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So, THAT’s not how the Sparks and Lynx wanted to get out of the post-Olympics gate….

LA went up to Seattle and got squeezed by the Storm, 79-72. Stewie struggled, but Bird picked up the slack, hitting 5-7 from behind the arc.

“It’s surprising because we didn’t have the best offensive night. It was all about defense for us,” said guard Jewell Loyd, who finished with 15 points, seven assists and five steals with just one turnover.

Nneka continued her hot play, but it wasn’t enough.

“I think we sat around for six weeks and everybody told us how good we were and I think we softened up,” said Sparks Head Coach Brian Agler.

Maybe Excelle should play the lotto (Connecticut Sun: a team on the rise, playoffs in sight) ’cause the Lynx got stymied by the Sun (and Moore’s foul trouble)  in Connecticut, 84-80.

“We have to grind,” Sun coach Curt Miller said. “We don’t out talent anyone. There’s a reason that four of those players (on the Lynx) are on the Olympic team. We aren’t going to out-talent anyone in this league, but we have to out work and out tough.”

No one on the Lynx is pointing to the Olympics as an excuse:

“In the end, it’s probably a wash,” said Reeve, when asked before the Lynx’s 84-80 loss to the Sun if fatigue or lack of sharpness would prevail. “Any advantage they may have from being off, full-rested, maybe honing some skills, the group that was over in Rio is in game shape and has that rhythm of playing a game. That’s something you can’t simulate when you’re off.

In San Antonio, the Liberty kept their focus and dispatched the Stars, 84-77, thanks to the sweetness that is (MIP) Sugar. Hello, playoffs!

Elena Delle Donne brought the 34-point boom to Chicago as the Sky took down Atlanta, 90-82.

“We took care of the basketball, and I think the key was we married that to good offensive execution and attacked and got to the free throw line,” said Sky coach Pokey Chatman. “I think that comfort allowed us to weather the storm when we were down by seven and then up by eight. 

“It was nice to see that, and we’ll need it as we head on to Dallas.”

Speaking of Dallas, the eternal Pierson’s 23 (and 4000th) couldn’t help the Wings against Penny “sore throat” Taylor and the rest of the Merc.

Phoenix Mercury players won a combined four medals at the Rio Olympics, and more importantly, may have found the defense and chemistry that was missing before the Olympic break.

Despite falling behind by 11 early against Dallas on Friday night, the Mercury hammered the Wings 98-72 before 11,396 at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Phoenix’s most one-sided win of the season came against a team it went 0-3 against pre-Rio, including a triple overtime loss June 18 after leading 75-59 going into the fourth quarter.

Washington Post: Mystics and WNBA are back from Olympic break, but LaToya Sanders got no rest

Aussie, Aussie, ello! Mystics Sign Leilani Mitchell as Bria Hartley starts planning for a munchkin.

Slam Online: WATCH: WNBA Super20

The historic 20th WNBA season has been one for the record books. The Lynx and Sparks got off to a blazing hot start, the W has faced controversy for trying to police its players and the basketball has never been better.

With all the talent and storylines around the League, the final part of the regular season and the playoffs provide a guaranteed storybook ending.

Get hype for the rest of the 2016 campaign, picking up again tonight, with the video above, featuring highlights from the first part of the summer.

Also: Nike & WNBA Star Elena Delle Donne Donate Sneakers To Delaware Newborns

Meanwhile:

Doug Bruno savors experience with USA women’s basketball team

Baylor women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey donates to Louisiana hometown in wake of flooding

Vermont women’s basketball cancels game at UNC over transgender bathroom law

“The decision to cancel to our Dec. 28 women’s basketball game at North Carolina was made as a result of concerns over the HB2 law, which prevents transgender people from using government-run bathrooms based on their gender identity,” University of Vermont athletic director Jeff Schulman said Wednesday. “We strive very hard to create an inclusive climate for our students and staff in which they all can feel safe, respected, and valued. It would be hard to fulfill these obligations while competing in a state with this law, which is contrary to our values as an athletic department and university.”

WATN? Rodrigo is new grad assistant for Georgia basketball

WATN? Mo’ne Davis shifts her drive to the basketball court: The Little League World Series pioneer two years later

Davis, 15, is heading into her sophomore year of high school at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. She dreams of a career in the WNBA, and she knows the journey begins with the process of college recruitment. That’s why Davis has made the decision to forgo high school basketball this season – after representing her school as an eighth-grader and a freshman – and exclusively play AAU with the Philly Triple Threat team, where she can go head to head with the best talent in the nation.

“I made the decision because it was time to start getting out there in front of college coaches and showing my improvement over the next two years,” Davis said.

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Not so much, eh Courtnay?

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  • Like my cats, I know, I just don’t learn. Whipped out a brand, spanking clean, white “Proud member of the women’s basketball intelligentsia” t-shirt for my trip down to D.C. and, once on the train, I promptly dribbled coffee on it. Sigh. Me and white Ts have a love/hate relationship.
  • Speaking of love/hate, the Drive is still alive in New Jersey!
  • You know, at crunch time your senior leadership should not dribble into a shot clock violation. And yah, she’s rookie-of-the-year-in-waiting, but exactly HOW MANY rebounds did that Nerd City kid get?!?
  • Yes, it was against Tulsa, but Miyah was on Fiyah at the Four (No truth to the rumor she’s putting in for a legal name change – perhaps she was too busy chatting?). Minny is proud of their three Olympians.
  • Speakng of the Olympics, a mini-snark moment: Ya think Catchings is going to talk about how this group of Olympians could beat the Dream Team of 1996?
  • Yes, it was against an Angel-less Dream, but the SASS don’t care – they just keep on winning. Becky is happy.
  • Perhaps inspired by the approaching Olympics, Katie goes off on Taurasi (not for long?)-less Merc.
  • Prince-less Sky go down in overtime. Hey, that’s the Sun winning on the road! (And yes, we want “-less” to disappear during the break, please.)
  • A little M&M before the Olympic break.
  • A Q&A with a little focus on Seimone’s arm/body artistry. And isn’t nice to note how her fiancee LaTaya is mentioned with the same “weight” as one might use when mentioning LeBron’s fiancee Savannah.
  • Can’t resist a sports pun: I get off the train and see the following name on an elegant, white bus: “Chariots for Hire”
  • Yes, a bunch of Blackberry-sporting Canadians just asked me if I knew where the nearest Chick Fil-A was. Guess they were scared to go into the Whole Foods to ask.
  • Speaking of Canadians and Olympians, Courtnay Pilypaitis (which the Blackberry-sporting folk didn’t know about. Tsk, tsk.) was named an assistant coach at Vermont.
  • Coach Summitt makes the ESPYs worth watching

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