NEWARK -- Getting off to a sluggish start against the highest scoring team in the WNBA can often lead to a bad ending.
The Liberty found itself in an 18-point halftime hole it couldn't climb out of in a 73-47 loss to the Minnesota Lynx at the Prudential Center last night. "We played with energy, but we didn't play smart and we didn't play focused," coach Bill Laimbeer said. "Sometimes you have too much energy [and] you miss some easy starts like we did to start."
The Liberty trimmed a 39-21 halftime deficit to 45-32 on a three-point play by Kara Braxton with 3:15 left in the quarter, but the Lynx (21-7) ended the third on a 6-2 run for a 51-34 lead.
The Liberty shot 25 percent from the field; the Lynx hit 45 percent of their shots.
"Today we obviously couldn't make shots," said Cappie Pondexter, who led the Liberty with 13 points. "They made big plays when they needed."
It was the fourth loss in five games for the Liberty, which trails the Indiana Fever by 11/2 games for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Liberty (11-17) hosts the Fever (12-15) in a critical matchup on Friday. A win would trim the Fever's lead to a half game with five to go, while a loss would drop the Liberty 21/2 games out of the final spot and could end their postseason hopes.
"Everybody in the world that watches women's basketball knows it's a big game for us [and] a big game for Indiana," Pondexter said. "I think we have an advantage because we're at home. And we have to utilize that."
Plenette Pierson added 12 points and newly acquired DeLisha Milton-Jones had nine points and seven rebounds for the Liberty.
Lindsay Whalen had 18 points and Maya Moore added 11 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota.
Notes & quotes: Laimbeer, who was fined an undisclosed amount by the WNBA for critical comments he made about the Minnesota Lynx last week, said there are "no issues" between him and Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve.