WHITE PLAINS, NEW YORK – Frustration continues to mount in White Plains as the New York Liberty (7-17) dropped its third game in a row, this afternoon to the Washington Mystics (14-10). Today’s matinee, a game that featured only two lead changes, the Liberty were only ahead of the Mystics for an abysmal 59 seconds… total.
With ten regular season games left to play, the Liberty find themselves five games out of a playoff spot. The team is on the brink of missing the playoffs for only the seventh time in its twenty-two year history.
Veteran Tina Charles (22 points in today’s contest) is tasked with ‘rallying the troops’ in an effort to make a late-season playoff run. After the game, she told me that she is there to “make sure everybody is staying positive and doing what they have to do as individuals. When individuals get better, the team gets better. [We] Just want to finish strong, regardless of what the situation is.”
After the game, I was first to inform Charles that she has scored 3,000 points in Liberty turquoise. After a I noticed a fleeting moment of surprise flick across her face, she replied: “I’m just doing what my team needs me to do: being agressive on the offensive end [an] playing hard. I know the amount of weight that I have on my shoulders, [and I’m] just trying to make the game easier for my teammates.”
YET ANOTHER 🏆MILESTONE ALERT🏆@tinacharles31 has now scored over 3,000 points in a Liberty uniform! Congrats, 31!
— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) July 21, 2018
The Liberty’s 2018 first round (10th overall) draft pick Kia Nurse, who has seen an increased role due to Epiphanny Prince’s injury, has been consistent for the Liberty. Amanda Zahui B, a transplant from the Dallas Wings (in exchange for a 2017 Liberty draft pick), has also stepped up for her team. Charles singled out those two players, specifically, telling me: “Kia Nurse, coming in as a rookie, it’s hard to translate your game with what you did at the collegiate level [to the professional level]. I think Zahui B has just been outstanding just overall. Uplifing us energy-wise there’s a lot of positive coming out of both of those players when they step out on the court.” As Coach Katie Smith stated in her post-game press conference, “opportunities are there to be had. What you do what those minutes on the floor will dictate how long you’re going to be in the ballgame”.
Nurse took lemons and made lemonade this afternoon. In 21:52 on the court, she posted 10 points, shot 50% from the field, and managed one steal and one defensive rebound. Coach Smith had nothing but praise for her efforts after the game: “Her defense is always going to be good. She’s always out there battling, she gets fouls called on the other team, flying around on [defense]. She knocked down some shots tonight. I think she’s had a nice, little stretch… three or four games… putting the ball on the floor, knocking down some three balls, she just needs to continue to read the defense, [and] take what they give her. I think her approach every night is very consistent… We know what we are going to get from her every night. We know the effort and energy that she’s going to play with.”
It did not help the Liberty’s cause that Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne, the game’s high scorer (30 points), posted an impressive 75% field goal percentage. “Just after the last game, I knew I needed to be better for my team. The percentages tell you that [when] you have an off-night, the next one is going to be pretty good. So, I knew that I just needed to attack from the start, not even think about the last game, and know that we needed a really good performance and we needed a win. Our offense was just smooth today. At different times, people took over and we were able to space… the floor and make it tough for them to just focus in on a couple players.”
At the half, I noted that Delle Donne had scored more points than the top two Liberty scorers… combined.
— Danielle McCartan (@CoachMcCartan) July 21, 2018
Today, Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne lead all scorers with 30 points, despite resting on the bench for about half of the second quarter. On July 15, 2018, Delle Donne reached the 3,000 point milestone quicker than any player in WNBA history. She completed the feat in 148 games, as compared to the 151 games of former record holders of Diana Taurasi and Seimone Augustus.
Will Delle-Dominance become the WNBA’s highest all-time scorer by the end of her hall-of-fame worthy career? “That’s too far down the road to ever even predict. I just have to stay healthy and try to play the best I can for my team. She’s got so many records-she’s super impressive. I’ve loved her- I watched her when she was in college, all the way up.” When I asked if Delle Donne was going to pick Taurasi’s brain at the 2018 All Star game (Delle Donne picked Taurasi to play on her team), she replied, with a laugh: “of course…. and to hear her jokes, she’s so funny!”
Another day, another EDD record.
— Washington Mystics (@WashMystics) July 22, 2018
— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) July 21, 2018
The Liberty will look to end their three-game skid on Tuesday in Minnesota against the Lynx. The Mystics will look to begin a new win-streak on Tuesday in Connecticut against the Sun.