WNBA Finals 2019: Jonquel Jones dominates, leads Sun to crucial victory over Mystics in Game 2
Jones recorded the first 30-15 game in Finals history, finishing with 32 points and 18 rebounds
The 2019 WNBA Finals are all squared up at 1-1 after the Connecticut Sun went on the road and picked up a 99-87 victory over the Washington Mystics in Game 2 on Tuesday night. After a strong performance in Game 1, Elena Delle Donne leftwith back spasms, and didn't return.
Without her, the Mystics weren't able to keep up with the Sun, who secured a much-needed victory to even the series. Jonquel Jones put together the first 30-15 game in Finals history, finishing with 32 points and 18 rebounds, the latter of which was a Finals record. Alyssa Thomas also played a strong all-around game, going for 21 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, while Courtney Williams kept up her hot shooting to add 22 points.
Emma Meesseman led the Mystics with 23 points, and their bench outscored the Sun reserves 52-9, but it wasn't enough. Now, the series shifts back to Connecticut for a pivotal Game 3 on Sunday. On the one hand, Delle Donne has some extra time to recover, but on the other hand, the Sun were 15-2 at home this season, and can close things out by defending their home court.
Here are some key takeaways from the Sun's big road win:
Delle Donne goes down
By far the biggest takeaway from this game, perhaps even more important than the result, is Delle Donne's struggle with back spasms. Just a few minutes into this game, she checked out and went straight to the locker room with what the team later announced was back spasms. She didn't return, and a report from ESPN's Holly Rowe on air indicated that EDD has been dealing with a back issue for a few days, and missed most of practice ahead of Game 2.
The Mystics led 7-6 when she checked out of the game, but by the end of the first quarter, the Sun had built a 29-17 lead. Though the Mystics eventually worked their way back into the game, they were dominated on the glass -- Jonquel Jones set a WNBA Finals record with 18 rebounds -- and couldn't score when it mattered. After cutting the Sun's lead to 86-83 with 4:15 left, the Mystics only scored four points down the stretch.
This is now the second straight season that Delle Donne has been injured in the playoffs. She hyperextended her knee in the semifinals last season, and was not herself in the Finals as the Mystics were swept by the Seattle Storm.
Jonquel Jones shows up
This was a breakout season for Jones, who finished third in MVP voting after averaging 14.6 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.3 steals and two blocks per game. All season long, she was the Sun's best player, delivering on both ends of the floor. But in Game 1, she wasn't good enough. She wasn't bad, per say, but 12 points and six rebounds isn't going to get the job done on the road in the Finals.
In Game 2, she showed up. There's no doubt that she was aided by the absence of Delle Donne, but that doesn't take away from what she did on Tuesday night, which was put together the first 30-15 game in Finals history and set a Finals rebounding record. When the final buzzer sounded, she had accumulated 32 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks, despite playing much of the second half with foul trouble.
Down 1-0 on the road in the playoffs is exactly when you need your best player to step up, and Jones delivered in a big way in Game 2. Getting the win mattered most for the Sun, but they had to be thrilled to see Jones play like this in the biggest game of her career.
Sun dominate the glass
These were two were among some of the best rebounding teams in the regular season; the Sun finished second in rebounding percentage at 52.5 percent, while the Mystics were right behind them in third at 51.4 percent. But on this night, there was no contest in that department. Thanks in large part to Delle Donne's absence, the Sun absolutely dominated on the glass, out-rebounding the Mystics 41-27.
A big part of that was on the offensive glass, where the Sun held a 17-6 advantage and showed why they were a superior offensive rebounding team this season. As a result of their work on the boards, they were able to score 27 second-chance points compared to just 10 for the Mystics.
Not only was that a 17-point difference in a game they won by 12, but those points are just devastating to the Mystics. It's hard enough to force a miss from this strong Sun offense once, but locking in to try and do it again right away is too tough. Giving up extra opportunities just wears a team down both physically and mentally, as the Mystics found out in Game 2.
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