Odyssey Sims of Dallas came up big, but the Liberty got the stop on her when it counted most. (Photo by Ray Floriani/Daly Dose Of Hoops)
BY RAY FLORIANI (@rfloriani)
New York City- Coming off a road trip resulting in two of three in the win column, the New York Liberty entertained Dallas at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. The Wings entered the Garden in the midst of a five-game slide, not having a victory since a May 21 win over San Antonio. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t pretty, and there are things needing correction. In the end, the Liberty emerged with a narrow, hard-fought 91-88 victory over Dallas.
First quarter: On the road, you want a fast start. Dallas was able to achieve that, jumping out to a 12-4 lead. Odyssey Sims sparked the early spurt for the Wings. Tina Charles epitomizes the low post player virtually extinct in the NBA. In one sequence, Charles catches the ball on the low blocks, can feel the presence of defender Courtney Paris on her, then releases a pinpoint pass to a cutting Carolyn Swords. Two points, textbook precision. Unfortunately for the Liberty, that was one sequence. The storyline in this first quarter was New York’s turnovers and failure to do the little things, such as boxing out or getting a loose ball. In many respects, Bill Laimbeer’s club was fortunate to be down just four.
Score: Dallas 26, New York 22
Second quarter: I liked the three-guard set New York opens with. Brittany Boyd is at the point, with Shavonte Zellous and Shoni Schimmel providing a penetration and three-point threat. Dallas’ offense is relatively simple. Paris (6-4, 250) sets a very effective high post screen. Using that screen is lead guard Odyssey Sims, with the ability to get to the basket or hit from downtown. Simple, but fighting through a Paris screen and staying with Sims are difficult assignments. Charles is doing a little of everything. A force in the paint, she stepped out to bury two three-pointers. A late spurt the final minutes gives New York a six-point lead at the intermission.
Score: New York 56, Dallas 50
Offensive efficiency: New York 140, Dallas 132
Third quarter: The Liberty win the first four minutes, 8-4, to extend the lead to ten points. New York did a nice job closing the half strong to gain the lead and momentum. Rest assured, defense was discussed by Bill Laimbeer, as his clubs rarely give up a 100 efficiency, let alone a 132. The second quarter alone saw Dallas manage eight field goals, with five from downtown. With Paris getting a breather, Dallas coach Fred Williams opts for a five-out, no post offense. It works well, as the Wings get penetration opportunities off the dribble. The Liberty were unable to gain any separation as the quarter played out.
Score: New York 72, Dallas 72
Fourth quarter: The little things plagued the Liberty early. Not getting that all-important loose ball and allowing Dallas to extend possessions with offensive boards are little things that could spell the difference between victory and defeat. Third quarter stats show that Dallas won the quarter 22-16 and led 116-80 in offensive efficiency. Credit Dallas for making plays, while blaming the Liberty for a defense allowing the Wings to get in position to make those plays. Shooting atones for sins. A Sugar Rodgers three gives the Liberty an 82-80 with just over three minutes remaining. In the waning seconds, it turns into a free throw contest. The Liberty can seal it on the charity stripe, and Schimmel hits two to push the lead with 13.4 seconds remaining. A potential game-tying three by Sims is blocked by Tanisha Wright with two seconds left, and the Liberty hold on.
Final: New York 91 Dallas 88
Offensive efficiency: New York 115, Dallas 111
eFG Percentage: New York 54, Dallas 51
Free Throw Rate: New York 30, Dallas 22
Offensive Rebound Percentage: New York 45, Dallas 39
Turnover Rate: New York 15, Dallas 15
What Dallas did well: Shoot the ball, especially from three-point range as the Wings shot 44 percent on 15-of-34 from deep. Most dangerous from long range were Karima Christmas (4-of -5) and Sims (5-of-8).
What New York did well: Make plays in the stretch. The game was tied with two minutes left, and the Liberty came up big on both ends of the floor when they dearly needed it most.
Leading scorers and EF:
Dallas: Karima Christmas 21 points, EF 26.
New York: Tina Charles 28 points, EF 34.
NOTES: Tanisha Wright of the Liberty pulled down her 1000th career rebound in the first half. Sims scored 19 points with an EF of 22. Her latter number was hampered by four turnovers. Dallas is 3-7, while New York improved to 6-4. New York owned a decided 46-24 edge in points in the paint. Paris led Dallas in EF with 28, scoring 13 points and pulling down a game-high 10 rebounds.
Numbers can be deceptive. Laimbeer agreed Dallas converted on too many extended possessions due to poor Liberty rebounding. The Liberty had a 35-30 advantage in overall rebounds and led in offensive rebounding percentage. A number of rebounds they did not get, Dallas capitalized on; not just on putbacks, but resetting the offense and several times, canning a three-pointer.
Fourth quarter numbers: The Liberty outscored Dallas 19-16. In the efficiency department, the Liberty defense rose to the occasion, holding the Wings to 76 offensive efficiency and posting a 100 offensive efficiency on their own end.
“We were tired, but made plays down the stretch. Kiah Stokes made some big plays in the stretch. They (Dallas) are much improved and no win in this league is easy. Kiah got just three shots tonight, but her overall game is solid. We can play at multiple paces when we have to execute. I have all the confidence in Tanisha calling the plays, but with Brittany out there, we are in a faster pace. Shoni is learning. She has her moments, but has to be more disciplined. as a basketball player.” - Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer
“I rely on defense when you have two seconds left on an out of bounds play. I might foul, but there you must be careful. With 10-15 seconds left, I’ll put my faith in my defense.” - Laimbeer on his coaching philosophy to foul or defend up three, with the opposition getting the final shot.
“Last time out, I was going to the line for two free throws. In the huddle Bill (Laimbeer) said, ‘how good a free throw shooter are you?’ ‘Good,’ I answered, to which he said ‘well just hit them and let’s end this one.’” - Shoni Schimmel