Sun rally to put away Sky
Mohegan - This is the time of year where strategy and techno-babble surely have their place: a distant second to guts and resolve. And so maybe the Connecticut Sun have authored more aesthetic wins than they did Sunday, but none bigger, none tougher.
Maybe that's why Sun coach Mike Thibault's customary inspirational quote at the bottom of the scouting report came from Madonna, who once observed, "sometimes you have to be a (jerk) to get things done."
Madonna would have been proud of the Sun's 82-77 win over desperate Chicago, during which the Sun rallied from a 14-point deficit. They overcame ample exasperation and frustration, to the delight of the crowd of 6,658, whose din reflected the urgency of the game.
Connecticut (21-8) maintained its 1.5-game lead over Indiana for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Chicago fell a half-game behind New York for the final playoff spot.
"Their players played terrific," Thibault said of the Sky. "But down the stretch defensively, we did a terrific job. We kind of hung with it. A terrific win. A lot of people did some good stuff."
Tina Charles led the Sun with 24 points, including eight in the fourth period.
"She is really the best at that position," Chicago coach Pokey Chatman, who coaches Sylvia Fowles, said of Charles. "She commands the respect, she has the jump hook going and she has the high post 15-16 footer going and she is pretty darn good all over the floor. She is a player that can be challenged and I'm sure after that last game there was another challenge laid to her and unfortunately we were on the receiving end of that."
Thibault said Charles, who is nursing a sore groin, hip and some fatigue will not play Wednesday night when the Sun play the first of their three-game road trip in Phoenix. She will play Friday in Los Angeles.
"I'm definitely fatigued, but I've got to fight through it," Charles said. "It'll definitely help not playing 35-37 minutes per game getting banged around."
The Sun trailed 44-30 late in the first half, but cut it to seven by halftime. They took their first lead since 2-0 on Renee Montgomery's 3-pointer late in the third period, following several contentious bouts with the officials. Thibault drew a technical earlier in the game.
"Our frustration didn't come with the game itself. It came with other things," Thibault said, wearing a wry grin. "I would have had one of my assistants take one for the team if we needed to."
The officials were still behind closed doors with WNBA Director of Officiating Dee Kantner more than an hour after the game ended.
The Sun, nonetheless, persevered. Montgomery's three with 6:45 remaining gave the Sun the lead for good at 63-60.
Montgomery had 12 points off the bench.
"Everyone right now, no matter who we're playing, is in playoff mode," Montgomery said. "Every possession is a big possession."
The Sun made four three-pointers in the fourth period and made 7 of 8 free throws in the final 48.7 seconds.
Tan White had 11 points for the Sun, including three 3-pointers as the Sun rallied. Kelsey Griffin added 10 points and four offensive rebounds and Danielle McCray, whom Thibault praised for her defense on Swin Cash, had nine points.
Kara Lawson had six points, nine assists and six rebounds.
The Sun leave for the West coast with a 1.5-game lead with five games to play.
"You can't worry about the standings," Thibault said. "We've got to worry about our team's health for the playoffs."
Thibault said he's "hopeful" forward Asjha Jones, who worked out before Sunday's game, would play on the trip.
Cash 21 points and 15 rebounds for Chicago (11-17).