Liberty drop fifth straight in Minnesota
Open three-game trip with tough 84-78 loss to Lynx
New York Liberty coach Sandy Brondello insisted that her team just had to do the “little things” better if it hoped to snap its season-high four-game losing streak.
They did so for the better part of three and a half quarters Tuesday night in Minnesota.
But it wasn’t enough.
Natasha Howard scored a season-high 23 points and Rebecca Allen added 21 in New York’s fifth consecutive defeat, a heartbreaking 84-78 loss to the Minnesota Lynx in front of 6,104 fans at the Target Center.
Brondello, in the midst of her first season at the helm here in Brooklyn, knew her team just needed to clean up some things in the opener of a three-game road trip, namely a whopping 29 turnovers in last week’s loss to Connecticut at Downtown’s Barclays Center, if it was going to reverse course.
“It’s all of us being better, myself included,” Brondello said after the Liberty completed an 0-3 homestand on May 17. “It really does start with me.”
Whomever it started with, it ended badly for New York (1-5), which saw a 71-63 lead dissipate over the final 8:43 of regulation after Allen’s 14-foot jumper appeared to give the Liberty some breathing room.
The Lynx (2-6) responded with a game-ending 21-7 run that featured a seven-point contribution from Aerial Powers, who finished with a team-high 18 points for Minnesota.
Kayla McBride added 15 points, including four game-sealing free throws down the stretch, and Moriah Jefferson had 12 for the Lynx, who won their first home game in three tries at New York’s expense.
Hax Xu, the WNBA’s tallest player at 6-foot-10, finished with 11 points and Sabrina Ionescu added 10 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for the Liberty, who remained winless since a season-opening win vs. Connecticut at Barclays on May 7.
“We have to have some leadership when it matters,” Brondello noted.
New York only committed 13 turnovers vs. Minnesota, but forced just 10 as the Lynx stayed close enough to run past the Liberty, who will be in Seattle Friday night for the opener of a two-game series.
The Liberty, who were outscored 27-13 at the line Tuesday, will be back in Brooklyn on June 1 to host Indiana.
“We didn’t handle the pressure very much,” Brondello said. “Then we fouled. It all came down to the free-throw line. … We have to have foul discipline.”
GIVE ME LIBERTY: Liberty guard Crystal Dangerfield, signed earlier in the week, made her debut in Minnesota, scoring one point to go with four assists and three rebounds. The 5-foot-5 former WNBA Rookie of the Year was inked to a hardship contract, which allows a team to add a temporary player in lieu of injuries to others. New York was without All-Star Betnijah Laney (left knee), Lorela Cubaj (concussion), Jocelyn Willoughby (quadriceps) and DiDi Richards (hamstring) Tuesday. … After visiting the Storm Friday, the Liberty will play Seattle again Sunday.
The NBA announced Tuesday night that Kevin Durant was named to the All-NBA Second Team, the 10th such honor for one of the league’s best players.
Durant, who missed five weeks with a knee injury this season, was limited to 55 games, but averaged 29.9 points per game, which would have ranked fourth overall in the NBA if he had played enough games to qualify.
The six-time All-NBA First Team selection shot 51.8 percent from the field, 38.3 percent from 3-point range and a career-best 91.0 percent from the line.
He also grabbed 7.4 rebounds and handed out a career-best 6.4 assists in 37.2 minutes per game, helping Brooklyn to a 36-19 record (65.5 percent winning percentage) in games he appeared in.
Durant’s points per game represented a single-season franchise record, besting Vince Carter’s 27.5 points during the 2004-05 season.
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