Loyd starting to feel more comfortable in the WNBA
NEW YORK (AP) Jewell Loyd is beginning to pick up the nuances of the WNBA.
The league's top pick in this season's draft started out the season slowly, only scoring in double figures once in her first eight games. Since a 21-point performance in Tulsa she's picked up her scoring, averaging 10.8 points over the Storm's past 13 games. She won the league's rookie of the month honors for July on Monday.
''Just trying to do something as a rookie, take what the defense gives me as much as possible,'' Loyd said. ''Repetition helps a lot, it starts in practice as well, get aggressive and attack. Seeing everyone a couple times in this league has helped as well.''
Loyd's development hasn't been lost on teammate Sue Bird.
''I think early on she was getting adjusted, a little tentative, trying to feel her game out,'' Bird said. ''Now she's starting to see where she can be successful. Almost a 180 in terms of her aggressiveness.''
Loyd was the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft in April after deciding to leave Notre Dame after her junior year.
She's part of a rookie class that didn't produce an All-Star this year, but has provided valuable talent to teams.
''There is a lot of talent across the board,'' New York coach Bill Laimbeer said. ''There may not be that dominant player yet, but they're still players providing important things.''
New York has two stellar rookies of its own in Kiah Stokes and Brittany Boyd. Stokes already set the franchise record for blocks in a game with eight against Connecticut. She's second in the league in blocked shots per game averaging 2.4.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Bird became the first player to score 5,000 points and get 2,000 assists when she reached the scoring plateau on Sunday in New York. While it came in a loss, Bird was still happy for a chance to do it in front of her hometown fans.
''It's pretty cool,'' Bird said. ''Rare that your family and friends are in the arena for that. If it was going to be somewhere this isn't a bad place.''
Bird is in 13th place on the league's all-time scoring list.
WELCOME BACK: Candace Parker made her return to the Los Angeles Sparks after sitting out the first half of the season to rest. She's averaging 20 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists in her three games. The Sparks are 2-1 since the two-time MVP returned.
HONORING BECKY: The New York Liberty honored former star Becky Hammon, putting the San Antonio Spurs assistant coach in their ring of honor Sunday at halftime of their game against the Seattle Storm. Hammon helped the Liberty reach the WNBA Finals three times, including getting New York within a game of the championship in 1999. She played for the Liberty from 1999-2006 and ranks second in franchise history for games played and 3-pointers made, and is third on New York's career scoring list.
The 5-foot-6 guard went on to play eight more seasons in San Antonio before retiring at the end of last year. She then joined the Spurs' staff as the first full-time paid female assistant coach in the NBA.
She coached the Spurs to a summer league title in Las Vegas last month.
GAME OF THE WEEK: Lynx at Mercury on Friday night. The top two teams in the Western Conference will square off as Phoenix hosts Minnesota. The Lynx are 3-0 since acquiring Sylvia Fowles in a trade last week. Phoenix has looked strong since the return of Brittney Griner from her suspension, winning nine of its 12 games.
Follow Doug on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg