At the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, Connecticut Sun coach Mike Thibault watched Kara Lawson play a gold medal game against Australia so clutch some felt it was likely insurmountable.
That day, Lawson led the USA in scoring with 15 points, shooting a perfect 5 of 5 from the field and 4 of 4 from the foul line.
Thibault, an assistant on Anne Donovan’s Olympic staff, was so impressed he stored the highlight reel in his WNBA brain and two years later, after the folding of the Sacramento Monarchs, signed the free agent Lawson for the Sun.
What Thibault anticipated from Lawson is coming to fruition this season. Lawson, 31, is having the kind of year that merits strong consideration for WNBA post-season honor.
Already one of the league’s best-conditioned athletes, certainly one of its most serious, Lawson is bringing Olympic performance to the floor on almost a nightly basis for the Sun.
“My goal this year was to be the best guard in the league,” said Lawson. “I don’t know if other people will judge me or see me that way, but that was the goal coming in.
“In this league, in this game, certain styles sometimes don’t translate to accolades. But certain styles translate to winning. I want to make sure that my style and production translates to wins for my team.”
On Tuesday night, Lawson ended an intense scrum with the last-place Tulsa Shock by burying a 24-footer from the right baseline with 11.8 second to play.
“She doesn’t have any fear,” said Thibault. “I think the great players want to take the big shots.”
Lawson’s fifth three [she was 5-of-6] gave her a team-high 19 points and the Sun a 82-80 overtime win.
“She shot the lights out all night,” said Tulsa coach Gary Kloppenburg. “I aas hoping maybe she’d miss one.”
Lawson has not missed many. She is averaging 14.7 points, far above her career mark [9.6]. She is 45-of-100 from three this season [45.0 percent], well above her career average [39.5]. Each of three-pointers this season also has added purpose, raising $100 each for The Pat Summitt Foundation.
Among WNBA players with over 100 three-point attempts, only San Antonio’s Becky Hammon [50.8] is more accurate this season.
Lawson’s performance has helped the Sun [17-5] build a four-game lead over Indiana in the Eastern Conference. With only 12 games to play, the Sun can virtually wrap up a playoff spot on Sunday by beating fourth-place Chicago at the casino. The Sky trails the Sun by eight games.
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