Liberty

Jones’ MVP Win a Sign of Things to Come

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Since the All-Star break, Jonquel Jones has made one thing abundantly clear — she’s back. 

The New York Liberty beat the Aces 82-63 on Tuesday to win the third-ever Commissioner’s Cup. Jones contributed 16 points and a game-high 15 rebounds en route to winning the Commissioner’s Cup MVP trophy. 

Jones was not only competing on the defensive boards; seven of her 15 rebounds came on the offensive glass, and six of those seven came in the second half. Her efforts led the way for the Liberty, allowing them to out-rebound their opponents 49-28. 

https://twitter.com/nyliberty/status/1691872165107478953

After the game, Las Vegas Aces coach Becky Hammon talked about the impact rebounding had on the game. 

“I thought the third quarter was the one that got away from us, and it got away from us because of the glass,” Hammon said. “It’s those second and third opportunities that are just backbreakers.” 

Breanna Stewart, who poured in 13 points and seven rebounds of her own, noted that crashing the boards was all a part of the game plan. 

“That was a big emphasis from the start of the game to the finish was just continuing to control the boards,” Stewart said before looking down at the box score in front of her. “I mean, JJ had 15, so that’s crazy.” 

ALL SIGNS SUGGEST A TURNING POINT

The game was the culmination of a month-long trend for Jones, in which she’s seen all of her numbers improve since the start of the season. In June, she averaged 10.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. In July, those numbers leapt up to 13.8 and 9.3, respectively. Through five August games so far, she’s at 13.8 points and 11.6 rebounds. Her minutes have also been increasing, signaling more faith and trust in Jones from the coaching staff. 

“Things have been coming better for us after the All-Star [break], and I credit JJ,” Liberty head coach Sandy Brondello said after Tuesday’s win. “She’s really comfortable in the system now, we’re trying to go at her more. She’s just a double-double machine, and that helps us. Rebounding is such a big thing we talked about all season long; we weren’t great at it. But she’s buckling down and doing a fantastic job.” 

During postgame media, Myles Ehrlich of Winsidr asked Jones how she feels about her improvement since the beginning of the season. 

“Me being proud of myself and just being able to figure it out and sticking with it when things weren’t really materializing,” Jones answered. “It’s definitely a high point right now. It feels really good to look at the trophy but also to have the Commissioner’s Cup win. It definitely has a lot of meaning for me. I’m just happy to be able to play good basketball, and I’m feeling like myself out there.” 

WHAT CUP WIN MEANS MOVING FORWARD

The Commissioner’s Cup win comes with more than just bragging rights; each Liberty player will receive a $30,000 prize (Jones will get $35,000 for winning MVP). The league will also donate $10,000 to New York’s chosen charity, the Callen-Lorde Health Center. Callen-Lorde provides affordable healthcare for New York’s LGBTQ+ community. 

The 25-7 Liberty continue their road trip on Thursday in Connecticut.

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About Jack Levenberg

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