Sun drop ‘messy’ messaging and grab a dominant victory against Sky

The Sun beat the Sky with a free-flowing offensive performance, much like what the Sky is known for. They shot 56.9% from the field and 40% from three.

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Sun forward Alyssa Thomas reacts after being fouled while making a basket during Game 4 of the WNBA playoff semifinal against the Sky.

Sun forward Alyssa Thomas reacts after being fouled while making a basket during Game 4 of the WNBA playoff semifinal against the Sky.

Jessica Hill/AP

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Sun general manager/coach Curt Miller’s news conference before a 104-80 rout of the Sky in Game 4 of the WNBA semifinals Tuesday was the first in which he didn’t use the term ‘‘messy’’ to describe the way he wanted his team to play.

After the chippiness of Game 3, which prompted Sky GM/coach James Wade to call Miller’s messaging into question, it appeared Miller changed his narrative. But Game 4 featured the same physicality the entire series has.

The Sun beat the Sky with a free-flowing offensive performance, much like what the Sky is known for. They shot 56.9% from the field and 40% from three-point range.

‘‘So much for messy,’’ Miller said.

Winning response

Sky star Candace Parker has talked a lot about the team’s response after victories. She hasn’t liked the way the Sky have come out after big playoff victories and let their urgency lapse.

The Sky were outplayed in the opening minutes of the first quarter Tuesday, and that set the tone for the rest of the game.

The Sun opened an eight-point lead in the first three minutes and extended it to 16 midway through the quarter. The Sky responded with transition points and cut the Sun’s lead to eight when Allie Quigley made a three-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer, but they trailed by 17 at the half and couldn’t rally in the second half. 

Copper and Parker

After the Sky’s victory Sunday in Game 3, a photographer captured a moment between Parker and teammate Kahleah Copper that defined their relationship well. Parker had her arm draped over Copper’s shoulder and was talking in her ear.

Wade said Copper is someone Parker has taken under her wing, and that moment was a literal expression of their bond.

Copper scored 15 points Sunday, but it was far from her most consistent game. Parker’s message to Copper was about remaining focused and ready.

‘‘Kah has been our emotional leader all season long,’’ Wade said. ‘‘Candace had her back in that moment and let her know, ‘It’s your show. Just be ready to rock and roll.’ ’’

Wade said Copper heeded the message and was ready to go for Game 4. She finished with a team-high 16 points.

Holding (front)court

The Sun’s Brionna Jones was presented her Sixth Player of the Year award by WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert before Game 4.

Miller moved Jones to the bench to make room for a healthy Alyssa Thomas to play alongside Jonquel Jones in the Sun’s starting lineup. Jonquel Jones had led the Sun in scoring with a 13.7-point average in the first three games; Brionna Jones was averaging 10.3 points.

A key for the Sky in Game 4 was containing the Sun’s frontcourt, and they failed to do so. Jonquel Jones made a three-pointer on the Sun’s second possession and finished the first half with nine points and three rebounds. The Sky held her scoreless in the second half, but Thomas scored 17 points and Brionna Jones added 11.

The Sky were outrebounded 39-23 and gave up 15 points on nine offensive rebounds.

The Sun also controlled the paint, outscoring the Sky 66-34 inside.

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