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Turnover-prone Liberty routed by Candace Parker-led Chicago Sky

Chicago Sky forward/center Candace Parker (3) goes up

Chicago Sky forward/center Candace Parker (3) goes up for a layup in front of four NY Liberty during the third quarter of the game at Barclays Center Tuesday, June 22, 2021. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan/Joseph D. Sullivan

Too many turnovers aren’t usually a good recipe for success. Yet the Liberty escaped from Los Angeles Sunday with a win despite committing a season-high 30 of them.

They were back at Barclays Center Tuesday night against Chicago, knowing they had a problem to fix. The Liberty arrived as the worst turnover team in the league, averaging 17.4 per game. The turnover topic came up at the morning shootaround.

"We talked about it as a team," Jazmine Jones said. "We’ll fix that problem."

They fixed it a little bit. Still, 16 turnovers led to 21 points. There were a whole lot of other problems, too.

A big one was named Candace Parker. She delivered 23 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, helping power the Sky to their sixth straight win, a 92-72 victory in the opener of a two-game series, which concludes here Thursday.

Afterward, Liberty coach Walt Hopkins cited fatigue as the biggest problem following the Liberty’s return from their 2-2 West trip.

"I think there wasn’t much left in the tank," the coach said. "That was a long road trip."

The Liberty (7-7) went 6-for-28 from beyond the arc.

"I think part of that probably is the legs, of being tired," Sami Whitcomb said.

Betnijah Laney led them with 18 points. Jones added 11 points and Whitcomb had 10. Sabrina Ionescu, coming off the bench for the third straight game after sitting out two due to left ankle tendinitis, played 27:01 and shot 1-for-5 and scored just six points, which went with eight rebounds and seven assists. "As she continues to get healthy . . . she’s going to get back to where she was," Laney said.

When the Liberty won, 93-85, at Chicago on May 23, Parker was out with an ankle injury.

This time, the 6-4 Parker scored on back-to-back inside shots to raise the lead to 37-25 and launch an 11-2 second-quarter run. When she drilled a straightaway three to cap it, the lead had swelled to 48-27.

"Candace can hurt you in a lot of ways," Hopkins said. Ruthy Hebard also hurt them in that quarter, scoring all eight of her points on 4-for-4 shooting.

The Sky (8-7) picked right up again after halftime. Courtney Vandersloot nailed a jumper, Parker buried a three and Kahleah Copper hit from 19 feet to increase their cushion to 55-34.

Hopkins called for time, but the lead swelled to 28 in the fourth when Allie Quigley converted a three-point play.

"It’s one of those things," Hopkins said, "that you’ve just got to rinse it off and get some rest."

Notes & quotes: Hopkins said Natasha Howard (sprained MCL) could be back "in the next couple of weeks." . . . Quigley scored 14 points for Sky after missing the previous game against the Liberty with a hamstring injury.

New York Sports