Sun still in an offensive funk
The Connecticut Sun are not playing Sun basketball right now.
Connecticut is the only team to win 20-or-more games in each of the past three seasons, using a high-scoring offense fueled by the fast break, second-chance points and 3-pointers.
The Sun were among the lowest scoring teams in the WNBA prior to Friday's games and last in shooting percentage. They play the Minnesota Lynx on Saturday (4 p.m., NESN) at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
The Lynx (2-1) beat the Sun 77-69 in last Saturday's season-opener.
"There's not one magic button that we can push," Connecticut head coach Curt Miller said. "It's a continuity issue. I've talked until I'm blue in the face with all you guys that there's going to be speed bumps and a learning curve and a work in progress with this team early in the year."
The Sun fell to 0-3 after losing to the Los Angeles Sparks late Thursday night, 81-76, despite getting another spectacular showing from DeWanna Bonner.
Bonner scored 34 points to tie Courtney Williams for the second-most points in a game in Sun history. Shannon Johnson holds the franchise record with 35 in a triple overtime game against the now-defunct Cleveland Rockers on June 8, 2002.
Bonner also set a WNBA record for most points scored in the first three games with a new team (82). She's one of Connecticut's six new players.
"We said when we went and got her in the offseason (via a trade with the Phoenix Mercury) that you're going to see something special," Miller said about Bonner. "She can really score."
Connecticut has ranked in the top four in scoring the past four seasons, averaging 84.4 points and finishing first in 2018.
The Sun have averaged 78 points through three games this year.
Connecticut was the league's third-best 3-point shooting team last season (35.6 percent). The Sun are shooting 38.5 percent this year. From the floor. They've also made just 26.9 percent of their 3-pointers.
"Right now, we're playing a lot of iso ball," forward Alyssa Thomas said. "DB has been carrying us each game. We've got to figure out a way to have people do the little things; just have flow.
"We definitely need to watch some video. We just have to be more aggressive."
The absence of Jonquel Jones has also been huge. The post is one of three starters gone from last year's team. She opted out of this season due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. She earned second-team All-WNBA honors for the second time in three years last season and won her second rebounding title in three years.
Jones and Thomas helped Connecticut finish first in second-chance points the last two seasons.
"We put this team together in a win-now mode, and unfortunately we don't have JJ and we're not going to have JJ (this season)," Miller said.
Thomas said, "We're playing an unorthodox lineup this year. We need to figure out how to put people in places to be successful, and right now, I don't think we've done that. We need to figure out which offense is going to work for us this year and move the ball and be able to have people get comfortable."
Bonner made 12 of 19 shots against Los Angeles and added 14 rebounds and six assists. The rest of the team was 14 of 54 from the floor (25.9 percent).
"I'm proud of their effort through these first three games," Miller said. "I think it's been really sloppy at times. It's been a work in progress in terms of execution and we've got some stuff to clean up. … While we've had stretches of defense that's let us down and we make some schematic mistakes, our defense has kept us in things. DB and AT have kept us in things (offensively) and given us a chance.
"We've been in every game. Ultimately, as we get a little bit better, that's going to bode well at some point."
Bonner's 3-pointer gave Connecticut a 51-46 lead with 5 minutes, 19 seconds left in the third quarter Thursday.
Seimone Augustus's 8-foot jumper tied the game at 54 with 3:02 left in the quarter. Brittney Sykes 18-foot jumper put Los Angeles ahead for good, 56-54, with 2:31 remaining in the third.
"The wins will come," Bonner said. "I promise you that. So Connecticut, stay with us. Just watch. Just sit back and watch. We'll be alright."
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Sylvia Fowles had 21 points and 13 rebounds as the Minnesota Lynx beat the winless Connecticut Sun on Saturday afternoon, 78-69, at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
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