Sun holding tight minus Jones

Connecticut Sun guard Kalana Greene takes a shot in the second half of Thursday's loss to the New York Liberty in Newark, N.J. The teams meet again tonight at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Connecticut Sun guard Kalana Greene takes a shot in the second half of Thursday's loss to the New York Liberty in Newark, N.J. The teams meet again tonight at Mohegan Sun Arena. John Minchillo/ AP Photo

Mohegan - The difference between a pessimist and a cynic: A pessimist waits for something bad to happen. A cynic has no doubt.

Both afflictions, however, are understandable for fans of the Connecticut Sun, who have grown accustomed to killer, late-season injuries that derail months' worth of hope and promise.

In previous seasons, the Sun lost Lindsay Whalen in the WNBA Finals (2005), Katie Douglas in the second round of the playoffs (2006) and lost to Indiana (2007) in the first round with Asjha Jones nursing a hobbled ankle.

Maybe this season is different. The injury - if Connecticut is lucky enough that this is its lone serious injury - came with more than a month left in the regular season. It's likely Jones (left Achilles' strain) will be back well before playoff time.

Jones missed Thursday night's 79-66 loss at New York and won't play tonight when the Sun bid for some revenge against the Liberty at Mohegan Sun Arena (7 p.m., CPTV Sports).

Sun coach Mike Thibault said after Thursday's game Jones' targeted time of return is sometime during the four-game road trip from Aug. 28-Sept. 4.

"But we're going to be cautious about it," Thibault said. "We need her when playoff time comes."

Jones, a member of the U.S. Olympic team, shook her head Thursday when asked if she thought there was reason for dire concern over the injury.

Jones averages 13.1 points and 7.7 rebounds.

Her absence, while noteworthy, was a duller ache Thursday thanks to 21 combined points from Mistie Mims and Kelsey Griffin. It was Griffin, in particular, who might have taken step one toward revitalizing her season.

"It helped a lot to go home during the break and take a couple of breaths," Griffin said. "When we got back, we had time for development. Sometimes in the WNBA, there's not time for that."

The Sun also figure to see the better version of Tina Charles, the MVP candidate, rather than the player who shot 1-for-7 Thursday night. Charles acknowledged the challenges of playing without Jones.

"Over the past three years, I feel like Asjha and I have developed a chemistry," Charles said. "She makes everybody better. She has that presence and that look on her face that makes you want to play for her. When you see that look, even in bad times, you know we can still win. I have to be that person now."

The Liberty (7-12) trail Chicago by two games for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Connecticut (15-5) leads second-place Indiana by three games.

m.dimauro@theday.com

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