July 15, 2022 

Daily Briefing — July 15, 2022: THE OLD AND THE RECKLESS — Diana Taurasi continues flagrant streak

The Aces made small Liberty fans cry on camp day

Happy Friday! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W Roundup, daily Watch List and Yesterday’s Recap. Day 59 of the WNBA season is here, following what vaguely resembled a full day of basketball. For starters, the Aces did the thing where they started excellently — except they never slowed down, set the all-time scoring record for a half, and even got to their bench. The Wings also started hot up in Minnesota, and then led by only three in the waning minutes. Down in the desert, Phoenix… well… the Mercury didn’t start too hot. They were down 15 after the first quarter, even as Diana Taurasi opened this game the same way she ended her last: by flagrantly injuring someone.

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Ariel Atkins left after that, but checked back in towards the end of the quarter. It should pretty clearly be a flagrant 1, as the Taurasi kick against Sylvia Fowles on Tuesday should’ve pretty clearly been a flagrant 2. And to say Taurasi’s been playing “aggressively” this year would be an understatement; watching Taurasi for an entire game invariably shows rough shoving before cuts and throwing off defenders in what would usually be cut-and-dry offensive fouls.

In that sense, to paraphrase Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve, this isn’t surprising from Taurasi. But it sure is reckless and dangerous. And just to hammer that point home, Taurasi threw both a Mystic and her own teammate to the ground in the fourth:


Not only do the actions from Taurasi make for bad basketball, but it makes for an unsafe environment for players. Should the league office fail to penalize Taurasi, it encourages others to match her dangerous behavior as well.

Reporting from Meredith Cash suggests the the league has assessed Taurasi’s kick against Sylvia Fowles on Tuesday as a flagrant 2, which could result in a Taurasi suspension or fine.

Anyway, we did almost get an actual fight thanks to a (kinda lame) Myisha Hines-Allen stepover and Sophie Cunningham taking cheap shots (both in trying to draw a foul and in grabbing Hines-Allen’s leg):


It looked for a second like we’d get another fight in the late fourth as well. But Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins-Smith are just a chill pair of hoopers, so it’s all good.


That’s what basketball players who don’t want anyone getting hurt do. It’d be nice to see the WNBA make it clear that the opposite isn’t tolerated.

After the game, Washington head coach Mike Thibault declined to comment on the aforementioned incidents, saying, “That’s between me and the league. I like my money.”

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But first, read:

W Roundup

The WNBA and NBA are launching a “national network of youth basketball leagues” called the Jr. NBA Leagues, for kids ages 6-14. Starting in November, 11 markets will start as hosts, with participating teams including the Aces, Storm and Mystics. From there, the plans are to expand nationwide, with the goal being 500,000 youth involved by 2027.

The trade deadline is tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.

Watch List, Friday, June 15

(All times in Eastern, Game Of The Day in bold)

Minnesota @ Indiana, 7 p.m., CBS Sports Network (Local: Bally Sports North Extra, Indiana Fever Livestream)

Connecticut @ Atlanta, 7:30 p.m., League Pass (Local: NESN+, Bally Sports South)

Thursday, July 14 recap

Las Vegas (17-7) beat New York (9-15), 108-74, becoming the first team in W history to crack triple-digits in three-straight games, per Across the Timeline (and all against New York!). The Aces set the scoring record for a half while winning the first 20 minutes 71-36. Vegas shot 53.5% from the field and 48.5% from three, while assisting on a season-high 32 of its 38 buckets; the Aces won the rebounding battle by 10.

Center A’ja Wilson led Vegas with 25 points in 20 minutes on 10-for-15 FG (0-1 3pt., 5-6 FT), four rebounds, three steals and two blocks without a turnover — the first-such game in history in no more than 20 minutes, per Across The Timeline; point guard Kelsey Plum had 21 points on 6-for-9 from the field, 4-for-7 from three, and 5-for-7 from the line, five assists and two turnovers; point guard Chelsea Gray notched 16 points on 6-for-7 shooting (season-high-tying 4-4 3pt.), three rebounds and seven assists against two turnovers.

The Liberty were led by big Natasha Howard’s 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting (1-1 3pt.) and nine rebounds (five offensive) against four turnovers; backup combo forward Michaela Onyenwere had 14 points on 4-for-10 from the field (0-3 3pt.) and 6-for-6 from the line and four rebounds.

Dallas (11-13) beat Minnesota (9-16), 92-87. The Wings led by 21 in the early third quarter, but lost the period 30-14 and gave up 60 second-half points. The Lynx won the rebounding battle by 12, including 14 offensive boards; the teams each committed 22 fouls.

Off-ball guard Arike Ogunbowale led Dallas with 32 points on 12-for-24 from the field and 4-for-9 from three, six rebounds, five assists and three steals against three turnovers — the first 32/6/5/3 game in franchise history, per Across the Timeline; wing Allisha Gray had 17 points on 4-for-9 shooting (1-3 3pt., 8-10 FT) and two assists without a turnover; backup center Isabelle Harrison notched 10 points on 5-for-8 FG, five rebounds and two steals in 12 minutes.

Minnesota was led by center Sylvia Fowles’ 20-point, 17-rebound double-double on 9-for-14 FG with a season-high-tying six offensive boards, plus three assists in just 27 minutes — the first 20/17 game in only 27 minutes, per Across the Timeline; backup combo guard Rachel Banham had 24 points on 8-for-12 from the field and 4-for-6 from three, two assists and two steals against five turnovers and four fouls in 22 minutes.

Phoenix (11-15) beat Washington (15-11), 80-75. The Mystics won the first quarter 26-11, but allowed 32 points in the second. The teams combined to shoot just 35.8% overall, but the Mercury were 8.9 percentage points better from three. Washington won the rebounding battle by 11; Phoenix notched 10 steals, part of 19 Mystics turnovers; the teams combined for 39 fouls.

Combo guard Skylar Diggins-Smith led the Mercury with 24 points on 7-for-20 from the field (2-5 3pt.) and 8-for-8 from the line, five rebounds, nine assists and three steals without a turnover — just the second player in league history to have three-straight games of 10 pts/9 ast with no more than one turnover, per Across the Timeline; combo guard Diana Taurasi had 29 points on 10-for-17 shooting (5-9 3pt.), seven rebounds and two blocks against six turnovers; combo guard Shey Peddy notched 12 points on 4-for-11 FG (0-2 3pt., 4-6 FT), four rebounds and three steals against three turnovers.

Washington was led by big Elena Delle Donne’s 19 points on 6-for-13 from the field and 2-for-6 from three and a season-high 12 rebounds for a double-double, plus four assists against four turnovers; off-ball guard Ariel Atkins had 14 points on 5-for-16 shooting (3-10 3pt.) against three turnovers and five fouls in 32 minutes.

Chicago (18-6) beat Los Angeles (10-14), 80-68. The Sky trailed 17-12 in the late first, then scored nine-straight points and led by 13 in the late second. The teams combined to shoot 41.7% from three, but Chicago shot 9.1 percentage points better from the field; the teams combined for 20 steals.

Backup off-ball guard Rebekah Gardner led the Sky with 18 points on 8-for-11 FG and 10 rebounds (four offensive), both career-highs for her first-career double-double in 25 minutes, plus four assists against two turnovers — just the fourth 18/10/4 game off the bench in league history, per Across the Timeline; backup big Azurá Stevens had 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting (2-2 3pt.) against two turnovers; wing Kahleah Copper notched 12 points on 5-for-8 from the field (2-3 3pt.), three rebounds and two assists against two turnovers; big Candace Parker went scoreless for the first time in her career on 0-for-11 FG (0-4 3pt.) but added 11 rebounds, four assists and two blocks — the first 0 pts/11 reb/4 ast game in W history, per Across the Timeline, ending the second-longest streak of scoring games to start a career.

The Sparks were led by center Chiney Ogwumike, who started in place of Liz Cambage in health and safety protocols and recorded a double-double with 14 points on 6-for-12 shooting (2-2 3pt.) and a season-high 13 rebounds, plus three steals and two blocks against three turnovers; big Nneka Ogwumike had 16 points on 7-for-20 FG (0-3 3pt.), eight rebounds and three assists; off-ball guard Brittney Sykes notched 12 points on 6-for-13 from the field, four rebounds, five assists and two steals against six turnovers and four fouls in 31 minutes.

The Next’s Jenn Hatfield contributed reporting to this story.

Written by Em Adler

Em Adler (she/they) covers the WNBA at large and college basketball for The Next, with a focus on player development and the game behind the game.

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