Asia Durr, Rebecca Allen, Han Xu, Amanda Zahui B.

New York Liberty vs. Dallas Wings (8/1/2019): Recap

On Thursday, the New York Liberty traveled to Dallas to play their first game after the All-Star break against the Dallas Wings and…well, it could have gone better, as the Liberty lost 87-64.

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New York trailed 25-24 after the first quarter. They were then outscored 53-24 in the second and third quarters, eventually falling 87-64.

Asia Durr started out strong, scoring eight points off the bench in the first quarter, but she finished with just 10 points. Tina Charles had six in that same quarter, then finished with eight points. Everything that the Liberty managed to do right early stopped working as the game went on.

Kia Nurse had a team-high 13 points on 3-for-10 shooting. Durr and Rebecca Allen were the other Liberty players to finish in double figures. Brittany Boyd had a team-high six rebounds but also a team-high six turnovers, while Tanisha Wright led the team with four assists.

For Dallas, it was another game of rookie Arike Ogunbowale bolstering her Rookie of the Year case. Ogunbowale had 22 points on 7-for-12 shooting. Not normally the most efficient player, Ogunbowale had been taking more like 18 or 19 shots per game lately to get to those numbers, so clearly something wasn’t working with the New York defense.

Normally, I break down each game by looking at some key takeaways, and that’s still my plan moving forward. But the WNBA just introduced play-by-play video on their site, which means we finally have access to video clips of every play from every game. That means I’m going to start focusing a lot more on film watching here.

Asia Durr’s First Quarter

Here’s what Durr was doing in the first quarter:

And that’s great! She shows really good awareness to get the offensive rebound and get to the basket, and on all of her made shots from Thursday’s game, Durr looked incredibly quick, like on this fast-break bucket:

But of Durr’s four baskets, three were either in transition or off offensive boards. We’re still not seeing enough offensive plays designed to get her the ball in the half-court and make something happen.

Durr took seven shots. One was a half-court heave. One was a missed three with under a minute to go where the team was rushing. That means there were two field goal attempts from her in this one that I’d classify as “in the flow of the half-court offense.” Not enough for a player who you’re counting on to be a big factor moving forward.

Rebecca Allen Threes

Allen was 2-for-2 from downtown in this one.

I’ve written before about how a huge percentage of Allen’s offense this year has come via the three-point game. She’s shooting 44% from deep this year and despite Kia Nurse making it into the Three-Point Contest, Allen is the team’s best shooter. That’s a bit surprising considering she shot under 30% from deep last year, but she’s shown in the past that she can efficiently drain shots from deep. I don’t think this year is an illusion. I’m not saying Allen needs to be back in the starting lineup for the Liberty, but she’s clearly very good at something that would make this offense run more smoothly.

Perimeter Defense?

I mentioned earlier in this article that Dallas rookie Arike Ogunbowale has been scoring a lot, but she’s also been taking a lot of shots to get those numbers. Well, it only took her 12 shots on Thursday to get 22 points, and miscommunication on the Liberty defense was part of that.

On this play, for example, Kia Nurse originally has Ogunbowale. But then Nurse gets drawn out of the play by one of the Dallas players, which gives Ogunbowale all the room she needs for the three. Nurse tries to adjust and contest it at the last second, but she’s just too far back to make a difference.

Or there’s a play like this one, where no one seems to know who should pick her up:

I get that there was confusion here because of the way this play went down, but once Ogunbowale has the ball in her hands at the top of the arc, someone’s got to rotate over to her. Instead, it’s up to Amanda Zahui B to launch a late attempt at contesting, but like the previous play, it’s too late to make a difference.

Han Xu’s Shooting

Because it just doesn’t happen enough, any game where Han Xu gets minutes is a good time to look at what Han did in those minutes.

She played around 12 minutes on Thursday, finishing with four points and no other stats. Obviously, the lack of rebounds or blocks are concerning, but let’s look at her two made baskets.

First one:

Gets good position in the post. Brittany Boyd flips the ball over to her, and she’s able to use her touch to hit the turnaround. One thing I’ve noticed in the limited minutes I’ve seen from Han Xu is that she’s got some really good touch around the basket.

Here’s her second make:

Han sets the pick. Bria Hartley dribbles down, then passes it to Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe at the arc, who tosses it over to Han, who has created some space through that earlier pick. She’s able to drain the deep two. I really like the versatility that Han Xu brings offensively, as she’s able to operate inside and outside.

Han did miss three jumpers in this game though, and on a couple of them it looked like she just rushed her shot too much. Has to be a little more patient on some of her attempts.