This weekly wrap covers the games from July 5 to 12 (PHT). Check out last week's edition here.
Game of the Week
The Washington Mystics' overtime win against the Chicago Sky Sunday (PHT) had everything a thriller needed.
For much of the game, Tina Charles was doing Tina Charles in 2021 things, which include, but are not limited to, flexing her jumpshot, grabbing boards, and scoring over and around double teams. Through the first three and a half quarters, the Mystics looked like they were too much for the Sky.
Then Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley resuscitated Chicago's fleeting offense, finding and creating transition opportunities off their solid defense. The Sky rallied back from down eight to start the fourth quarter. They took the lead, 78-77, thanks to a Candace Parker tip-in with a little over a minute to go in regulation.
What followed was one of the wildest sequences of the season: Washington and Chicago trading buckets, an away-from-the-play foul on Parker, a missed Mystics layup. Chicago almost sealed the win, with Vandersloot running a textbook pick-and-roll to find Stefanie Dolson for the lead, 82-80, with just four seconds to go. Unfortunately, four seconds were enough for Charles to muster greatness.
Charles muscled her way around Parker for the putback and the tie. That’s Tina Charles' season summed up in one play: power and relentlessness rolled into a basketball machine. By overtime, the deflated Sky managed just three points, allowing the Mystics to take their eighth win of the season.
Charles finished with 34 points and 17 rebounds while Vandersloot anchored the Sky with 13 points and 15 assists.
Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury
A couple of high-key performances have elevated Brittney Griner to low-key MVP candidate status. She was legit dominant this week against tough competition. First, she hung 33 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks in a convincing win against the league-leading Las Vegas Aces.
Two days later against the defending champs Seattle Storm, Griner dominated for 29 points and 15 rebounds. Although the Mercury’s hot streak ended against the Storm earlier today, Griner still had a solid outing with 16 points and nine rebounds.
For the season, the nine-year veteran is averaging 20.5 points on 57.6 percent shooting with 9.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. Few have been as imposing as Griner in the middle. If the Mercury continue to climb the standings, expect Griner to get more buzz for MVP.
Jonquel Jones, Connecticut Sun
Speaking of MVP contenders, the Sun’s Jonquel Jones has resumed her stellar play since returning from her European obligations. The Sun went 2-0 this week to lift their record to 14-6, and Jones led the way in each game.
Jones collected 24 points and 16 rebounds against the Atlanta Dream on Saturday before dropping 17-17 on the New York Liberty earlier today. She has been the breakout star of the season and could very well power the Sun to a deep playoff run.
Sue Bird, Seattle Storm
The legend Sue Bird keeps reminding us she's been great for a very long time. This week, she became the first-ever WNBA player to reach 3,000 career assists.
.@S10Bird, the #WNBA all-time assists leader, is now the first player in league history to reach 3,000 career AST 🎉— WNBA (@WNBA) July 10, 2021
Take a look back at some of Bird's dimes from over the years 👏#CountIt pic.twitter.com/7wUlpw84s8
Team in the spotlight
The Minnesota Lynx are not just the hottest team in the league, but they may have also revealed themselves as a top contender for the title. They extended their win streak to seven this week, scoring comfortable wins against the Dallas Wings, Las Vegas Aces, and Los Angeles Sparks, before entering the Olympic break.
Balance and depth have made the Lynx dangerous in this run. There is probably no team in the league that can boast a starting five loaded at each position as the Lynx regular starters of Napheesa Collier, Sylvia Fowles, Kayla McBride, Layshia Clarendon, and Damiris Dantas. They even have Aerial Powers and Crystal Dangerfield providing spark off the bench.
The Lynx have scored impressive wins against fellow top-tier teams and showed that they can survive ugly defensive struggles or offensive showdowns.
Did you see that?
Maya Moore gave a stirring speech at yesterday’s ESPYS when she received the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.
There is nothing more courageous than what Moore did: stand up to an unfair legal justice system to free Jonathan Irons from a wrongful conviction. She dedicated most of her life to getting Irons out of prison, even putting her basketball career on hold at her peak.
But Moore wants the world, especially the American public, to understand that the changes she wants goes beyond what the media saw her fight and sacrifice for.
"These sacrifices we make in sports are great, but I would invite you to see them as just pointers to the sacrifices of life that matter most, the ones that are centered around helping each other live to the fullest, sacrificing the power you have to humanize someone else," she said.