WHAT IT MEANS: The Liberty rebound from a close loss in Indiana to pull themselves back from the brink of elimination in commanding fashion at the Prudential Center Saturday. A dominant win gives New York the momentum headed into a decisive Game 3 Monday.
OL’ FAITHFUL: Nicole Powell is the elder statesmen when comes to coach John Whisenant’s system. But showed herself again as one of the team’s most consistent players. Powell kept New York in the game, shooting 4 for 4 from the field and 3 for 3 from 3-point range in the first period when they looked sloppy early. She nailed three consecutive 3-pointers and assisted on a three by Leliani Mitchell that tied the game at 20 in the first quarter that seemed steady the Liberty. Powell finished with a team-high 19 points.
CATCHINGS COLD: New York nearly shutout the Fever’s MVP candidate Tamika Catchings, who scored her first and only basket with 1:57 left in the third quarter. The Liberty defense, led mostly by Powell and Plenette Pierson, forced Catchings to miss seven of eight shots from the field. Catchings also missed her only two free throws. And speaking of cold shooting, Indiana went scoreless for nearly the first six minutes of the second half. The Fever scored their first third-quarter basket on a lay by Katie Douglas with 4:24 remaining. Indiana scored just nine points in the period.
CAPPIE WHEN IT COUNTS: Pondexter continued her struggles from the field Saturday, shooting just 5 for 15 and missing six of seven 3-pointers. She totaled 14 points, five rebounds and five assists. But her one three came during a 20-4 run for the Liberty that started with Pondexter scoring five straight points.
VAUGHN RECEIVES AWARD: The Liberty forward took advantage of a hole left in the paint by Taj McWilliams Franklin and Janel McCarville. She received the WNBA’s Most Improved Player Award before the game. She had career highs in every statistical category, averaging 10.1 points and 6.7 rebounds. She finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
IN ATTENDANCE: Denver free agent J.R. Smith, who plans to play in China during the NBA’s potential lockout, took in the game courtside and met Pondexter at halftime for a hug. ... Newark mayor Cory Booker appeared before the start of the fourth quarter and rallied the crowd shouting, “Let’s go New York. We’re going to bring the championship back to Brick City!” … Former Syracuse star John Wallace was also in stands.