Going cold right as things are heating up. The New York Liberty took another tough loss, this time at the hands of the Phoenix Mercury Friday night at Barclays Center. It was their fourth straight and fifth in the last six games coming out of the All Star x Olympic break.
The opponent tonight will be the Minnesota Lynx. Minnesota is knocking on the door of a playoff berth after beating the Seattle Storm last Tuesday. They’ve won their last two games and are well rested after a week off at home.
Where to follow the game
Amazon Prime has it tonight. Tip after 8 p.m. ET
Jocelyn Willoughby and Jazmine Jones are out. Sami Whitcomb has been upgraded to questionable.
Rennia Davis is out.
This road trip will define the season. Four games against teams already locked in the playoffs (Minnesota, Seattle and Connecticut) and one against a team in direct battle with them for a playoff spot (Dallas). Pressure makes diamonds, but it can bust pipes, too.
Say hello to one of the greatest centers the game of basketball has ever seen. Sylvia Fowles has always been exceptional, and she showed out even more on Tuesday night. The future Hall of Famer had 29 points, 20 rebounds, three blocks, four steals, no fouls, AND no turnovers in 37 minutes. That was the first time ever in WNBA history that has happened. After the game, coach Cheryl Reeve talked about the lack of respect she feels Fowles gets:
“Our league has grossly underserved Sylvia Fowles’s career. Sylvia Fowles is the most underserved player in the league. You’ll never see the league pushing Sylvia Fowles. When is the last time Sylvia Fowles got a player of the week?”
Fowles cut the Liberty up for 20 points and 11 rebounds the last time they played and Minnesota will climb on her back one more time as they look to climb higher in the standings.
For the Liberty, Natasha Howard will look to put another good game together. Her return game was against the Lynx as she scored 30 points in 30 minutes. She’s struggled a bit since then as she’s tried to regain her footing, but maybe last game will be the thing that turns her game around. The Liberty offense is much more effective when there’s cutting to the basket and movement, and Howard gets her best shot attempts when she’s on the move.
Now that we’re heading to the finish line, the Liberty are going to need the All Star version of Betnijah Laney to bring them home. Laney has struggled a bit coming out the break as she’s only put up a .371/.250/.733 shooting split while averaging 13.7 points a night. The team needs everyone to do a little bit more now that they’re so shorthanded, and Laney may have to do the most. She’s been the team’s best player throughout the year and a strong showing down the stretch would be a satisfying conclusion to a career season for the Queen Bee.
Player to watch: Layshia Clarendon
It’s been a super busy year for Clarendon. They started the season with the Liberty, but didn’t see any playing time and was released a few games into the campaign. They signed with the Lynx shortly thereafter, but it was topsy turvy as they were released as a result of the Lynx applying for a hardship exemption thanks to all the injuries they were dealing with. Clarendon signed a deal for the rest of the season to stay in Minnesota and has been exceptional. They’re shooting a career best 52 percent from the field and has been doing a good job of setting the table for the Lynx offense. Liberty fans remember last year in the wubble that Clarendon can run the show and score a little bit if need be.
The week off also did Clarendon some good, as they said:
Layshia Clarendon on time off this week: "I thanked Cheryl multiple times, gave her a hug...You need that mental space. And then physically all the bumps in bruises, you know you wont get much time off after this. It's that last big inhale before the last battle." #CantTameUs— Dani Bar-Lavi (@dblfluidity) August 30, 2021
Sabrina Ionescu was an assist from a triple double on Friday night, but she can still be better. She shot only 5-16 (2-10 from three) against Phoenix as the Mercury did a great job of staying attached to her and contesting her shot attempts. Only two attempts came from within the paint, which was surprising considering that Brittney Griner sat the game out due to injury. It’s been a rocky sophomore season for Ionescu, but all will be forgotten if she can steer her team into the playoffs.
Ionescu also has a big fan supporting her:
Shouts to the people’s champ, Naomi Osaka.
From the Vault
We were talking about Fowles up top, so let’s do it again here
- New York Liberty Game Notes - New York Liberty
- Minnesota Lynx Game Notes - Minnesota Lynx
- Liberty aim to stop skid vs. Sylvia Fowles, surging Lynx - STATS