No Spark In Fourth, Liberty Fall to Los Angeles
It was a battle for three quarters between the New York Liberty and Los Angeles Sparks, but in the fourth, New York went cold and Los Angeles (8-11), led by Candace Parker, won going away 68-54. This marked the second straight loss for the Liberty who were without the services of Cappie Pondexter for most of the second half.
Liberty head coach, Bill Laimbeer summarized, “I thought this was a loss that we just took. We didn’t have the firepower on the offensive end to get it done. Part of it was Cappie wasn’t able to go because of an injury last (San Antonio) game.
Tina Charles, coming off a Player of the Week award, led the scoring for New York with 20, but outside of Alex Montgomery got little offensive support. The recent trade for Swin Cash resulted in a short two basket sprint but even Swin could not make up for a fourth quarter where the Liberty (7-13) scored a grand total of four points. Bill Laimbeer lamented what he saw as a lack of smarts rearing its ugly head again. It was the main reason Bill wanted Cash before the season began.
“You can’t get enough players who understand how to play basketball,” Bill explained. “She brings a solid basketball mind and that’s what we need.”
The opening quarter was a scoring duel between Charles (8) and the Sparks Nneka Ogwumike (9). But Alex Montgomery’s shooting, which tallied five early on, kept the Liberty above water at 20-17. But, the second quarter was a nose dive as Candace Parker started heating up for LA, driving for nifty layups often. Shooting at a 50% clip, the Sparks outscored New York 25-13 taking a nine point lead to the half.
As the third quarter progressed, the Liberty chipped away with Montgomery hitting a big three which got her up to ten at that point and with Plenette Pierson hitting a critical layup it was suddenly 52-48. But it started to go quiet from there. Jantel Lavender joined Candace and Nneka in pushing it back to a six point Sparks lead going into the final stanza.
Cappie was far from pleased that this pattern continues.
“We have to stop beating up on ourselves,” Cappie remarked. “We’re in the games and competing and then for some reason we put our heads down and dont fight back, dont punch back. That’s just been our character all year long.”
The defense of the Liberty was stubborn but shots started to rim out and the offense lost its flow. Los Angeles’ athleticism took over and Parker’s swooping one handed scoop layup made it a ten point deficit and the Sparks ran it out from there.
Tina Charles was confounded by the lack of need for victory.
“You want to win every game but we need to have a better sense of urgency,” Charles pointed out. “We’re professionals-that’s why we’re in this league. We definitely could’ve won this game.”
Candace Parker, whose Sparks team has struggled as much as New York, was happy for the win.
“I think it was obvious this was a grind it out game,” Parker recalled. “But I’m proud that we were able to come out with the win.”
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