NEW YORK (AP) — The Connecticut Sun has risen back to the top of the WNBA standings behind solid play from Jonquel Jones and Alyssa Thomas. The Sun received major contributions from the reserves, which scored 45 points in a rout of Atlanta on Friday night.
“When the starters always get referred to as a core group, sometimes as much as I’m trying to build chemistry, I create a little bit of starter (vs.) bench,” Sun coach Curt Miller Said said. “But they (the starters) are terrific and they really cheered them on.
“They were not happy that I put them back in the game in Indiana, they wanted the bench to finish it out. (Against Atlanta) allowing the bench to finish the whole fourth quarter and the starters not going back in, allowed them to really have fun and cheer for that second unit.”
For the Sun to remain successful, they’ll need solid contributions from the bench this season.
The victory was the Sun’s third straight, moving them into a tie for first in the standings with Las Vegas with one game remaining before the All-Star break. The WNBA All-Star Game is Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC.
1. Connecticut (12-6): The Sun moved back to the top of the AP power pool, buoyed by a three-game winning streak. They host New York on Wednesday afternoon.
2. Las Vegas (12-6): The Aces will miss A’ja Wilson for a few weeks after she injured her ankle against Seattle on Friday night. They still have enough offensive weapons to stay near the top of the standings without her.
3. Washington (11-6): Elena Delle Donne returned and Washington won two games, looking like the dominant team it was before she broke her nose on July 7. The Mystics, who lost three games without her, play at Minnesota on Wednesday afternoon.
4. Seattle (12-8): The Storm won four straight and welcomed back Jewell Loyd from her ankle injury. Natasha Howard has been nearly unstoppable the last few games.
5. Chicago (11-8): The Sky won four consecutive games before the break and will be tested with four of the next five on the road.
6. Los Angeles (10-8): The break couldn’t come at a better time — the Sparks have only eight healthy players. Reinforcements should be on the way after the break, with Candace Parker and Alana Beard expected back soon.
7. Minnesota (10-8): The Lynx boast a trio of All-Stars in Odyssey Sims, Sylvia Fowles and rookie Napheesa Collier, who was added to the game as an injury replacement. It’s the seventh time Minnesota has had at least three All Stars — the most in league history.
8. Phoenix (9-8): Injuries have hit the Mercury, missing not only Diana Taurasi (back), but Sancho Lyttle (knee) and Essence Carson (calf).
9. New York (8-10): The Liberty regrouped to beat the Sparks and surpass last season’s win total. They should be at full strength Wednesday when they face Connecticut in a matinee game, with Asia Durr recovered from a minor groin strain.
10. Indiana (6-14): The Fever have dropped five straight games. But they’ve been competitive losses, with three coming by six points or less or in overtime.
11. Atlanta (5-14): The Dream suffered four straight losses, including the last two by an average of 28.5 points.
12. Dallas (5-14): The Wings are already on break and hope to get back to winning.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Delle Donne earned player of the week honors after helping Washington beat Indiana (95-88 in OT) and Atlanta (93-65). She averaged 26.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. Others receiving votes included Howard of Seattle, Brittney Griner of Phoenix and Liz Cambage of Las Vegas.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Team Delle Donne vs Team Wilson on Saturday afternoon. The WNBA All-Star Game will take place in Las Vegas. All-Star captains Delle Donne and Wilson will choose their teams during the first televised draft on ESPN2 at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
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