Liberty fall to rising Chicago Sky team
On Friday, the New York Liberty dropped the first of two home games ahead of the All-Star break. The Chicago Sky earned a third consecutive win, defeating the Liberty 78-68 in front of a crowd of 9,341.
Again, the Liberty looked lethargic for most of the game and Chicago gained an early lead. Chicago played their game well and New York neglected to execute. After the game, head coach Bill Laimbeer felt the team was pressing too much, “I think the tightness that’s upon our team right now is bothering us,” he told the media in the postgame press conference.
Chicago took a 23-17 lead into the second quarter. The Liberty outscored the Sky in the second and third quarters but didn’t have enough gas to get the win. Yet, it was energy Laimbeer felt was lack, it was the element of fun,”We saw it from the start of the game that we weren’t enjoying ourselves and it was a very difficult game to play.”
It’s never fun when shots aren’t falling, especially for a team with quality shooters like Sugar Rodgers, Epiphany Prince, and Shavonte Zellous. Rodgers and Prince combined for 14 points last night, Zellous added 14 on her own. However, despite reaching her first double-double of the season she knows more is needed to win games, “I think right now, it’s our offensive execution and you know, building trust within each other. I think once we get that down pat everything will come into play.”
The Liberty shot 35% from the field and 28.6% from the 3-point arc. Shots were not falling and there were very few second chance opportunities for the Liberty. However, also noticeable was New York’s shot selection. Overall, the team needs to control the pace of the game and work the offense more to open up better shots. “We don’t have the pace we had 6-7 games ago,” said Laimbeer after the game, “we have to look at what our options are to probably get a little more pace to the game, and get some easier baskets, which is really what we need.”
Still making history
Despite the constant struggles, Tina Charles continues to be a bright spot for New York. She posted another double-double (23 points, 19 rebounds) on Friday – her eighth of the season. Lost in the defeat was that Charles became the leading rebounder in New York Liberty history last night. In just three seasons with the Liberty, she has surpassed former record holder Tari Phillips (1,077). It is clear Charles can thrive under all kinds of pressure. However, this Liberty team will need to get another superstar if the franchise is serious about winning its first WNBA title.
The Liberty return to action Sunday afternoon against the Washington Mystics. With key players Elena Delle Donne and Tayler Hill potentially out with injuries, the Liberty need to secure the win to stay within reach of a playoff spot.