Connecticut Sun 96, Indiana Fever 77 — So it turns out I was wrong about Connecticut being able to clinch a playoff spot with this win. I didn’t account for where Indiana would drop in the standings after the loss, thus not making them the #9 team any longer. That’s the case here, as Washington is now in ninth place, just three games behind the Sun. Connecticut has three games left to go in the season, while Washington still has.... is this right? They have FIVE games left? Okay then. Well, that definitely plays into Connecticut not clinching a spot.
ANYWAY, in a game against a team that is trending towards not in the playoffs, Connecticut did what they had to do in order to keep themselves in playoff contention. The Sun led the entire way through the contest and kept incrementally growing the lead along the way. It was just a four point game at the end of the first quarter, but Connecticut got the first five points to start the second quarter and Alyssa Thomas scored on a feed from Jasmine Thomas at the 7:25 mark to push the lead into double digits for the first time.
It didn’t stay there, not quite yet, but it was back to exactly 10, 47-37, at the half, and after the intermission, the lead kind of floated around that 10 point mark for a while. Late in the third, though, the Sun ripped off an 11-0 run capped by a layup off a steal by AT that turned it into a 20 point ballgame, 70-50. Indiana would yank it back under 20 before the quarter ended, but a DeWanna Bonner pullup in the final minute got it back to 18 as well as giving Bonner 15 of her eventual 26 points in the third quarter alone. Indiana did their part to help the Sun out here with seven turnovers in the period.
From there, it was all easy breezy, and the Sun actually tacked on a point to their margin by the end of it. Bonner led all scorers with her 26, and Connecticut added 20 each from AT and Brionna Jones. Natisha Hiedeman played about half of the first quarter and then sparingly from there, finishing with five points on 2-for-6 shooting, along with a rebound, three assists, and a steal.
Denver Nuggets 110, Los Angeles Clippers 101 — Okay, so look. Here’s the deal: LA never led in this game. Quite honestly, it’s a shock that they were even this close at the end if you tuned in early and then checked out.
See? Not the kind of thing you want to see 11 minutes into a playoff game.
The lead peaked for Denver early in the second quarter as they went up by 23. The Clips nearly got it back down to only 10 pretty quickly, but it was still a 16 point game at the half. Nothing much doing in the third quarter, honestly, but LA did trim another four points off the lead. Wait, is this a comeback???
I mean, you read the final score, so you know it’s not.
Well, with 8:36 to go in the game, Paul George drained a triple to make it 91-86. Five point game with eight minutes to go? That’s anyone’s ball game!
And then the Clippers didn’t score again for over three minutes, and Denver had turned it into a 15 point game again by then. Ooooooops. That was that.
Nikola Jokic gave Doc Rivers fits here, finishing with 26 points, 18 rebounds, and four assists. Good luck solving that riddle. A double-double from Kawhi Leonard did not help things, which is a weird thing to say, but he only had 13 points to go with his 10 rebounds and eight assists. Kawhi only connected on four of his 17 shot attempts in this game, and that tells you a lot about what’s going on here. Paul George’s 7-for-19 isn’t much better, but it is better. George finished with a team high 22 points, and we do have to give credit to the rest of the Clippers roster for trying real damn hard. Seven LA players finished with at least 10 points in the game. Patrick Beverley was the only starter who did not, but I’m not going to chide him for that because there’s a real chance he could turn up at my house to yell at me about it.
Up Next: It’s Sun-adjacent, but we should noted that Sunday features a Dallas-Washington game that could play a part in Connecticut’s postseason future. The Wings are currently in eighth place, two and a half games behind the Sun, and a Mystics win would flip-flop the two teams in the standings. That would put Dallas in the #9 spot, 3.5 games behind Connecticut with three games to play. That sounds kind of clinchy to me. As for the Sun themselves, they’ll be back in action on Monday evening in the only WNBA game of the day. they’ll tangle with 5th place Phoenix in a 5pm Central start on CBS Sports Network.
Over in the Western Conference of the NBA, Doc and the Clippers will get back out on the court on Monday night to continue their series with Denver which is now tied at one game each. Tipoff is set for 8pm Central there, and TNT will have the broadcast.