New York Giants: One veteran corner who could fit the bill after dud Ross Cockrell deal

New York Giants, Aqib Talib

The New York Giants brought in veteran cornerback Ross Cockrell for a visit last week, subsequently deciding that he would be a solid addition to the roster. After DeAndre Baker was placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List and Sam Beal opted out for the 2020 season, the Giants were in need of a supplement at the CB2 position.

Cockrell spent time with the Giants back in 2017, starting in nine games and racking up 50 combined tackles, 11 passes defended, and three interceptions. However, the deal between Cockrell and the Giants fell through on Tuesday morning. Just as they failed to bring him back in after the 2017 campaign, Cockrell decided to take his talents elsewhere. According to Tom Rock of Newsday sports, it is believed that the deal wasn’t as sweet as Cockrell hoped for.

In the wake of the busted deal, let’s take a look at one cornerback who the Giants should consider as a free agent:

At 34 years old, Aqib Talib might not be the most sought after free agent cornerback on the market. Between the years of 2013 and 2017, Talib earned five Pro-Bowl appearances and one First-Team All-Pro appearance. Last season with the Los Angeles Rams, Talib played in just five games, tallying 14 combined tackles and two passes defended. Through those five games, he only allowed it a 58.1 percent completion rate but gave up three touchdowns.

Ultimately, Talib has taken a serious step back due to age and degradation. Allowing three touchdowns in five games over the same number of targets experienced in 2018 (31) was horrendous. However, he would be a cheap veteran potentially, and the Giants are in need of someone to compete with experience.

Currently, the Giants host a bevy of young players who will also complete at the position. Julian Love, Darnay Holmes, Corey Ballantine, and Chris Williamson will all utilize training camp to claw their way to the starting team. However, Love is more used as a utility man at strong safety and isn’t the fastest player at the corner position. That was a primary reason the Giants elected to transition him to safety, after posting subpar 40-yard dash times at the combine.

However, Holmes has a similar frame to Janoris Jenkins and played boundary corner for UCLA predominantly. Many analysts projected him as a nickel corner in the NFL, but I wouldn’t rule out the idea of Holmes competing for reps at CB2.

Nonetheless, bringing a veteran like Talib would immediately provide value at the position and a stopgap player until the Giants can find a more secure option.

New York Yankees: Peculiar situation indicates Aaron Judge could have a slight injury

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

The New York Yankees overcame a strong Atlanta Braves team 9-6 on Tuesday evening in the first game of a two-game series. After taking an 8-0 lead entering the sixth inning, starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery gave up a three-run home run to draw the Braves within five. Luckily, the Yankees bullpen was able to stifle a comeback attempt by Atlanta, with Zack Britton securing the save.

However, after a fifth-inning homer by Aaron Judge, a slight wince rounding second base confused the masses. Manager Aaron Boone immediately pulled Judge from the game but did not indicate any concern over an injury.

The New York Yankees are finally out of the Trop:

After enjoying an off day on Monday, the Yankees travel back to the Bronx for a home series, finally. They had previously lost a four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays on the turf at Tropicana Field. Playing on turf is oftentimes tough on your joints and knees, due to the lack of cushion from artificial grass.

Following the contest, Boone stated he is “just trying to be smart with everyone,” regarding the decision to pull Judge from the game.

With the Yankees leading by a significant margin, taking him out could be justified by the lead. Judge was seen hanging out in the dugout during the bottom half of the sixth inning but then went to the clubhouse for the remainder of the game.

It is possible that Judge could be working through a slight injury, but it doesn’t seem that to be anything serious. Judge missed a few days of work with a stiff neck a few weeks ago, but his stellar performance at the plate, hitting .290 with a .758 slugging percentage, indicates that he is at the top of his game. Hopefully, nothing serious will come of this peculiar situation, and he will be back in the starting lineup on Wednesday.

Do the New York Yankees have a problem at shortstop in Gleyber Torres?

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

When the New York Yankees let Didi Gregorius walk in free agency last year, some were perplexed at the decision, and others were happy to see Gleyber Torres make the step up to starter. In 2019, Gleyber Torres played 77 games at shortstop while Gregorius healed from Tommy John surgery. Over those 77 games, Torres recorded 11 errors and a .961 fielding percentage. He turned 40 double plays, eighth fewer than his 48 at second base in 65 games.

Gregorius, on the other hand, played in 80 games at shortstop for the Bombers, allowing six errors with a .979 fielding percentage and 48 double plays. Ultimately, he was one of the most liked Yankees on the team, and letting him go was a tough decision, but one that was meant to propel Torres.

How has Torres fared in 2020, so far?

Through 17 games, Torres has allowed four errors, with his last being on Tuesday evening against the Atlanta Braves. He nearly had a second that pulled Luke Voit off first base on a high throw. Despite his errors, manager Aaron Boone believes he’s been fantastic at the position.

“I think he’s been really good. You look at the Tampa series and I thought he played really well.”

“That ball ran up on him a little bit with (reliever Luis) Cessa in there that first (time),” Boone said, regarding Torres’ error on Thursday. “I know he’s a little frustrated with that. But I feel like overall, while he’s kind of finding his way offensively right now, I feel like overall the defense has been strong.”

Up to this point, it has been Torres‘ bat that has struggled to get going. After having a dominant 2019 season with a .278 batting average, 38 homers, and 90 RBIs, he is hitting a paltry .151 with one homer and two RBIs this year. It was only a matter of time before Torres came crashing back to earth, but one slight cold streak should not amount to any consistent negative thoughts. Torres is a phenomenal player and has plenty of baseball left in front of him with the New York Yankees, so giving him more time to develop at shortstop is a priority and essential for his growth.

There is another option next year:

However, some believe he is not the answer at shortstop and would rather the Yankees go out and sign Francisco Lindor. Lindor is one of the best shortstops in Major League Baseball. At 26 years old, he has earned All-Star status four consecutive years in a row and has ranked no less than 15th in MVP voting. Lindor’s offensive and defensive dominance has been obvious, but the Yankees feel they have a similar player in Torres, but waiting for him to develop into a quality defender is the catch.

Do you think Torres is the answer at shortstop? Comment below!

The UFC Has Room To Schedule Some Big Fights; But What Matchups Are A Must See Before The Year Is Up?

UFC, Jon Jones

2020 has been an unusual year for sports.  When humanity was struck with a global pandemic that disrupted and uprooted millions of lives, a return to normalcy and stability seemed out of reach, even for the realm of pro sports.  But despite the upheaval, the UFC has managed to stay relevant and has produced exciting fights all year.

Coming out of the gates hot with a thrilling clash between Jon Jones and Dominick Reyes in the beginning of February, to debatably the fight of the year between Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk in early March, the UFC continued to generate excellent fights despite all the setbacks from COVID (ESPN).  Whether it was the jaw-dropping bout between Justin Gaethje and Tony Ferguson in the beginning of May, to the fierce battle between Dan Hooker and Dustin Poirier, to a fight island showdown in Abu Dhabi featuring Max Holloway versus Alexander Volkanovski and Kamaru Usman versus Jorge Masvidal, 2020 has been a legendary year for the UFC; and believe it or not, it’s far from over.

With the highly anticipated heavyweight title fight between Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic less than a week away and the Khabib/Gaethje showdown already set for October, Dana White continued to build upon this exciting year by recently announcing that middleweight champion Israel Adesanya will be defending his belt against Paulo Costa come September 19th (ESPN).  But outside of these three bouts, there’s still plenty of big fights to be had before the year is up.  With a handful of cards still yet to be announced or even filled, Dana White has a lot of room to work with and it’s only a matter of time before more big fights will be scheduled.

However, the lingering question that has yet to be answered, is which fights should the UFC set up before the end of 2020?  Here’s my top five must-see fights before the year concludes:

#5 Kamaru Usman vs Gilbert Burns: After a clinical victory against Masvidal in July, Usman virtually looks untouchable in his division.  After taking out Tyron Woodley to get the belt, Usman pounded Colby Covington and dominated Masvidal, leaving pretty much no one left to fight besides Gilbert Burns.  Initially scheduled to fight each other in July (before Burns was diagnosed with the coronavirus), Burns remains to be the most dangerous contender left for Usman to check off his list and is one of the most underrated challengers he’s yet to face.  Coming off a 6-fight winning streak, Burns is strong wrestler with knockout power that flattened veteran Demian Maia earlier in March (ESPN).  Ever since he’s moved up from 155 to 170, Burns has adapted extremely well and has proven how deadly he can be with the strength he’s put on.  Although Usman just fought, this is a big fight White might want to reschedule at the end of the year.  We all know Usman and Burns will face each other at some point; it’s just a matter of when.

#4 Tony Ferguson vs Dustin Poirier: Yes, it can’t be said enough!  This fight speaks for itself in every which way possible.  With Tony Ferguson sitting at third in the lightweight rankings and Dustin Poirier in second, this fight would decide who is worthier for the next title shot, something both fighters have been longing to reclaim (UFC).  If you thought the Poirier/Hooker fight was good, this clash has the potential to be much better, considering that both fighters are two of the best strikers in the UFC.  What’s unique about this fight is that surprisingly, it’s never happened before, presenting a very new and unfamiliar challenge for both Ferguson and Poirier.  Whether Dana White will schedule this fight prior to Gaethje’s and Khabib’s showdown in October, is still uncertain.  But there’s no reason why it can’t happen.  And ending the year with a fight between Poirier and Ferguson, would cap off an incredible 2020 for the UFC.

#3 Petr Yan vs Marlon Moraes: If you had the opportunity to watch Petr Yan fight in UFC 251 when he took on Jose Aldo, you can understand why this young Russian fighter is the new champion of the bantamweight division.  Over the course of almost five full rounds, Yan gradually increased the pace and pressure against Aldo, hammering down power shots with precision and authority that led to a brutal KO/TKO finish (ESPN).  Although Aldo is certainly an elite fighter, he’s not in his prime anymore and is currently sitting outside of the top five in the division (UFC).  Marlon Moraes on the other hand, is one of the best fighters in the bantamweight division and is the number one contender as well.  Coming off a victory against Jose Aldo last December, Moraes is eager to get his redemption after losing badly to Henry Cejudo roughly a year ago (ESPN).  In addition, there’s really no one else for Moraes to fight outside of Cody Garbrandt, who has recently been scheduled to fight the flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo in November (ESPN).  I wouldn’t expect this matchup to be announced soon, but everyone saw just what kind of fighter Yan is.  And setting him up with the most dangerous opponent in his division, would make for an electrifying showdown.  If there’s one big bantamweight fight that White should schedule before the end of the year, it has to be this one.

#2 Jon Jones vs Thiago Santos: The first time this fight happened, it was nearly impossible not to cringe at the gimpy effort from Thiago Santos after he suffered ACL, MCL, PCL, and Meniscus injuries against Jon Jones that night.  In addition, what made it more frustrating is that before his knee blew out, Santos was putting together a good fight.  And for it to end like that, was simply disappointing and calls for a rematch.  After Jones scraped by with a controversial unanimous decision victory against Reyes in his previous fight, it’s unlikely a rematch between the two of them would happen this year.  But at 36 years-old and with over a year of rest, it’s time for Santos to get back into the octagon and fulfill his legacy before he fades out of his prime.  Don’t forget, Santos is still listed as the #2 contender in the light-heavyweight division under the UFC rankings; and a rematch against Jones this year, is only fitting.

#1 Zabit Magomedsharipov vs Brian Ortega: That’s your number one fight?! Absolutely! We just saw the rematch between Volkanovski and Holloway; so any fight relating to those two gentlemen, could be out of reach for the remainder of the year.  But on the contrary, Zabit Magomedsharipov and Brian Ortega haven’t fought in a very long time (Zabit’s last fight was in November and Ortega’s was in December of 2018…). Ortega, who came off a brutal loss to Holloway, is in dire need of a bounce back victory.  Moreover, Zabit is one of the deadliest strikers in the division right now, which grants Ortega a great opportunity to prepare himself for a title shot against Holloway or Volkanovski if the time comes.  Don’t forget that Ortega has been a sitting duck at the #2 overall position in his divisional rankings for far too long now (UFC).  And if you’re going to own that position, then you have to step up and take on the big fights that come with it, and Zabit is a suitable opponent for Ortega’s return.  Although Zabit recently called out Volkanovski for the belt, the only two, notable fighters he’s defeated in his division consist of Calvin Kattar and Jeremy Stephens, which doesn’t speak much volume for a title contender (ESPN).  However, a victory against Ortega would place Zabit immediately into the title shot position he’s looking for, and that’s an opportunity he should embrace since it’s unclear if Volkanovski will want to return to the octagon this year.  When all is said and done, this matchup is number one on my list because it has everything to be a thrilling showdown, that at the same time, contains so much at stake for both fighters.  And if the UFC could set this up, the fans would be in store for a special treat.

New York Yankees Previews: Yankees look for a sweep of the Atlanta Braves tonight at the Stadium

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

Last night the New York Yankees created a record by winning a game that allowed them 26 straight series without a loss.  The Yankees rebounded from a series against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field when they went 1-3 in the series.  Last night they righted the ship winning over the Atlanta Braves in a 9-6 victory.

The New York Yankees started out this short season at a torrid rate, winning the first eight of nine games. But since then and before last night’s win, they went 2-5. Although their powerful lineup has performed well with 27 home runs in just 17 games, their starting pitching with the exception of Gerrit Cole has been suspect.

On an encouraging note James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and Jordan Montgomery have improved in their most recent outings. The Yankees seem to have lost faith in J.A. Happ after two poor outings.  They have taken the opportunity of a day off on Thursday to skip his place in the rotation.

Tonight as the Yankees look for the sweep of the Braves, they will send out Mashiro Tanaka to get that job done.  Tanaka had the only win against the Rays in the last series.  He pitched five innings of one-hit ball with no walks and no runs crossing the plate.  Late in summer camp, Tanaka was hit on the head by a comebacker from fellow teammate Giancarlo Stanton.  He has fully recovered from that injury.  The Yankees tonight will hope that Tanaka can continue where he left off in the Rays game.  In this third start, the Yankees would like to see him go into the sixth or seventh inning.

When the Yankees take the field tonight at the Stadium they will face Atlanta Braves pitcher right-hander Huascar Ynoa (pronounced Hass-car Yeah-no).  This will be Ynoa’s second start as an opener. His season debut came on Sunday as part of a doubleheader against the Phillies and the 22-year-old righty looked good in a limited stint, surrendering one run on a hit and a walk across 2 1⁄3 innings. Ynoa would not be the Brave’s choice to start tonight’s game. The Braves like the Boston Red Sox are in sorry shape for pitching at the start of this short season. Mike Soroka is hurt, Cole Hamels still hasn’t pitched off a mound, and Felix Hernandez has opted out of the season.

After tonight’s game, the Yankees will have a day off tomorrow before facing the Boston Red Sox in a four-game series starting Friday and ending Monday at the Stadium. Gerrit Cole will start that series, with James Paxton likely to follow.

UFC: Dana White’s Contender Series Week 2 Contract Winners

UFC, Dana White

Last night, the UFC president’s Contender Series had it second successful week after it’s return. The Contender Series has been turning out top talent for the last few years for the promotion.

The night was filled with five fights that delivered. Normally, Dana White hands out two or three contracts when there are five fights. However, last night, the UFC president was feeling a little more generous than usual.

Five UFC contracts handed out

White and the UFC signed all five of the fighters who won their fights last night. White joked that he was in a good mood after getting back from his recent vacation. Let’s take a look at the five fighters who are now members of the UFC.

Dustin Stolzfs

Dustin Stoltzfus (13-1) won in the most gruesome fashion last night in his fight. The new UFC middleweight had a solid back and forth battle going on with Joseph Pyfer.

Stoltzfus rolled for a knee bar late in the round, and once that didn’t work, a scramble found him in a position for a takedown. He picked Pyfer up and slammed him to the ground dislocating Pyfer’s elbow in the process.

Stoltzfus looked pretty good everywhere and with his experience, White was willing to give him a UFC contract.

Adrian Yanez

Adrian Yanez (11-3) looked absolutely fantastic last night. He stopped Brady Huang in just 39 seconds with an impressive striking display. The fight earned the bantamweight a UFC contract.

After the fights, White labeled Yanez as a sniper. The 26 year old bantamweight will now enter one of the deepest divisions in the UFC. He will enter his first octagon trip on a four fight winning streak that features three TKO’s.

Cory McKenna

The one fighter that had White the most on the fence about was Cory McKenna (5-1). McKenna came into last night as the underdog facing Crystal Demopoulos. However, the Team Alpha Male fighter was able to prove the odds makers wrong.

White wasn’t sure that she was ready for the UFC. McKenna is just 20 years old and still has a lot to learn and improve on. She does have five wins to her record now, and White decided to give her a shot.

She comes out of one of the better camps, and being just 20, she hasn’t even scratched the surface of what she’s capable of. Her only career loss came via split decision, but other than that, she’s looked very good in her young career.

TJ Laramie

TJ Laramie (12-3) was labeled as a savage by the UFC president. Laramie who is just 22 years old looked incredibly impressive last night. He found himself in some compromising positions at times, but the young fighter showed incredible poise.

His opponent, Daniel Swain, had him locked up a few times, but Laramie kept pushing through. Laramie got into a dominant position and landed massive shots on Swain. Swain struggled even getting back to his corner after the first round.

The beating was so bad that Swain couldn’t get off the stool and Laramie won via TKO. Laramie will now head into the UFC‘s featherweight division riding a four fight winning streak.

Impa Kasanganay

Impa Kasanganay (7-0) fought on The Contender Series for the second time last night. Both times, he’s walked away with a unanimous decision victory, but White didn’t seem extremely impressed.

However, with Kasanganay winning twice now, White was willing to give him a shot. One of the reasons why White was willing to do so is Kasanganay’s willingness to fight.

Kasanganay will be getting a very quick turnaround for his first official fight in the UFC. According to White in the post-fight press conference, Kasanganay will be taking on Maki “Coconut Bombz” Pitolo on August 22nd.

Why the New York Giants’ defense could struggle in 2020

New York Giants, Patrick Graham

The New York Giants have made it a priority to build around youth, especially on defense where they had seven rookies starting at one point in 2019. While this is good for the overhauling of the roster and establishment of a new regimen, the Giants haven’t been able to rely on any sort of consistency.

After the 2019 season, the Giants fired head coach Pat Shurmur, defensive coordinator James Bettcher, and several coaches. The defense had shown signs of life at times under Bettcher, but a heavy zone scheme played against their player’s strengths.

Bettcher utilized a very versatile and intricate system, and incumbent defensive coordinator Patrick Graham will bring a mesh of different concepts.

When asked about his schematic beliefs, Graham gave a simple answer: “Yes.”

Former Giant, Avery Moss, stated that Bettcher’s scheme was one of the most difficult he’s ever been a part of. Graham’s simply makes sense and offers a more siplisitic approach.

How will the New York Giants operate on defense?

Graham will look to be multiple with his system and defense, utilizing 4-3 and 3-4 base defenses. The diversity Graham promotes should create an adaptive defense, which can change based on the opponent. That’s the ultimate goal with any defense, changing the style of play to fit the strengths of the opposing offense. Whether they have a strong passing game, a strong running game, or both, the goal is for the Giants’ defense to hold up and bend but not break.

Often than not, the Giants’ defense was steamrolled in 2019, mainly due to a lack of experience and talent at nearly every position.

However, installing an intricate defense will not be an easy feat. The Giants will need time for their young players to adapt and develop within the system that Graham implements. That is why I believe the defense will struggle in 2020, especially without the significant reps during the preseason available. They will transition from training camp directly into the regular season, which will hurt the progression of the team and likely create confusion on both sides of the ball with new systems.

However, with a strong coaching staff in place, the Giants can hopefully put their team in a position of success. The 2020 campaign was always going to be problematic due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Utilizing it as a rebuilding year with the installment of new schematics makes the most sense, so I wouldn’t anticipate the Giants being a well-rounded team in the first year of coaching overhaul.

EXTRA:

Graham was quietly excited about interior defensive lineman Leonard Williams, mentioning his versatility.

He was also keen to mention Dexter Lawrence’s size and how excited he is to get him active on defense.

 

New York Yankees Recap: Yankees rebound in the Bronx with 9-6 win over the Braves

New York Yankees, Luke Voit

Last night the New York Yankees needed a win, after a poor series they lost to the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend, and that’s what they got. Jordan Montgomery pitched five innings of scoreless ball, and Luke Voit and Mike Ford powered the Yankee offense with three RBI’s apiece.

The Yankees got off to a fast start last night at Yankee Stadium.  Luke Voit, with DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks on base, hit a long blast into the left-field stands for the first for the 3-0 lead. For Voit, it was his fifth home run of the year with 11 runs batted in.

At the top of the third inning, Montgomery allowed to runners but got out of the inning scoreless. At the bottom of the frame, the Yankees loaded the bases.  Gleyber Torres reached on an error, driving in LeMahieu for the Yankee 4-0 lead. Following Torres, Mike Ford hit a two-run double to the centerfield wall scoring Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks, and it was Yankee 6-0. At the bottom of the fifth inning, Aaron Judge hit a bullet of a line drive that hit the Toyota sign over the bullpen in right-center, for his ninth home run of the year. Yankees 7 Braves 0. The Judge home run was measured at 422′.

Also in the fifth, Mike Ford struck again with a ground out that scored Aaron Hicks from third base for the Yankee 8-0 lead. All was not positive for the Yankees last night, in the Bronx.  At the top of the sixth inning after pitching so well, Montgomery gave up a three-run homer to Marcell Ozuna. David Hale came on in relief of Montgomery in the seventh and allowed two men on.  Ottavino followed him on the mound and run scored when the duo of Torres and LeMahieu committed their second error of the night. Yankees 8 Braves 4.

At the bottom of the seventh Mike Ford again hit a double driving in a run, the New York Yankees final run of the game, and it was 9-4 Yankees. Camargo in the top of the eighth with one on doubles to the centerfield wall.  Duvall from first beat out the throw to the plate and it was 9-5 Yankees. Luis Cessa allowed another run in the inning for the final score of New York Yankees 9 and the Atlanta Braves 6.

In the top of the ninth with last licks for the Braves, Zack Britton got his sixth save of the season.

With the win last night the Yankees set a recond when they went 26 straight series at Yankees Stadium without a loss.  The winning pitcher was Jordan Montgomery, the loser was Touki Toussaint, and Britton got the save.  Both DJ LeMahieu and Gleyer Torres were charged with errors in the game.  Chad Green continued his dominant pitching coming in the eighth to get the final two outs of the inning.

The Major takeaways in the game were the Monty win his second of the season.  Mike Fords hitting, Aaron Judge’s ninth homer of the year and of course the Luke Voit 3 run bomb.  On the negative side, the Yankees have some infield work to do, to solve those two sloppy plays that caused the infield errors. In the game, Voit was hit by a pitch and Gary Sanchez was charged with a passed ball.

As for Montgomery, this was bounce-back win after a poor showing in his last outing.  Montgomery this year is the fifth man in the rotation, replacing Luis Severino and Domingo German.  Although he is doing an okay job, the Yankees would like to see him increase his fastball which hovers around 90 mph.  He has good stuff, but an increase in his fastball velocity would create more consistency and more wins.

On Wednesday night the New York Yankees will go for the sweep of the Braves, before a day off.  On Friday the Yankees will host the Boston Red Sox for a four-game series that will end on Monday.  The last time the Red Sox were at Yankee Stadium they were swept in a game set.

 

New York Liberty: Jazmine Jones earns another career high in late loss to LA (Highlights)

An infantile career-best for Jazmine Jones wasn’t enough to make up for a flat first quarter from the New York Liberty on Tuesday night.

Doomed by a brutal first quarter, the New York Liberty still managed to keep the theme of wrangling positives from a tough loss.

Sydney Wiese and Riquana Williams of the Los Angeles Sparks combined scored 17 points each on a combined 8-of-12 shooting from three-point range, keying a 93-78 victory over New York on late Tuesday night. Liberty rookie Jazmine Jones led all scorers with a young personal-best 24 in defeat.

“I think tonight was more of a team-focused loss,” head coach Walt Hopkins said. “I thought we had some really good individual defensive efforts. Points off of turnovers just absolutely killed us, 26 turnovers for 24 points. Otherwise, I thought that this team was remarkably resilient. It would’ve been easy to lie down and let that be a 30-point game. They just refused to let that happen. I’m proud of them for how tough they are.”

The Liberty (1-7) came out flat in the opening stages of a late tip-off, falling victim to the Sparks’ sharp-shooting from deep. Los Angeles (5-3) sank 6-of-7 three-point attempts in the first ten minutes, creating a 28-14 lead at the first stoppage. From that point on, New York was only able to come as close as nine points despite losing by only one point over the final three stages.

Jones was the most consistent silver lining for the Liberty, coming off the bench to score 24 points and swipe five balls. The Louisville alumna was the 12th and final pick of the WNBA Draft’s first-round back in April.

“Jaz was a much, much-needed spark (especially) in that first quarter,” Hopkins said. “We were having trouble scoring and she kind of willed us, willed us back into that first quarter and kind of gave us some momentum going forward.”

Yet, Jones was willing to sacrifice it all for a win and focused primarily on her five turnovers in her postgame statements. The Liberty turned the ball over 26 times in their latest downfall. Jones also made it clear that her young, historic effort meant little in the context of another loss, saying “I would’ve taken 5 points and us winning rather than 24 and us losing”.

“I had five turnovers myself. For me, personally, that’s unacceptable,” Jones said. “I’m really hard on myself about turning the ball over and I only had one assist too. Being a backup point guard, I can’t come in and turn the ball over. Those five turnovers are unacceptable.”

Five players reached double figures for the Sparks, who won back-to-back games for the first time this season. New York put up a strong performance at the foul line, converting all but one of their 23 attempts. The two squads will meet up against on September 8 in the latter stages of the Liberty’s Bradenton bubble season.

The Liberty return to action on Thursday evening, taking on the Indiana Fever for the first time this season (6 p.m. ET, YES).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags