Liberty search for offense against Mystics (Jul 15, 2017)

BY AP • July 15, 2017

New York Liberty head coach Bill Laimbeer has been left to scratching his head as he wonders what has happened to his team's offense.

Just a little over two weeks ago, Washington defeated the Liberty in a game that saw New York score 54 points -- the lowest output of any team this season. Since that loss on June 29, New York has lost three of four and averaged only 72 points in those four games.

Laimbeer might be making some lineup changes come Sunday when the Liberty play host to the Mystics at Madison Square Garden.

"Overall, our defense is keeping ourselves in games," Laimbeer told "It's the offensive part is what's struggling now. We are not getting consistent bench scoring. I might have to move a starter there to get us a boost when everyone is tired."

The Liberty's struggles are especially surprising considering New York is led by five-time All-Star Tina Charles. Her 20.9 points per game are second-best behind Phoenix's Brittney Griner (22.3). Charles also is averaging 9.6 rebounds per game.

Shavonte Zellous and Kia Vaughn have been steady as of late, with Vaughn earning kudos from her coach.

"Vaughn is playing well right now," Laimbeer said. "She's a physical presence out there and she demands the basketball on the inside. She sets the best screens on the team, so she's going to play her fair share of minutes."

The Liberty's task might be made a lot easier depending on the status of Washington's All-Star forward Elena Delle Donne, who sprained an ankle on Friday and left the game after only four minutes with no points and one turnover.

Delle Donne was to be evaluated on Saturday, leaving her status for Sunday's game in doubt. And as of late Saturday afternoon, there was no word on her availability.

Without Delle Donne in the lineup, Emma Meesseman scored 15 points and pulled down five rebounds to lead the Mystics to their first win since beating the Liberty in June.

Meesseman averaged 15.2 points last season for the Mystics and has played in only eight games this season after playing for Belgium at the 2017 FIBA EuroBasket Championships.

"The best part of this is we can get a lot better," Mystics coach Mike Thibault told the Washington Post before Meeseeman's return. "We've got a lot of upside, and that feels good."

After holding Indiana to 58 points on Friday, even without Delle Donne, Washington has reasons to feel good. The Mystics won for the first time in four games in July and improved and got solid efforts from Krystal Thomas (14 points) and Tianna Hawkins (11 points).

Some of the enthusiasm is tempered because of Delle Donne's situation and because of an injury to guard Tayler Hill, whose status is also in limbo.

Hill (13.3 points per game) landed awkwardly on her right knee after attempting a layup and had to be carried off the court on Friday. She left the arena in a wheelchair.

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