(244805)

After a decisive 85-55 victory over the injury-plagued Washington Mystics, the New York Liberty had one more home game before heading off on a long road trip. Before a nearly packed house on camp day last Wednesday, the Liberty defeated the best team in the East, the Connecticut Sun, 96-80 in a fierce battle that saw every player on the Liberty score.

“The structure that we have right now is good for us,” said coach Bill Laimbeer. “We’re pushing the pace better. We’re getting easier baskets. We have a good role definition to a good degree. We’re not fully there. I think [the players] enjoy what we have right now and it’s been showing in the way we’ve been playing.”

Although Tina Charles was the high scorer with 28 points, she praised the contributions of her teammates. “We have to show forth what we can do individually so we can start trusting one another more and build that continuity within one another, that chemistry and just depending on one another,” said Charles.

After the Connecticut game, most of the Liberty players headed off for a little rest and relaxation while Charles and Sugar Rodgers went to Seattle for the All-Star Game. Charles was voted a starter and Rodgers was selected as a reserve and chosen to participate in the three-point contest.

“I’m just really trying to grasp everything and soak it all in,” said Rodgers before the game. “I’m just kind of blessed to be here. I’m just thankful for the opportunity. It’s been a long time coming for me.”

In a lively, tightly played All-Star Game, the Western Conference All-Stars defeated the East 130-121. The high scorer of the game was the Sun’s Jonquel Jones with 24 points. Rodgers, who finished an impressive second in the three-point contest, had 10 points and Charles had eight. Maya Moore was named MVP.

“I thought it was a great pace,” said Moore, who was asked by first-time All-Stars how hard they should play. “You never want anybody to get hurt, but you also want to play with a certain intensity and show off your athleticism, so I thought we did that.”

The Liberty is on the road this week and next week. The team returns to Madison Square Garden Aug. 8 to face the Indiana Fever.