The New York Liberty still have work to do to reach the playoffs, but one of their best performances of the season against a team vying for the eighth spot would be a good start.
The Liberty will attempt to improve their playoff positioning and sweep a back-to-back set from the visiting Los Angeles Sparks on Wednesday night.
New York (12-18) is in a three-way tie for the eighth and final playoff position with six games to go. Los Angeles (12-18) and the Atlanta Dream (12-18) are tied with New York, while the Minnesota Lynx are just a half-game back.
New York will begin in better position in the race Wednesday after cruising to a 102-73 rout on Tuesday. The Liberty won their second straight and for the third time in four games after enduring a five-game skid July 7-21.
Sabrina Ionescu matched her season high of 31 points in three quarters as the star guard shot 11 of 16 from the field and made five 3-pointers. Ionescu also had help as Natasha Howard added 24 points on 9-of-10 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds for the forward’s fifth straight double-double.
“The vibe was good,” Howard said. “We’re all clicking. It’s coming down to a playoff spot, and it’s time to buckle down and get these wins. We have another game tomorrow against L.A.: we have to do the same thing.”
While New York is ascending, the Sparks are faltering. Since getting a 10-point home win over the Liberty on July 3, Los Angeles has dripped seven of 10 and has allowed at least 90 points four times.
On Tuesday, Los Angeles shot 41.3 percent from the field but misfired on 14 of 16 3-point tries. Brittney Sykes led the Sparks with 19 points.
The Sparks also announced that rookie forward Rae Burrell will miss the remainder of the season to rehab from knee surgery. Burrell, who averaged 1.7 points per game during the three games she’s played this season after being taken ninth overall, is expected to make a full recovery from the May 27 procedure.
“The Sparks are focused on providing Rae the best treatment possible so she can make a full recovery,” Sparks managing partner Eric Holoman said. “She is part of our long-term plan here in Los Angeles.”
–Field Level Media