Brooklyn Boro

Sky falls in on Liberty at Barclays

Candace Parker paces Chicago to rout of New York

June 23, 2021 John Torenli, Sports Editor
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Candace Parker spoiled the Liberty’s first-ever Juneteenth celebration at Downtown’s Barclays Center on Tuesday night.

Parker scored a season-high 23 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and handed out six assists as the Chicago Sky blistered Brooklyn’s WNBA franchise, 92-72, in front of 1,419 fans on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush.

A former two-time WNBA Most Valuable Player and a Finals MVP with the Los Angeles Sparks in 2016, Parker hit 9-of-16 shots from the floor, including all but one of her 3-point attempts.

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She also drained both of her free throws and picked up a steal in 23 scintillating minutes as the Sky (8-7) won their franchise record-tying sixth game in a row and improved to 7-0 this season with Parker, who missed seven games with an ankle injury, in the lineup.

Candace Parker had her best performance of the season at Barclays Center Tuesday, leading red-hot Chicago past New York. AP Photo by Charles Rex Arbogast

While Parker was putting on a show, the Liberty were clanging shots off the rim.

New York, which averages better than 10 3-pointers per game, misfired on its first 13 attempts from long range before finishing a dismal 6-of-28 overall from beyond the arc.

Kylee Shook ended the early drought by hitting a 3-pointer with just over three minutes remaining in the first half.

“If you look at us statistically, I think we’re the best 3-point shooting team in the league,” New York guard Sami Whitcomb noted after finishing 4-for-11 from the field, including 1-of-6 from 3-point range, on her way to 10 points.

“It’s hard for me to believe we just all missed shots; 0 for 13 is an anomaly to me. (Part of it) might be the tired legs,” she added.

Those legs were doubtlessly drained after the Liberty (7-7) went 2-3 on their recent West Coast swing.

But the Sky didn’t get into Brooklyn until the wee hours Tuesday morning and still mustered enough energy, thanks mainly to Parker, to drop New York back to the .500 mark and a half-game behind them for fifth place in the WNBA standings.

“Speaks to the resiliency (of our team),” said Chicago’s Diamond DeShields after dropping 11 points on New York.

“A little adversity never hurt nobody. We had to have an extra level of focus to overcome that fatigue of getting in at 2-3 a.m.”

The Liberty have been dealing with plenty of adversity themselves after a surprising 5-1 start to their first full season in Brooklyn.

New York has dropped six of its last eight contests, including three in a row here at Barclays, where they’ll host Parker and the Sky again Thursday night.

Betnijah Laney scored 18 points and Sabrina Ionescu came off the bench to add six points and team highs of eight boards and seven assists for the Liberty, who were being watched by Nets head coach Steve Nash and WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert.

Neither saw the best version of this revamped Liberty squad.

“I thought we were out of sorts,” Liberty head coach Walt Hopkins admitted.

Liberty head coach Walt Hopkins had a tired team on his hands in Downtown Brooklyn on Tuesday. AP Photo by Eileen T. Meslar


GIVE ME LIBERTY: Hopkins revealed Tuesday that forward Natasha Howard, out with a knee injury since the third game of the year, may be back in the next few weeks. Howard warmed up with her teammates prior to tip-off and would provide a much-needed boost and some depth to the New York lineup. … Thursday’s rematch will be the Liberty’s annual PRIDE night event at Barclays. The game will also be televised on the YES Network beginning at 7 p.m. … The Liberty haven’t won at Barclays since May 24, when they topped Dallas 88-81 behind 26 points from Laney. … New York and Chicago have split their first two meetings this year, with the Liberty pulling out a 93-85 win in the Windy City on May 23.

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