Brooklyn Boro

Liberty look to re-‘Spark’ against L.A.

Host opener of two-game series at Barclays Center Thursday

June 20, 2024 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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The New York Liberty hadn’t felt the bitter sting of defeat in several weeks.

They certainly don’t want the feeling to linger.

Fresh off having its season-high eight-game winning streak snapped in Phoenix on Tuesday, New York will host the Los Angeles Sparks in the opener of a two-game series at Downtown’s Barclays Center Thursday.

The Liberty (12-3) were unbeaten since an 84-67 setback in Minnesota on May 25 before Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner put up 19 points apiece Tuesday to give the host Mercury a 99-93 victory.

New York appeared poised to make it nine wins in a row, carrying a 76-69 lead into the fourth quarter on the strength of 17 3-pointers through the first 30 minutes.

But Phoenix outscored the Liberty 30-17 in the fourth quarter as New York managed to make only one shot from beyond the arc in the period.

The Mercury put up the more points than any Liberty opponent this year, forcing reigning WNBA Most Valuable Player Breanna Stewart to address her team’s defensive deficiencies.

“We just need to lock in on our coverages,” Stewart said after pouring in a game-high 28 points on 10-of-15 shooting, including 4-of-4 from 3-point range.

“Sometimes we’re trying to get to our matchups when there’s a person right in front of us,” she added. “It’s something we can lock back in on.”

The Liberty allowed the Mercury to shoot a blistering 66 percent over the final 10 minutes, offsetting a third quarter in which they outscored Phoenix, 30-19.

“It was an execution thing. We were supposed to switch,” noted Brondello of the sudden reversal of fortune. “They’re great shooters.”

New York fell back into a second-place tie with Minnesota in the league standings and dipped 1 1/2 lengths back of league-leading Connecticut (13-1).

“We’ll get ready for L.A,” said Brondello.

Sparks forward Dearica Hamby is averaging team highs of 18.3 points, 10.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.5 steals per game this season. AP Photo by Ryan Sun

The Sparks (4-11) arrive in Brooklyn on a season-high four-game losing streak following Tuesday’s 79-70 loss to the Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Aari McDonald had 14 points and seven assists for Los Angeles, which lost rookie forward and second overall pick Cameron Brink to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee.

Averaging a league high-tying 2.5 blocks per game to go with 8.1 points and 5.7 rebounds, Brink went down with the injury in the first quarter.

“Except for the 2019 season I’ve lost a starter to injury every single year I’ve been a head coach in this league,” Los Angeles’ Curt Miller said. “You just have to have the mentality of next person up and rally around it.”

The Sparks have lost five straight meetings with the Liberty dating to 2022 and last visited Barclays Center on Sept. 7, 2023.

The Liberty used a 27-15 fourth-quarter burst to pull out a 96-89 win that night behind 25 points from Stewart.

Tip-off for Thursday is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday and the teams will meet again here Saturday at 3 p.m.

***

The Liberty and their co-tenants at Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Nets, have a new minority owner as of Wednesday.

New York billionaire philanthropist Julia Koch and her children bought a reported 15% stake in BSE Global, the parent company of the Nets, Liberty and Barclays Center.

Though the transaction is not closed until final approval of the NBA Board of Governors, Koch’s share should cost her an estimated $900 million.

Joe Tsai will continue his position as the Chairman of BSE Global and Governor of the Brooklyn Nets and Clara Wu Tsai will remain Vice-Chair of BSE Global and Governor of New York Liberty, according to a release.

“We are pleased to welcome Julia Koch and her family to BSE Global,” said Tsai. “Mrs. Koch’s commitment to New York institutions is an invaluable addition to our franchise.

“The Nets have a special bond with the Brooklyn and broader New York communities, and we are looking forward to working with Mrs. Koch and her family as we increase investment in our franchise.”

New York billionaire Julia Koch bought a 15 percent stake in BSE Global, the parent company of the Nets, Liberty and Barclays Center Wednesday. AP Photo by Evan Agostini

Koch serves on the boards of Koch Industries, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Venetian Heritage.

“Our family is honored to join the Tsai family in shaping, advancing and contributing to the shared vision for the future of The Nets, The Liberty and the broader Brooklyn community.” said Koch.


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