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New York Liberty lose another heartbreaker amidst Tina Charles history (Highlights)

The New York Liberty endured another tough home loss on Tuesday, but Tina Charles became the leading scorer in team history.

Geoff Magliocchetti

New York sports history was made on Tuesday afternoon. Alas, like so many other recent athletic happenings in the metropolitan area, it was tainted by another loss.

Tina Charles became the all-time leading scorer in New York Liberty history at Westchester County Center. Her fourth quarter double earned the 3,248th point of her New York tenure, passing Vickie Johnson.

But the history wasn’t enough to end the Liberty’s lengthy losing streak. Behind a career-best 29 points from Chelsea Gray, the Los Angeles Sparks topped the Liberty 78-73. It’s New York’s 16th consecutive defeat, dating back to last season.

The Liberty (0-3) have lost their first two home games by a combined six points. Members of the team remained optimistic in the face of another brutal loss.

“We kept (Los Angeles) on their heels. We had a patch where we had empty possessions. I think that got us,” Charles analyzed. “Other than that, I think everyone who stepped on the court gave their best effort.”

The team unanimously agreed that Tuesday’s effort was a huge step up from a blowout loss last Saturday night.

“It (stinks) to lose always. We’re getting tired and sick of it. But it’s definitely an improvement,” Amanda Zahui B. added. “I feel like I speak for the whole group when I say we’re playing way better.”

New York fell behind 11-0 on the road against the Indiana Fever and never recovered. Against the Sparks (2-1), they held a five-point lead in the latter stages of the fourth before Los Angeles took over defensively. A quick 7-0 Los Angeles run heading into the two-minute mark gave them the lead for good.

Optimism nonetheless reigned in the New York camp.

“If we do this every single night, compete like this, we’re going to win some ball games,” head coach Katie Smith said. “This was a huge step forward. It was a great response to a disappointing game at Indiana. I thought our defense was locked start to finish. I thought we were taking care of each other. I think it’s a building block.”

Westchester County Center will play host to an immediate chance at redemption on Friday night. The Liberty will battle the visiting Washington Mystics (7:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Go).

Charles wound up with 21 points and 14 rebounds in defeat. She was joined in double-figure sisterhood by Reshanda Gray (12 points) off the bench. Zahui B. earned a career-high 12 rebounds and seven blocks.

After the game, the Queens-born Charles asked for the game ball, which she passed on to her eight-year-old cousin Amari. She broke the mark held by Johnson since 2005 in just her sixth season in aquamarine.

“It means a whole lot. This franchise means the world to me. For that to happen, I would’ve never imagined it, never envisioned it,” she said. “I’m just grateful to play in my city, play in New York. It does mean a lot.”

Charles individually shouted out Gray and Zahui B. for their performances. She also praised the New York fanbase and expressed a bit of a dedication to seeing the process through.

“I know New Yorkers are very dedicated. They’re very loyal. I’m a New Yorker myself,” she said. “There are times where it was snowing and I would still support the Knicks. I know (the fans) are still going to come out and support us.”

On the Sparks’ side, former New York Knicks head coach Derek Fisher earned his second win at the Los Angeles helm. Chiney Ogwumike earned a double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds) and rookie Marina Mabrey put in 10 off the bench.

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