Mohegan - Mike Thibault, whose Los Angeles Laker days might make him somewhat allergic to Celtic green, still manages something in common with one of Red Auerbach's greatest hits: It's not who starts, it's who finishes.
This is a circumstance, at Thibault's behest, with which Sun guard Renee Montgomery has become acquainted this season.
Montgomery would rather start. But she's finished rather deftly thus far, on the floor at the end Friday night at Mohegan Sun Arena, making the free throw that ultimately sealed the Sun's 83-79 win over San Antonio.
Montgomery came off the bench to score a game-high 23 points in a little more than 27 minutes, perhaps making her reserve status a duller ache.
"I'm not going to change anything. I still approach the games with the same focus," Montgomery said after the game sitting at her locker, far more jovial than she was a day earlier when she was first asked to discuss Thibault's decision. "I'd never let a decision like that affect my team. If I come in and feel sorry for myself, ultimately, I'm hurting the team."
The Sun used a 12-0 run in the fourth period to turn a 62-60 lead into 74-60. Connecticut (3-0) held San Antonio (1-1) scoreless for nearly four minutes.
It was 82-71 in the final minute when Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes decided not to foul. It didn't stop the Sun from letting San Antonio back into the game, culminating with Kelsey Griffin's foul of Shameka Christon, who made a 3-pointer, with 18 seconds left.
Christon missed the free throw, but the Sun's lead shrunk to 82-77, forcing Thibault to call a timeout. Montgomery, who left the game a little earlier to a standing ovation from the crowd of 6,115, entered the game again and cemented the game with a free throw.
"I'm just doing what I think is right for our team. I'm hoping Renee sees it's a pretty good role if you take it the right way," Thibault said. "Players, fans, media, families, friends get way too hung up on who starts. I think it's the most overrated thing in basketball. She's finding out finishing is a pretty good thing."
Tina Charles scored 18 points and added eight rebounds, eclipsing 800 career rebounds faster than any player in WNBA history. Asjha Jones added 16 points and six rebounds before fouling out.
Jones even prepared herself to take a charge from San Antonio forward Danielle Adams, who is listed at 239 pounds on the team roster.
"She's pretty nimble," Jones said. "She slowed up but I was bracing myself. I don't really take too many charges. I was kind of like, 'OK, I'm ready.'"
Kara Lawson had 13 points, including 8-for-8 from the free throw line.
Allison Hightower scored four points in 31 minutes, but played exemplary defense on San Antonio guard Beck Hammon, who finished with 11 points.
The Sun are off until next Friday when they play host to defending WNBA champion Minnesota at 7 p.m.