I think we can get a reasonable amount of offense from her on a regular basis.

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