WNBA Game Day #9 / Tuesday, August 4

Sky clip Dallas‘ wings in starters vs. bench clinch

There are two things we’ve learned about the Dallas Wings so far: 1) Head coach Brian Agler is not afraid to go deep into his bench, if the starters are not performing the way he’d like them to, and to trust his rookies in crunchtime. 2. Dallas doesn’t turn the ball over often, committing a league-low 11.2 per contest. And there are also two things we’ve learned about the Chicago Sky so far: 1. They’re shooting the ball exceptionally well: 48.6 FG% (1st) and 40.6 3pt% (2nd). 2. They’re in it to win it. After Tuesday night’s win over the Wings, they advance to 4–1, looking down on the other teams from the top of the standings: #noceiling indeed.

Chicago had a blistering opening 5 minutes, going an an 11–0 run to start the game. Dallas‘ starters couldn’t buy a bucket, they went 0/9 in the first quarter. The bench stepped up, though, especially rookie Bella Alarie. The former Princeton forward made 2 of her 3 shots to get the Wings on the board. Cheyenne Parker, who scored 11 points in the first half, schooled the rookie with a quick spin move for an easy layup. But Alarie got her back a little later, when she absolutely stuffed Parker for 1 of her 4 blocks of the night. She seems to have „arrived“ in the league now. After a timid and rusty start, she’s finally getting minutes and looking like she belongs out there. Alarie finished the game with 4 points (2/6 FG) and 9 rebounds. The Dallas bench started to mount a comeback, fighting back from a 12-point deficit (4–16) with some excellent shooting (7/12 FG). Kayla Thornton and Allisha Gray knocked down jumpshots, as the team started moving the ball quicker and better, creating open looks for one another. They also held the Sky scoreless for the final 3 minutes and eventually took the lead, when Katie Lou Samuelson splashed a three-pointer at the buzzer to make it 20–19 Dallas.

Both teams went head to head and traded buckets for the remainder of the game. At halftime, Chicago lead 43–42 and 65–64 after the third quarter. For Dallas, Arike Ogunbowale had started the game poorly, but she managed to get herself on track by staying aggressive and attacking the basket with her uncanny speed. She was still struggling from behind the arc, though, going 1/6 for the game. But the fact that defenders have to respect her jumpshot opened up the lane for her, so she could still have an effective night. She scored a season-high 26 points (12/24 FG), while also dishing out 5 assists. Due to injuries, Chicago’s head coach James Wade had to rely on his starting five on Tuesday, since the bench players struggled with their shot. All starters finished in double digits: Azurá Stevens recorded another double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Allie Quigley’s back to her shooting prowess, going 3/5 behind the arc for 15 points as well. The four substitutes only scored a combined 12 points (5/18 FG). Diamond DeShields at least provided some shot creation for the Sky, assisting on 4 baskets. Brian Agler on the other hand only gave Satou Sabally and Ogubowale the chance to redeem themselves for their bad first quarter. The other three starters Moriah Jefferson, Astou Ndour and Isabelle Harrison would all only play 9:30 minutes or less.

The game was nip and tuck until the very end. Chicago managed to pull ahead 78–72 at the end of the game, when DeShields had the chance to extend the lead to 8 with a layup. But Alarie was there to deny it, keeping her team in the contest. After a successful Vandersloot drive to the hoop, Chicago was up 80–74 with 1:20 minutes left in the game. Thornton got a lucky bounce on a three to get her team right back in it. Alarie forced a jumpball on another Vandersloot layup attempt, getting yet another defensive stop. Ogunbowale finished for two on the next possession to make it a 1-point game. Dallas forced another jumpball after a Chicago timeout to get the ball back. With 8.4 seconds left, Sabally received the inbounds pass, but was stripped by Parker: Kahleah Copper picked the ball up and got fouled. The Wings had not been over the limit, though. Vandersloot would break away with the ball after the inbounds pass, almost dribbling out the clock. She eventually made both free throws and sealed her team’s fourth win of the season. Dallas continues to impress as well, dropping their third in the #Wubble, but giving another contender a hard time doing so. Their roster is talented and deep. Not only the stars (at night) are big and bright deep in the heart of Texas.

Chicagos Starting Five schlagen Dallas‘ Bank

… Spielbericht folgt in Kürze …

Boxscore: https://www.wnba.com/game/20200804/DALCHI/

Mercury make it three straight with win over Atlanta

The Phoenix Mercury are back on track. After starting the season 0–2, they’ve now won three in a row, the longest active win streak in the WNBA. A great fourth quarter war enough to defeat the Atlanta Dream. The latter dropped below .500 for the first time this season, now at 2–3. Rookie guard Chennedy „Hollywood“ Carter battled with superstar and GOAT Diana Taurasi in the closing minutes, both trading buckets and looking impressive for their respective age. Carter set a new career-high in points, while Taurasi was perfect from the free throw line, sinking all 10 attempts. She’d finish the game with 20 points (4/9 FG, 2/5 3pt). Carter had an even better 26, pulling the trigger 21 times, but it was the vet who got the win.

Usually, I’d like to avoid comparing male and female athletes, but … but … we have to make an exception for once. Carter was doing a lot of stuff that you’d see Allen Iverson do in his time. She showed great handles, attacked the basket with fierceness and pulled up from all over the field – it was magnificent to watch. Sure, she made the one or the other rookie mistake, sometimes being a little ahead of herself. In the end, it made for some great basketball and TV, well or movie („Hollywood“). Taurasi was – in a way – the opposite, she’s a different kind of spectacular. There’s always that certain type of swagger to her game that is overall cool, calm and collected. Seeing the two of them ball out was an absolute joy.

One key stat made the difference in Tuesday’s game: turnovers. Phoenix took 13 shots and 9 free throws more than Atlanta. The Dream had lost possession of the ball 23 times over the course of the game, while Phoenix only committed 10 turnovers. Atlanta was able to overcome this disadvantage with good shooting, though. Betnijah Laney, the artist formerly known as a defender, has – as of now – more than tripled her highest average of PPG from last year’s 5.6 to 17.4 in the #Wubble. She had 17 against the Mercury (6/11 FG) and filled the statsheet in other categories as well: 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 fouls, 4 steals, 3 turnovers. She was quite active, to say the least. The Dream were lacking production from their other players: Elizabeth Williams had an off-night efficiency-wise. She went 2/6 from the field, picked up 5 personal fouls and lost the ball 6 times. After going through quarantine, Courtney Williams hasn’t found her rhythm yet, going 1/8, but corralling in 9 boards for Atlanta.

The Mercury trailed for the majority of the game, especially because the bench players were struggling to get shots to fall. Bria Hartley, who had been outstanding in her last showing, shot 4/15 from the floor; Alanna Smith was 2/9, Nia Coffey and Kia Vaughn combined for 5 Os and 0 Xs. So the starters had to turn it around for the Mercury – and they did. They headed into the fourth down 6, Atlanta even extended their lead to 9. But Phoenix‘ defense toughened up at the right time. Their offense picked up the pace as well. Phoenix outscored Atlanta 32–19 in the final period, courtesy of Taurasi and Griner. The former went into the fourth with 5 points, the latter with 8. Taurasi would finish the game with 20 points, Griner scored another 10 – they combined for 25 of Phoenix‘ 32! Carter was trying her best to keep the Dream alive, but her 12 points in the fourth weren’t enough.

Phoenix fährt gegen Atlanta dritten Sieg in Serie ein

… Spielbericht folgt in Kürze …

Boxscore: https://www.wnba.com/game/20200804/PHOATL/

The Sun can’t weather the Storm

The Sun’s woes continue after Tuesday’s loss to the Seattle Storm. DeWanna Bonner, after being snubbed as player of the week, couldn’t resume her hot streak against Seattle. The Storm were without Sue Bird again, but nevertheless climbed to 4–1 on the back of another outstanding performance by Breanna Stewart. The 2018 MVP looks a lot like her „old“ self already, considering how earl it is in the season and that she’d missed the entirety of the last WNBA campaign. Her defensive and offensive prowess were once again both on full display.

The first quarter was not only a back and forth between the two teams, but also two of their bigs. Stewart was hot from midrange, draining long two-pointers as if it was nothing. For the Sun, Brionna Jones stepped up in a big way. The Connecticut center scored 11 points in the first quarter and was extremely efficient over the course of the game. She went 9/12 from the floor for a career-high 20 points, her third double-digit game of the season. With her namesake Jonquel out this year, she’s been getting more playing time and more shots. Jones has shot a straight 60% from the field so far, filling out her role to her best potential. The Sun lead 19–16 after 10 minutes of action. Towards the end of the second period, Jones was subbed out with with 18 points on 8/10 shooting, outscoring the rest of her team (6/19) by 4. She had a much quieter second half, as the league’s best defense tightened up.

Jordin Canada filled in the void at the point again, showing off her ridiculous ballhandling and her arsenal of moves. She scored 14 points and assisted on 6 baskets as well. Her counterpart Jasmine Thomas tied her season-high 11 points with a prolific performance from behind the arc (3/5). Alyssa Thomas still doesn’t seem to be healthy, but put up great numbers for Connecticut: She scored 15 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and set her team mates up 4 times as well. Bonner was rather quiet after her spectacular first week of the #Wubble. She only took 9 shots, converting just 2. Her 5 points were a season-low output (previous: 19), but she still found a way to contribute by grabbing 7 boards and 2 steals. Sami Whitcomb turned the game around for Seattle, scoring a season-high 15 points off the bench. Her performance was almost flawless: She knocked down 3 of her 5 tries from downtown and handed out 3 assists. Seattle shot the ball really well, connecting on 11/21 from behind the arc. The Sun were unable to score against the league’s #1 defense in the third, getting outscored 13–23 in 10 minutes. Connecticut had blown a halftime lead in three of four games before and would do so again against the Storm. They remained in striking distance until midway through the fourth, when Seattle pulled away to 77–58. At that point, they had outscored the Sun 39–18 after the break. Connecticut neither had the time nor the fire power to come back. The Storm were just too good that day, even without Sue Bird. Connecticut is now 0–5 in the Florida bubble; they’ll be eager to finally get Briann January to strenghten their squad and maybe try to push for a playoff spot despite their rocky start.

Sun werden von Storm weggefegt

… Spielbericht folgt in Kürze …

Boxscore: https://www.wnba.com/game/20200804/CONSEA/

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