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Liberty look to get on the winning track vs the Sun ... and there’s good news on Sabrina

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Connecticut Sun v Las Vegas Aces Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Bridging the gap, inch by inch. After two blowout losses in a row, the New York Liberty went into Thursday’s game against the Chicago Sky hoping to pull out a win and be more competitive. They didn’t get the win as the Sky won by 16, but they were more competitive as compared to recent efforts.

The opponent tonight will be the Connecticut Sun. Not having Jonquel Jones this season has made life hell for the 2019 Finals runner-up, but they hope that the second half of the season brings more blessings than troubles. They didn’t get off to the best start with a 21 point loss to the Las Vegas Aces on Thursday night.

Where to follow the game

CBS Sports Network is the place to be. Tip off after 7 PM.

Injuries

No Sabrina Ionescu (sprained ankle). However, Ionescu has escaped the surgeon’s knife, according to a team announcement Saturday. The Liberty also said the doctors gave her a “positive prognosis for a full recovery.” No word on when she will be back.

Meanwhile, the New York Post reported this week that she’s been spending time with Vanessa Bryant and Kobe Bryant’s daughters.

Ionescu posted a photo of her cuddled up with the late Kobe Bryant’s wife Vanessa and daughters Natalia and 3-year-old Bianka to her Instagram Story Thursday night, along with the caption “Movie night.” The photo, in which Ionescu is holding Bianka, also says “Good Day 19.08.2020.”

Ionescu, of course, was close to both Kobe Bryant and Gigi, his daughter, and gave a euloigy at their memorial service on February 24.

As mentioned up top, no Jonquel Jones this year.

The game

This is the first meeting between the two clubs this season.

This is Layshia Clarendon’s first game against their former team. Injuries short-circuited Clarendon’s 2019 season as the Sun made their run. Here with the Liberty, Clarendon has been a veteran presence on a young roster looking to find its way. One of those rookies finding their way is Jazmine Jones. Jones has gradually taken on more responsibility as the season has progressed. Jones has gotten more confident as the season has gone on and has done well when paired with Clarendon in their 92 minutes together on the court.

The Liberty’s penchant for committing turnovers could prove to be problematic tonight. While NY is tops in turnovers, the Sun are fourth best in the W at forcing turnovers. If the Liberty aren’t careful, they may put themselves in the hole early.

Player to watch: DeWanna Bonner

Bonner was the prize acquisition of the 2020 free agency class, and it’s easy to see why. She’s currently fifth in the W in scoring and tied for ninth in rebounding. Bonner is a star that can score all over the court and without Jonquel Jones, has had to take on more scoring responsibility in her first season with the Sun. In the winter, she spoke about the roster and what she’d be able to bring to the table:

“Connecticut has such a talented roster. I watched them get so close to winning a championship last season and was just really impressed with how hard they played. You could see how well they gelled on the court. I love their style of play and thought my game would be a good fit in their system.”

COVID-19 has thrown everything off balance, but if the Sun can sneak into the playoffs, having a scorer like Bonner would go well with the veterans on the roster. Stranger things have happened so maybe the Sun can go on a run.

In the meantime, Leaonna Odom will be in the frontcourt for Walt Hopkins’ squad. Odom will have her hands full against one of the league’s best scorers. Odom brings a lot of energy and is rangy enough to present some trouble for Bonner. Every game is a teachable moment, and if Odom is able to meet the challenge, it’ll provide even more confidence as she gets more and more acclimated to the WNBA.

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