By Chris Bernucca

Aug. 29, 2008: Scoreboard | Video Play of the Day | Today in the WNBA Archive

Call this one "Donna and The Doc." WNBA President Donna Orender, one day after an online chat with fans, poses with legendary NBA star Julius Erving at the Atlanta Dream's "Dream Pink/Women In Inspiration" night Friday at Philips Arena. Too bad they didn't see a better game.
Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images
Playoff-Bound Sun Second To None

Connecticut Clinches Postseason Berth: The Olympic break could not have come at a worse time for the Connecticut Sun. They had just won three straight games to move into first place in the Eastern Conference and wanted to keep their momentum going. Despite a month off, however, the Sun have done just that, winning a pair of road games by a combined 52 points. The wins had a similar MO - strong play from Tamika Whitmore and huge second quarter. In Thursday's win at Indiana, Whitmore scored 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting and Connecticut held a 30-10 advantage in the second period. On Friday in Atlanta, it was more of the same as Whitmore racked up 27 on 11-of-16 from the field and the Sun owned a 29-17 bulge in the second quarter. The Sun improved to a league-best 8-7 on the road and have won five in a row overall, matching their longest streak of the season. More important, they secured their sixth straight berth in the WNBA playoffs. "We picked off where we left off," Sun coach Mike Thibault said. "We're recharged now and ready to finish this season."

Taj and Tasha debut with new teams: With Cheryl Ford out for the season, the Detroit Shock needed an accomplished frontcourt player to remain a serious championship contender. During the Olympic break, they swung a deal with the Washington Mystics, acquiring veteran center Taj McWilliams-Franklin for rookie Tasha Humphrey, second-year player Shay Murphy and a 2009 second-round pick. Although the players looked a bit unfamiliar in their new duds, both McWilliams-Franklin and Humphrey played well in their first games with their new teams. Taj started at forward and totaled 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists in Detroit's win over New York. Tasha came off the bench and collected 11 points, nine rebounds, two steals and two assists in Washington's loss to Chicago. The ideal trades are the ones that help both teams. On first blush, this one seems to meet that requirement.
"We are in every game and one quarter kills us. I would venture to say that out of the 12 games we lost, 11 of them are because of the third quarter and we can't continue to put ourselves in a hole like that."

-- Liberty coach Pat Coyle, whose team was outscored, 31-14, in the third quarter of Friday's loss at Detroit. New York is averaging just 15.9 points in the third quarter of its losses this season.

Tamika Whitmore, Sun
27 pts, 11-16 FG, 3-3 3-pt FG
98-72 win at Dream

Deanna Nolan, Shock
26 pts, 11-17 FG, 2-4 3-pt FG
83-69 win vs. Liberty

Sylvia Fowles, Sky
20 pts, 8-10 FG
79-75 win at Mystics

Cathrine Kraayeveld, Liberty
4-16 FG, 3-9 3-pt FG, 11 pts
83-69 loss at Shock

Iziane Castro-Marques, Dream
3-11 FG, 0-4 3-pt FG, 7 pts
98-72 loss vs. Sun

Alana Beard, Mystics
5-18 FG, 2-7 3-pt FG, 18 pts
79-75 loss vs. Sky

Saturday's Games ...

  • Atlanta at Indiana, 7 p.m. ET
  • Washington at Minnesota, 8 p.m. ET
  • Houston at Sacramento, 10 p.m. ET
  • San Antonio at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m. ET (NBA TV)
  • Hammon

    Due to an early season injury, Chicago rookie Sylvia Fowles was filling more pages on than boxscores. However, Fowles has used August to show she is completely recovered. She led Team USA in scoring and rebounding at the Olympics and now is trying to lead the Sky to its first playoff berth. In Friday's win at Washington, Fowles had career highs of 20 points and 13 rebounds. The 6-6 center made 8-of-10 shots and added five blocks and three steals. The win helped the Sky catch the Mystics for fifth place in the East, just two games out of the final playoff spot.
    Apparently, the third time is the charm for Sun forward Kerri Gardin. She was drafted by Chicago in the third round in 2006 but waived before the start of the season. She was signed by Seattle prior to the 2007 season but again was waived. This year, she was signed by Connecticut and was able to stick. Operating below the conventional rookie radar, Gardin had averaged just 3.3 points and 3.0 rebounds this season. But she scored 11 points on 4-of-4 from the field in Thursday's win at Indiana and followed with 13 on 4-of-5 shooting in Friday's rout of Atlanta. Gardin has played in Portugal and Turkey but is staying closer to home this year - and heading to the WNBA playoffs.