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Natasha Cloud backs up talk in one of the ‘best games of her career’

(Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

Natasha Cloud may have been talking a lot before the Mystics Game 2 matchup with the Liberty, but she backed it up with a record-breaking performance.

Before the game, Cloud said that Sabrina Ionescu would be in for a “rude awakening” in Game 2. She held Ionescu to just 11 points, a 36.4 percent field goal percentage and just 33.3 percent from three-point range.

“She backed it up,” Mystics coach Eric Thibault said. “It was probably one of the best games of her career.”

“I was going to be a villain and was going to be a dog tonight,” Cloud said postgame. “And I was going to stay on Sabrina for as much as I could. It is what it is. I also want to establish myself. I am a first-team all-defense. I don’t get the credit.”

And for all of the talk, Cloud still holds a lot of respect for Ionescu. The two hugged it out on the court postgame.

“I know I talk s–t, I know I was in Sabrina’s stuff and took a few hard fouls,” she said. “Even though I take that villain role in the game, I have a lot of respect for who Sabrina is, what she is to our league, who she is as a player. Iron sharpens iron, and that’s what I said to her.

“I really do respect her as a player, enough that I had to make her my primary focus in Game 2. But I just wanted to make sure I said that because everyone loves [WNBA] beef. But I talked my s–t and I had to come in and cash that deposit that I made.”

For all of her defensive feats, Cloud was just as good offensively to the point that the Barclays Center crowd cheered her on her way off the court. Her performance caught the eyes of many, including LeBron James.

She had 33 points, six rebounds, nine assists and four steals. In doing so, she became the first player in WNBA playoff history to have 30+ points, 5+ assists, 5+ rebounds and 4+ steals in a game. She also is the first player in WNBA playoffs history to have at least 33 points, nine assists and six rebounds in a game.

Only three other players – Diana Taurasi, Candace Parker and Chelsea Gray – have ever put up those numbers in a WNBA game. And none had more than one steal in those games, which came in the regular season.

“I’ve been in D.C. for eight years,” Cloud said. “This is the only team that looked at me coming out of college. This is the only coaching staff that believed in me. I went through a lot of growing pains throughout my career. To be where I am today, I’m really proud, and I know the young version of myself would be proud.”