One by one, the Los Angeles Sparks drained three-pointers Saturday. And time and after time, the
figured it couldn't last.
Well, so much for the rational train of thought.
"You would think they couldn't," Sun coach
said. "But they did."
The Sparks made a franchise-record 15 threes and had five players score in double figures to defeat the Sun 89-80 before a crowd of 8,097 at the Mohegan Sun.
DeLisha Milton-Jones led the Sparks with 20 points. Ticha Penicheiro had 17 points, seven assists and four steals, and Kristi Toliver scored 15 points.
"Once a team gets hot, it's tough to slow them down in this league," Sun forward
said. "Our effort was good, but we don't always make the best choices [defensively]."
Los Angeles (7-16) shot 15-for-29 (51.7 percent) from behind the arc, the most threes allowed in a game in Sun history.
"I can't even put my finger of some of [what happened]," Thibault said. "Part of it was our defensive rotation, part of it was a failure to communicate."
The Sparks, who won just their second road game of the season, had played so consistently inconsistent that their loss in Indiana Friday actually allowed first-place Seattle to clinch a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Yet they had almost total control, taking a 27-21 first-quarter lead by making 6 of 10 threes and eventually extending it to 65-48 with 1:29 to play in the third quarter.
The Sun (12-10), who also had five players score in double figures, were led by Renee Montgomery, who scored all 14 points of her points in the second half. Tan White had 13 points.
The Sparks' 65-48 lead came after Toliver's three with 1:29 to play in the third quarter. And only a late seven-point run pulled the Sun to 65-55 as the fourth quarter began.
But Connecticut continued to push, eventually trimming the lead to 71-67 with 6:09 to play on two free throws by Sandrine Gruda. But the next five possessions provided nothing further. And the Sun were done.
"If we could have cut it to two, the game may have changed, but we didn't and they came back," Thibault said.
As you might suspect, it was a frustrating night for Thibault. Montgomery, who had scored 23 points with six threes in the overtime loss to New York Tuesday night, had two fouls and no points in the first half. But this wasn't so much about a lack of offense as it was about lax defense.
The Sun shot only 37.7 percent, but despite a huge rebounding advantage (42-31), their defense stopped no one in the lane, particularly Penicheiro, who scored nine in the first half.
"I played with her for a long time [in Sacramento]," Lawson aaid. "I knew what she was going to do, what she's trying to accomplish when she comes down the lane. But a lot of our players don't understand that, and we had a hard time handling her."
Finally, Thibault was hit with a technical with 5:54 remaining in the second quarter after yelling "shut up" across the floor at one of the officials.
After resting her sore right quadriceps all week, Kara Lawson was back in the starting lineup for the Sun. She had played only nine minutes in the overtime loss to New York last week after aggravating the injury early. But she had just two points in the first 27 minutes Saturday.
Charles Closing In