Cappie Pondexter and Taj McWilliams-Franklin got the new-look Liberty off to a winning start in their New York debuts.
Pondexter scored 22 points, McWilliams-Franklin had 20, and the host Liberty beat the Chicago Sky, 85-82, yesterday to win their season opener.
New York used an 18-0 run in the third quarter to take a 16-point lead, before allowing the Sky to tie the score late in the fourth quarter.
Pondexter put the Liberty ahead for good, and McWilliams-Franklin had a block on Sylvia Fowles’s potential tying layup with 1:07 to go and then made three free throws in the final 19.4 seconds to seal the win.
“We did some great things in the third quarter when we made that big run,’’ Pondexter said. “We let up and made it a close game when we could have just put it away.
“Our intensity dropped a lot. We have to keep that intensity. When we have a 16-point lead, you gotta push your foot on their throat, and we didn’t do it.’’
The Liberty revamped their roster after going 13-21 last season, the second-worst mark in franchise history. New York selected Nicole Powell in the Sacramento Monarchs dispersal draft and Pondexter was acquired in a three-team trade with Phoenix last month after helping the Mercury win two championships in three years. McWilliams-Franklin, who won a title with the Detroit Shock in 2008, signed as a free agent.
Mystics 87, Lynx 76 — Monique Currie scored 27 points and Washington spoiled Lindsay Whalen’s home debut for Minnesota.
Whalen finished with 12 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds, but the Lynx lost a 15-point second-quarter lead and faded in the second half. Currie and former Lynx star Katie Smith (16 points) led the Mystics to their second win in two days.
Dream 66, Fever 62 — Erika DeSouza had 14 points and 11 rebounds and host Atlanta held Indiana to 4 points in the fourth quarter.
The Fever (0-2) led by 7 points in the third quarter and 58-53 entering the fourth, but only made one basket until the closing seconds.
Storm 81, Sparks 67 — Lauren Jackson scored 17 of her 23 points in the first half and Sue Bird and Tanisha Wright hit key shots in the final minutes to help Seattle pull away at home.