Progress is not always a straight line. The Liberty can affirm that. After a bell-ringer of a season opener vs. the Connecticut Sun at Barclays Center, New York lost seven straight in May before turning things around in June, going 7-4. So far, in July, the Libs have won only one out of four games but along the way, the Liberty are learning more and more about themselves. Their offense can be stunning, record-setting.
In just the last four games, New York has set records with the highest scoring game in league history on July 6 in their huge, 116-107 win over the Las Vegas Aces in Vegas. Then, Tuesday night at Barclays Center, they racked up the highest scoring half (73 points) in WNBA history, also against the Aces. The Liberty came back from a 24-point halftime deficit but ultimately lost, 107-101.
Leading the charge, of course, has been MVP candidate Sabrina Ionescu who in that same stretch had the highest scoring triple-double in league history with a 31/12/10 game in the first Aces game, then a record-setting 27-point second half in their valiant comeback Tuesday.
So does more history beckon this morning (!) when for the third time in four games? it’s Brooklyn vs. Las Vegas at Barclays.
Where to follow the game
The game will be on both YES Network and NBA TV. Tip-off is after 11:00 a.m. ET.
No Betnijah Laney or Jocelyn Willoughby. Getting closer but still out.
Nothing to report for the Aces.
With this being the two teams third game in eight days, there’s not mystery about the match-up other than prepare to run ... again. As noted above, the first two games in this series have been barn-burners with records being set in both contests. Expect no less Thursday morning but then again, it is a morning game and it takes some time to get that morning coffee moving through the system.
The Aces are the runningest team in the WNBA, but the Liberty have proven that they can keep up with Ionescu leading the charge. For Vegas, high scoring games don’t necessarily mean wins. In their last eight games, they are 3-5.
For the Liberty, they will once again rely on Ionescu who has had a phenomenal month already, being named Player of the Month and Week, winning the Skills Competition at WNBA All-Star Weekend, then being part of the winning team in the All-Star game in Chicago.
Should she rack up another triple-double, she would hold the WNBA record for most TDs ... ever. Right now, she’s at three, tied with Candace Parker. And every time, she takes the court she is a threat. She is not alone however.
Natasha Howard also 20 points and 11 rebounds two days ago. New York also received a boost from reserve guard Sami Whitcomb, whose 15-point third quarter ignited the Liberty offense and set things up for the big fourth. She finished with 17 points. They were the only Liberty players in double figures, however.
For the Aces, it’s Kelsey Plum who’s been the star. The MVP of the WNBA All-Star Game over the weekend, she had 27 points vs. the Liberty Tuesday while Jackie Young and A’ja Wilson added 23 points apiece. Plum however hasn’t been happy with her team’s overall effort. “I thought that we had some really good stretches,” said of Tuesday’s game, “But we’re still yet to string together 40 minutes of good basketball.”
The game will have one other cool element. Thursday is “Camp Day” for the Liberty. Between 12 and 25 busloads of campers will be brought to the game to provide some extra cheering.
Player to watch: Kelsey Plum
For the Aces, the 5’8” Plum is ALWAYS the player to watch. Like Ionescu, Plum is a verifiable MVP candidate. She was the MVP of the All-Star game Sunday with a silky smooth 30 points on 12-18 from the field. Plum is absolutely electric from 3-point range and can make opponents pay off the dribble as well. In the two games vs. the Liberty, she’s scored 18 and 27.
Becky Hammon, the former Liberty great who’s head coach of the Aces, is heavily reliant on Plum and admits it. Whether that will burn out Plum over the long haul is a question, but as Plum has said, she put in a lot of time over the winter improving her strength and conditioning.
From the Vault
It’s an early start so we offer Travis Scott’s “Wake Up.”
- New York Liberty Game Notes - New York Liberty
- Las Vegas Aces Game Notes - Las Vegas Aces
- Aces, Liberty set for another clash, this one a matinee - STATS