Every so often, you let go of the rope. The adrenaline after you assert your dominance starts to wear off and everything enters into a lull. You become more vulnerable once you start to get comfortable and ease up on the pressure. And next thing you know, your opponent is ready to strike.
We'll start at the end of regulation. After allowing a 20-point lead to trickle down to three, the New York Liberty needed one stop to escape with a win. Unfortunately for them, Aliyah Boston had other ideas...
ALIYAH BOSTON BUZZER-BEATER TO FORCE OT‼️ pic.twitter.com/WAoBAYW5pE— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 12, 2023
And just like that, the Liberty’s massive lead was gone and the Indiana Fever got it to overtime. In the fourth quarter, the Liberty went completely cold from the field as they went 2-of-15 from the field. They were able to survive thanks to a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line. Indiana’s run was powered by the great play of Boston.
Throughout the season, there have been complaints from fans that Boston doesn’t get the ball enough in the fourth quarter. By the numbers, that’s proven to be right. Today was a change of pace as AB went 4-of-6 from the field in the fourth to treat the Camp Day kids to free basketball. After the game, Sandy Brondello was effusive in her praise of the number one pick.
Sandy Brondello on Aliyah Boston: "Her game's suited to the pros. We tried to throw some traps at her, but she was triple teamed in college. She's really skilled, she rebounds really well -- she's a handful, and she'll just get better and better." (Q: @FiifiFrimpong)— Myles (@MylesEhrlich) July 12, 2023
Luckily for NY, their former number one pick was here to save the day. Sabrina Ionescu was the Liberty’s best player today and once the game moved into OT, she got down to business immediately
And when the Fever got the deficit back down to one point, Sabrina hit what turned out to be the dagger:
That three helped New York escape Indiana with a 95-87 victory. The Liberty are now 14-4 on the season, good for second overall in the WNBA standings.
How good was Ionescu tonight? She made a little more history along the way
A big game to seal the win for @sabrina_i20:— Across the Timeline (@WBBTimeline) July 12, 2023
It's her 3rd WNBA regular season game with 30+ PTS, 5+ 3PM, 5+ REB, and 5+ AST, trailing only Diana Taurasi (8) all-time.https://t.co/LX2Q2ja8Pp
Pretty, pretty, pretty good!
Basketball is a game of endurance, and when you train well, the results will be there when the lights are brightest. T
"I'm not tired, so that's really what it is. We push ourselves in practice. The goal is to be the best-conditioned team, and that's something that we take pride in."— New York Liberty Videos (@SNYLiberty) July 12, 2023
Sabrina Ionescu talks about maintaining her energy in overtime: pic.twitter.com/GS5Zz1GAwK
With the win, the Liberty earn themselves a date with the Las Vegas Aces in Vegas on August 15 for the Commissioner’s Cup final. As we draw closer to the Cup final, the Liberty have some things to clean up, first of which being turnovers. You can have the best offensive players of all time, but if you don’t make the most out of every possession, teams will make you pay for it.
As the Liberty head into the break, a lot of their players could stand to use some rest. First up on that list is Marine Johannes. MJ got plenty of good looks, but went 0-of-5 from the field as her slump continues. Sandy Brondello and the coaching staff have continued to support and uplift Johannes, and it’s only a matter of time before she’s back to normal.
When things did work well for the Liberty, they were able to move the ball and get downhill.
Although New York turned the ball over 22 times, they did hand out 27 assists. The teamwork and chemistry on offense has shown itself for much of this season and with the schedule getting harder from her, it’s something they can lean on.
Jonquel Jones got into some early foul trouble, which led to Nyara Sabally getting in to the game a lot earlier than usual. Due to Han Xu and Stefanie Dolson’s injuries, this is the perfect opportunity for Sabally to make some waves. She looked assertive on offense
and made a bunch of positive contributions on defense
Jonquel Jones spoke about Sabally’s play and said:
“[Nyara’s] been playing amazing, getting downhill, affecting the rebounding, getting on the boards. We need that from her every night. And we try to pour into her to let her know that she can do that every night and we expect that.”
Sabally has maintained her confidence and is getting better and better by the day. Now that we are heading into a more jam packed part of the schedule, we’ll see if Sabally gets more playing time.
Speaking of confidence, Jonquel Jones kept at it even though she had three first quarter fouls. JJ wound up with 12 points, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block in just 21 minutes. She’s started to look like herself, and the goal is to keep stacking good days together. And when you can do it in style, even better
Play hard, have fun, and good things will follow!
The Liberty get a well deserved week off before getting back to action on the 19th against the Dallas Wings. Camp Day game so the party’s getting started at 1:00 p.m. ET.