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Liberty, Lynx meet after unsatisfactory wins

The New York Liberty won their season opener. Based on coach Bill Laimbeer's reaction, it did not seem like a win.

"I hope this is the worst game we play all year. It was awful," Laimbeer said. "We didn't execute the things we were supposed to. We didn't box out, gave up way too many offensive rebounds. Missed free throws all over the place.

"Collectively top to bottom I thought this was about as worse an effort they could have put forth and I told them so in very strong language."

On Thursday, Laimbeer hopes he won't be making similar comments when the Liberty host the Minnesota Lynx at Madison Square Garden.

The Liberty's Tina Charles scored 12 points in Saturday's 73-64 win over the San Antonio Stars.

Laimbeer was more concerned with what unfolded in the fourth quarter. The Liberty held a 17-point lead heading into the fourth but allowed San Antonio to get the deficit to nine before making enough plays to win.

"I'm very happy Bill did that," Charles said. "I've been waiting for him to do that the last three or four years I've been here."

The Liberty had four days to correct those things. Tuesday's practice ended with players ending a running drill by having to make two free throws.

The Lynx also are coming off a season-opening win, a 70-61 victory over the Chicago Sky on Sunday in their first game since a heartbreaking loss in the WNBA Finals to the Los Angeles Sparks.

Like Laimbeer, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve focused on some of the things her team did wrong. Among them was scoring just 26 points in the second half, though Reeve was not as forceful with her team as the former Detroit Pistons center was with his.

"The most important thing was winning the game," Reeve said after the game. "A lot of stuff we have to work on. Conditioning was a factor. I thought for the most part we got good shots, so just making shots when you get them. I just thought we played slow in the second half.

Sylvia Fowles led the Lynx with 26 points and 10 rebounds to offset an off day from Maya Moore. The perennial MVP candidate and 2015 WNBA finals MVP was 5 of 19 from the field, missed 10 of 11 3-point attempts and contributed 11 points.

"For the most part, I'm happy with the win, I'm happy with the way we performed, but we definitely have things to work on," Fowles said. "It was the first game, you know it's not going to be pretty."

Among those things to work on are turnovers and defensive rebounding. The Lynx committed 15 turnovers and also gave up 15 offensive rebounds, and it was an offensive rebound that decided last year's WNBA Finals.

Minnesota won two of three meetings with the Liberty last season. In the only meeting in New York, Moore scored 25 while Charles totaled 23 for New York in Minnesota's 79-69 win on May 31.
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