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There’s No Shame In Losing To The Liberty, Unless You Lose Like This

Breanna Stewart #30 of the New York Liberty plays defense during the game against the Connecticut Sun on August 24, 2023 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty Images

The New York Liberty have taught my colleagues about the power of sports and how to like basketball. Those sound like really enriching lessons. All the Liberty have taught me is that you can faff around all game and get away with it when your opponent proves to be dumber than you. 

The silly ending of Thursday night’s Liberty-Sun game threw a wrench into my writing plans. As the final seconds ticked down and a Connecticut Sun victory seemed certain, I thought it might be an opportunity to show some love to the best non-Aces, non-Liberty team in the league. The blog would introduce a third WNBA superteam: recently engaged Sun teammates DeWanna Bonner and Alyssa Thomas. They make an odd but also perfect basketball couple, each of them playing their own stubborn, unlikely game. Nominally a 6-foot-4 forward, Bonner loves taking long-bomb threes, and made six of them last night as she scored 30 total points. Her former coach described her build as "like a toothpick." Thomas, meanwhile, plays like a bowling ball, with little care for the lowly pins in her path. (Unlike her fiancée, Thomas is three-averse; she hasn't made a single one this year.) She might have the neatest MVP case of the field—having lost some key teammates in the offseason, she simply absorbed all their responsibilities, became a point center, and is nearly averaging a triple-double this year.

Anyway, then the Sun went and did this: 

Despite leading the Liberty by 20 points in the third quarter and even by 11 with less than five minutes to play in regulation, the Sun choked this one away. Breanna Stewart had shot so poorly in the second half that when she rebounded a Betnijah Laney miss for a putback to cut the Sun's lead to two, I actually rolled my eyes. Oh, now you're going to score? Now that it doesn't matter? That's really helpful.

But the myopic blogger was quickly put in her place when Bonner fumbled the inbound and Sabrina Ionescu heaved up a last-second three. Definitely guard Ionescu when she is shooting—she is the deadliest three-point shooter in the league this season—BUT, and this part is crucial, definitely do not foul her on a desperation attempt. Ionescu, a 91-percent career free-throw shooter, did miss her third free throw, at least giving the Sun the dignity of a 95-90 loss in overtime. Perhaps the Sun can learn something from the Liberty, too: If an opponent hands the game to you, you don't need to hand it right back.

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