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    CT Sun
    Tuesday, November 29, 2022

    Sims giving Sun a boost in their WNBA championship quest

    Connecticut Sun guard Odyssey Sims (1) defends Dallas Wings guard Marina Mabrey (3) in a WNBA first round playoff game on Aug. 18 at Mohegan Sun Arena. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Connecticut Sun forward DeWanna Bonner (24) drives during the second half of Game 3 of a WNBA first round playoff game against the Dallas Wings on Aug. 24 in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

    Odyssey Sims met Kevin Durant many years ago when she was a junior at Baylor and he was playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    The two talked. Durant told her he was a fan of her game. And that was about the extent of their interaction.

    Flash forward to this past June when Sims was without a WNBA home, and about two months away from helping the Connecticut Sun both advance to the WNBA semifinals and beat the defending champion Chicago Sky in Game 1 of the best-of-five series on Sunday.

    Sims was in Los Angeles and went to the Mamba Sports Academy, co-founded by the late Kobe Bryant, in Thousand Oaks, Calif., when the two bumped into one another again.

    “I’m like ‘do I want to talk to him, do I not’ because I tried to plan on working out and they’re really strict at the Mamba Sports Academy,” Sims said. “I (said to him), ‘Hey’, and he asked, ‘Why aren’t you working?’ I was like, ‘Well, I’ve got my shoes over there’. And he was like, ‘Go grab them.’ I was like, ‘For real?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah, come on, jump in and workout.’

    “We worked out for exactly an hour and I’ll just say it was one drill to the next to the next to the next. No water break. No break, all of that. I understand why he’s one of the greatest players because his work ethic is unbelievably amazing.”

    Sims and the third-seeded Sun play Game 2 against No. 2 Chicago on Wednesday night at Wintrust Center (8, ESPN2).

    The Sun have endured misfortune at point guard this summer. Eight-year starter and team leader Jasmine Thomas tore the ACL in her right knee during Connecticut’s fifth game of the season (May 22 at the Indiana Fever).

    Thomas’ injury pushed Natisha Hiedeman into the Sun’s starting lineup. They signed former UConn standout Bria Hartley on July 18 to back her up and bring a spark off the bench.

    Hartley was proving to be everything Connecticut wanted and needed when she tore her left ACL six days later.

    The Sun adjusted again and signed Sims this month, who had been released days into the season by the Minnesota Lynx.

    “She’s always in my ear,” Hiedeman said about Sims. “Whenever see something she don’t hesitate to consult me. On the defensive end she just really tells me what I need to hear. ’You can do it.’

    "Her energy is contagious. (She) brings a lot of energy, a lot of positivity.”

    Sims, when talking about Hiedeman, put a hand over her heart and said, “My little baby. I’ve got to make sure she’s stays on top of (things), keeping her motivated.”

    Sims has averaged 19 minutes off the bench over six games for Connecticut, which is preparing itself for what should be a very irritable Sky. The latter swept their four-game series with the Sun during the regular season, finished second in the league in scoring (86.3 ppg) and first in field goal percentage (48.1%).

    Connecticut was terrific defensively in Sunday’s 68-63 win over Chicago. It was the fewest points the latter had scored in a game this year and it shot 35.3%.

    The Sky dropped the first game of its best-of-three first round series to the New York Liberty (98-91, Aug. 17). Chicago decimated the Liberty in Game 2, 100-62, on Aug. 20. It led 31-10 after the first quarter and set a WNBA playoff record for largest margin of victory.

    “We know they’re going to come out with a vengeance,” Sims said. “They’re probably going to throw the first punch, the second punch, the third punch. We just want to make sure that we stay together (and) play Connecticut basketball.”

    Jones, Thomas honored

    The Sun’s Jonquel Jones and Alyssa Thomas were both named to the WNBA’s All-Defensive second team Tuesday, as chosen by a panel of national panel of 56 media members. It is the third time both have made the All-Defensive team.

    Thomas curiously ended up the on second team this season despite placing second to Las Vegas Aces’ post A’ja Wilson for Defensive Player of the Year honors, which was also announced Tuesday. Wilson earned 20 votes, Thomas had 14 and Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart was third with 13 votes. The latter made first team All-Defensive team over Thomas.

    n.griffen@theday.com

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