The New York Liberty had a good chance of getting back into the win column on Wednesday against the Chicago Sky, taking a small lead into the fourth quarter. But then they allowed the Sky to scored 42 points in that fourth quarter en route to a 101-92 win for Chicago. The Liberty fall to 8-14 on the season and are on a four-game losing streak.
But even with the loss, this was an encouraging game for the Liberty. Tina Charles shot 55% from the floor, her second game in a row shooting over 40% from the floor after a six-game stretch of not doing so. Amanda Zahui B grabbed nine rebounds, though she left the game with an apparent head injury and didn’t return for the fourth quarter.
Marine Johannès was perfect from the field for the second time all season, scoring 16 points on 6-for-6 shooting, while Rebecca Allen scored 21 points while going 6-for-11 from deep.
Still, the game was defined by a collapse defensively in the fourth, as the team let Chicago score the aforementioned 42 points. Allie Quigley and Courtney Vandersloot combined for 20 points in the quarter, and while the Liberty mounted a late attempt to close the gap, Chicago had just enough fire power (and a 20-for-23 mark from the free throw line in the quarter, as the Liberty started intentionally fouling early) to close it out.
Let’s look at some key takeaways from this one.
Brittany Boyd Doesn’t Play
You knew when the Liberty demoted point guard Brittany Boyd to the bench that her days as the team’s starting point guard were likely numbered, but I think the expectation was that she’d remain the team’s backup point guard.
Well, the problem with that is that after EuroBasket and the return of Bria Hartley and the addition of Johannès, the team had five guards who needed to occupy two slots. It was fine for a little bit while Asia Durr was dealing with a groin injury, but Durr’s return to the starting lineup meant that Hartley was back on the bench. Both her and Boyd work best playing a point guard role, so having them share bench minutes was going to be tough.
It looks like head coach Katie Smith solved that issue on Thursday by deciding that Hartley would be the backup point guard and Boyd wouldn’t play. I saw some debate online about whether or not this was the right choice because of Boyd’s defense being more useful than Hartley’s, but it’s the choice Smith made and it looked like a good call. By shortening the guard rotation, you allow the players who are playing to get more in rhythm, and you also start to establish some needed consistency. Katie Smith’s rotations have been confusing at times this year, largely because she has a lot of depth pieces and has been trying to get them all some run.
Johannès Needs More Minutes
Here’ a wild stat:
Johannès is a rookie. She’s played just seven games. This is an incredibly small sample size.
But, those seven games have been exciting, and Johannès very much looks like a player who needs to be on the court more than 15 minutes per game.
The issue, though, is that because neither Durr nor Johannès are really in spots where they can play the one right now, Smith has to pick between the two of them for minutes at the two. Maybe we could see more lineups with Kia Nurse initiating the offense and the other two playing the two and three, but that might present too many matchup issues.
It’s a tough situation to solve, but the Liberty have to find a way to get Johannès on the floor for 20 minutes per night.
Rebecca Allen For Three!
Allen made six threes.
I don’t have much to say about this other than what I already tweeted:
This is a true statement. Allen playing more at the four can really stretch things out and make life easier for Tina Charles inside and for New York’s guards. More Rebecca Allen!