Mystics-Liberty Preview

The Associated Press

Hard-nosed coaches Bill Laimbeer of the New York Liberty and Mike Thibault of the Washington Mystics complained their teams did too much standing around in blowout home losses in their last games.

Both clubs sound like they are in need of a wakeup call and not just because of the morning start for Tuesday's matchup at the Prudential Center.

New York (8-12) fell 88-66 to last-place Connecticut on Saturday, getting outscored by 23 points in the second half.

"They wanted the game more than we did," Laimbeer said. "They had more energy and it showed. They took advantage of us just standing around. When we just stand around, we get really bad."

One day later, Washington (9-12) was similarly lethargic in its third straight loss, 75-57 to Los Angeles. The Mystics shot 34.2 percent and trailed by as many as 25 points.

"We stand too much," Thibault said. "We have plays that don't involve a lot of standing but for whatever reason, we've started watching each other, we're not screening people really well."

It's not surprising that these coaches shared the same sentiment since they were known for their intensity during their rivalry between 2002-08 with their previous clubs - Laimbeer with Detroit and Thibault with Connecticut.

New York posted an 88-78 road victory Wednesday in their first meeting since those days. The Liberty outscored the Mystics 56-26 in the paint, and Thibault said his club was "out-physicaled."

Kara Braxton scored a season-high 22 points for the Liberty in that game and her backup, rookie Kelsey Bone, made 7 of 9 shots for 15 points and added a season-best 11 rebounds.

New York has won four straight in this series and can move one-half game ahead of Washington for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Liberty are trying to avoid their first four-game home slide since July 23-Aug. 14, 2009. Braxton scored 18 points Saturday and Cappie Pondexter and Plenette Pierson each had 17.

Third-year guard Alex Montgomery logged 21 minutes in her return after missing four games with a sprained ankle.

Crystal Langhorne was the only Washington player to score in double figures Sunday with 23 points as the Mystics lost for the fifth time in six games.

Fellow All-Star Ivory Latta scored five points on 2-of-12 shooting. She's averaging 7.7 points on 27.8 percent shooting in three games since the break.

"I'm concerned that we are falling back into some old habits," Thibault said. "And I think that it's throughout the team."

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