By Chris Bernucca

July 27, 2008: Scoreboard | Video Play of the Day | Today in the WNBA Archive

DeLisha Milton-Jones, Seimone Augustus, Lisa Leslie and Candace Parker - one-third of Team USA - received farewell bouquets after Sunday's Sparks-Lynx OT affair. The quartet is headed for Palo Alto, California, where preparation for bringing home a fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal begins Monday. David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images
Hey, Gimme A Break

Sun and Stars occupy first-place slots: As the WNBA heads into its month-long Olympic break, there are some surprise teams at the top of each conference. The Connecticut Sun were expected to feel the loss of Katie Douglas, who was traded to Indiana. But that deal brought frontcourt player Tamika Whitmore, who has teamed with steady Lindsay Whalen and explosive Asjha Jones to create a three-headed monster that has helped the Sun rise to the top of the East. Jones lifted her career-high scoring average to 16.8 points with 27 in Sunday's road rout of the Mystics that moved Connecticut to 16-10, a half-game better than slumping Detroit. In the West, the San Antonio Silver Stars were expected to secure a playoff spot after adding Ann Wauters to the tandem of Becky Hammon and Sophia Young. But virtually no one envisioned the Silver Stars owning the league's best record, which they pushed to 18-9 with Sunday's win at Detroit. Hammon scored all 23 of her points after halftime, again showing why - sorry, Adam - she is our pick for WNBA MVP. With her at the controls, San Antonio looks the like the league's most cohesive group.

Mercury Plummeting to a Record Low?: In the 11-year history of the WNBA, the defending champion has always returned to the postseason the year after it won the title. However, the Phoenix Mercury are in grave danger of becoming the team that ends that streak. The league's top-scoring team is also its worst defensive squad and can't get stops down the stretch of close games, which was evident in Sunday's home loss to Indiana. After battling back from a 10-point deficit to take an 82-81 lead with 1:29 to play, Phoenix surrendered a 3-pointer to Tan White on the next possession and did not get a stop thereafter, falling to 2-5 in game decided by five points or less. The Mercury have the WNBA's top two scorers in Team USA members Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter, which doesn't count for much right now. When the season resumes after the Olympic break, the last-place Mercury (12-15) will have just seven contests to climb over three teams while erasing a three-game deficit, or they will be watching the playoffs.
"Me personally, Iím going to the Bahamas. Then Iíll be back in the gym after my week off. Iíll be back in the gym, working out."

-- New York Liberty forward Shameka Christon, on what she plans on doing this week as the WNBA enters its Olympic break.

Tamika Catchings, Fever
25 pts, 7-11 FG, 5-5 3-pt FG, 6-9 FT
88-84 win at Mercury

Sue Bird, Storm
24 pts, 8-15 FG, 2-6 3-pt FG, 6-6 FT
77-71 win vs. Monarchs

Janel McCarville, Liberty
22 pts, 8-12 FG, 6-8 FT
86-76 win at Dream

Kara Lawson, Monarchs
3-12 FG, 0-6 3-pt FG, 8 pts
77-71 loss at Storm

Alana Beard, Mystics
2-12 FG, 1-5 3-pt FG, 2-4 FT, 7 pts
82-60 loss vs. Sun

Tiffany Jackson, Liberty
1-6 FG, 2-8 FT, 4 pts
86-76 win at Dream

Olympic Break

  • Season resumes August 28
  • Fowles

    Maybe Lisa Leslie needed something to get her going. The star center of the Los Angeles Sparks had been averaging just 11.4 points and 7.3 rebounds over a seven-game stretch that culminated with Tuesday's scrap in Detroit that cost her a game. When she returned, she was beaten for the go-ahead basket in a loss at New York. But on Sunday in Minnesota, Leslie was aggressive all game and it showed in her stat line: 23 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, three steals, two blocks, one win. Leslie also anchored a defense that held the Lynx without a point in overtime. Not bad for a 36-year-old mom.
    We tried our best to get a 2008 Olympian into every picture slot, but here we had to settle for a 2004 gold medal winner who also has a WNBA title and an NCAA crown to her credit. San Antonio Silver Stars center Ruth Riley is not as dominant as she was five years ago, when she won Finals MVP with the Detroit Shock. But she remains an effective player, as her old team found out Sunday. With star teammate Becky Hammon laboring through a scoreless first half, Riley kept the Silver Stars in the game with 10 points. She added four more in the third quarter, when San Antonio took the lead for good. In all, Riley had a season-high 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting, adding a season-high eight rebounds and two assists as she victimized her former team.