Angel Reese might have gotten knocked down on Saturday, but she got right back up again. 

Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas was ejected from the Sun’s 86-82 win over Chicago following a flagrant foul 2 on Reese — the first of her career. While the two were battling for a rebound, Reese took a clothesline hold around the neck courtesy of Thomas before hitting the ground.

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After the game, Reese told reporters that there were "no hard feelings" and she appreciated Thomas for playing her hard beneath the basket.

"I know she purposely probably didn’t do it towards me," Reese said. "But just being able to come out there and just be strong and stand on two feet, it was going to be a tough game and that’s what I’m built for. And my teammates had my back throughout the whole game. So I was prepared for it."

She also didn’t buy into the idea that it was a "Welcome to the WNBA" moment, but thanked Thomas "sending a message" because it helped her get back up and "keep pushing."

"It’s not just because I’m a rookie. I’m a player. I’m a basketball player. They don’t give a damn if I’m a rookie. I mean, I want them to come at me every day. I want them to come at everybody," she added. "I mean, they’re not supposed to be nice to me. I hope y’all know that. They’re not supposed to be nice to me or lay down because I’m Angel Reese or because I’m a rookie."

Reese finished the game with 13 points, five rebounds, and two assists over 33 minutes.

The New York Liberty have advanced to their first WNBA Finals since 2002, where they will go up against their superteam rival in the Las Vegas Aces.

With the 87-84 win over the Connecticut Sun in Game 4 of the WNBA semifinals, the Liberty clinched a 3-1 series victory. Three of their starters scored 20 points or more to lead New York: Breanna Stewart (27), Jonquel Jones (25) and Betnijah Laney (21).

While the Liberty have four previous WNBA Finals appearances, the last one came in 2002. New York is one of the WNBA’s eight founding franchises, but it has never won a championship.

From the start of the 2023 season, though, the Liberty and the defending champion Aces were the betting favorites to compete in the Finals. Heading into the postseason, FanDuel set -210 odds for a battle of the superteams, followed by +500 for an Aces-Sun meeting.

New York transformed into a contender with a blockbuster offseason, headlined by the signing of the premier free agent in Stewart and the trade for 2021 MVP Jones. Jones finished Sunday’s win with a double-double, posting 15 rebounds in addition to her 25 points. She also had four blocks, including an emphatic stop of Connecticut’s DeWanna Bonner in the final seconds of the first half.

Yet while the Liberty won the day (and the series), Sun forward Alyssa Thomas turned in the most memorable performance.

The 31-year-old star collided with Jones in the fourth quarter, and then she remained on the ground, grimacing in pain. But after spending several minutes in the locker room, she returned to complete the 11th triple-double of her career.

Thomas finished with a team-high 17 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists. She leads the WNBA in career triple-doubles; no other player has more than three. She also has a record three postseason triple-doubles, after recording two in the 2022 WNBA Finals. All other players in league history have combined for two.

The New York Liberty and Las Vegas Aces will start the WNBA Finals next Sunday, Oct. 8, with Game 1 set for a 3 p.m. ET tip-off on ABC.

Alyssa Thomas is leading the triple-double revolution.

Triple-doubles were a rare occurrence through most of WNBA history. Then came the year of the triple-double, with nine recorded during the 2022 season. And the pace has not slowed in 2023, with 11 as of Oct. 1.

Give credit to Thomas for the explosion. The Connecticut Sun forward recorded the first of her career on July 22, 2022, but finished that season with four — breaking the WNBA career record. And on Oct. 1, she recorded her seventh of 2023.

Thomas is the only WNBA player with more than two triple-doubles in a single season.

“Even myself as a coach, you have to intentionally tell yourself to not take these moments for granted,” Sun head coach Stephanie White said. “Like it just seems so routine that Alyssa Thomas gets a triple-double or close to a triple-double or a double-double. … It’s not routine, it’s exceptional.”

Five other players have recorded multiple triple-doubles: Candace Parker (3), Sabrina Ionescu (3), Sheryl Swoopes (2), Courtney Vandersloot (2) and Chelsea Gray (2).

“I think the game is changing,” Parker said following her third career triple-double in June 2022. “I think we’re gonna very soon see this on a nightly basis. We’re going to see those playmakers who have the ball in their hands.”

How many triple-doubles have been recorded in WNBA history?

In total, 31 triple-doubles have been recorded across the league’s 27 seasons, with 26 during the regular season and five during the playoffs. The 31 triple-doubles have come from 14 total players.

Swoopes recorded the first playoff triple-double in 2005, while Vandersloot did so in 2021. Thomas joined the club with two in the 2022 WNBA Finals, and then added another in the 2023 semifinals.

Sheryl Swoopes (2)

Swoopes recorded the league’s first-ever triple-double on July 27, 1999, while playing for the Houston Comets. She recorded 14 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists. She would later get her second triple-double on September 3, 2005, with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Margo Dydek

While with the Utah Starzz, Dydek had 12 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocks on June 7, 2001. Dydek remains the only WNBA player to have recorded a triple-double through blocks and not assists.

Lisa Leslie

Leslie set a new bar on September 9, 2004, recording 29 points, 15 rebounds and 10 blocks for the Los Angeles Sparks. That stood as the record for most points in a triple-double until Ionescu broke it in 2022.

Deanna Nolan

On May 21, 2005, Nolan recorded the first of two triple-doubles that year. That 2005 season became the first with multiple triple-doubles. She had 11 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists for the Detroit Shock.

Temeka Johnson

As a member of the Seattle Storm, Johnson recorded 13 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists on July 24, 2014.

Candace Parker (3)

It took nine seasons for Parker to record her first triple-double. On July 28, 2017, she had 11 points, 17 rebounds and 15 assists for the Los Angeles Sparks.

Her other two came with the Chicago Sky in 2022, with Parker recording the first triple-double of the year on May 22, with 16 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. While she became the oldest player to record a triple-double in WNBA history in that game, she later became the first player to record three triple-doubles in league history with another on June 23 (10 points, 10 rebounds, 14 assists).

Courtney Vandersloot (2)

Vandersloot recorded the first of her two triple-doubles on July 20, 2018, with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists. She registered her second triple-double during the 2021 postseason, notching 14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Chelsea Gray (2)

As a member of the Los Angeles Sparks, Gray recorded a triple-double on July 7, 2019. She had 13 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists.

In 2023, she notched the second of her career with the Aces in a rivalry win over the Liberty. She finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.

Sabrina Ionescu (3)

Ionescu’s first triple-double came on May 18, 2021, when she recorded 26 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists — the highest point total since Leslie’s triple-double in 2004.

She bested that number with a 27-point, 13-rebound and 12-assist performance on June 12, 2022. Then, against the Aces on July 7, Ionescu set the record for points in a triple-double with 31 — the first 30-plus-point triple-double. She added 13 rebounds and 10 assists in that game.

Moriah Jefferson

Jefferson added her name to the list on June 28, 2022, with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for the first triple-double in Minnesota Lynx history.

Courtney Williams

On June 30, 2023, Williams contributed 12 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists for the Chicago Sky in a win over the Los Angeles Sparks.

Satou Sabally

The Dallas Wings’ Satou Sabally recorded her first triple-double on July 28, 2023, putting up 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in the Dallas Wings’ win over the Washington Mystics.

She is the second player in Wings history to achieve a triple-double, joining Deanna Nolan. Nolan had one in 2005 when the franchise was in Detroit.

Sug Sutton

The final pick of the 2020 WNBA Draft at No. 36 overall, Sutton has bounced around the league over the last four seasons, but she inked her name in the history books with her first triple-double on Sept. 8, 2023. The 24-year-old guard had 18 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for the Phoenix Mercury in a 94-73 loss to the Las Vegas Aces.

Alyssa Thomas (11)

Thomas recorded the first triple-double of her career and the first in Connecticut Sun history on July 22, 2022. The star forward tallied 15 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.

Less than two weeks later, on Aug. 2, 2022, Thomas posted 10 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists to become just the third player in WNBA history to record multiple triple-doubles in a single season — joining Parker and Ionescu, who also did so in 2022.

She added yet another — and the first in WNBA Finals history — on Sept. 15, with 16 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists in a Game 3 win against the Las Vegas Aces. Then she followed it up with still another in the team’s series-clinching loss to Las Vegas, notching 11 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds to become the first WNBA player to post back-to-back triple-doubles.

On June 20, 2023, Thomas posted her fifth career triple-double, with 13 points, 15 rebounds and 12 assists. Her sixth came just five days later on June 25, in a 14-point, 11-rebound and 12-assist performance. Then, just two days after that, Thomas recorded her third triple-double in eight days, with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Her eighth came on July 30, 2023, with Thomas putting up 17 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. And her ninth came on Aug. 1, with 21 points, 20 rebounds and 12 assists.

Thomas kept it rolling, with her 10th coming on Sept. 5, 2023. She recorded 27 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds, as well as 6 steals. She’s the first player in WNBA history with 25 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and 5 steals in a game.

“I’m doing something that’s never been done in the league before,” Thomas said following that performance. “And I’m making it look easy. And by no means are triple-doubles easy. Credit goes to my teammates.”

In the 2023 playoffs, she posted the 11th triple-double of her career in the WNBA semifinals, with 17 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists.

The WNBA is growing in visibility, and no team is more popular than the Connecticut Sun, according to a map created by by Vivid Seats using ticket sales data.

The Sun, led by stars Alyssa Thomas, DeWanna Bonner and Brionna Jones, are the most popular team in Connecticut but also Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Their pull in the region is similar to that of the legendary UConn women’s basketball program.

The Dallas Wings and the Seattle Storm are the next most popular teams, according to the map data. The interactive map features the most popular WNBA team in all 50 states.

For all of the interest around the Sun, the team is in a precarious position: Their season will be on the line Sunday against the New York Liberty, which lead the WNBA semifinal series 2-1.

Thomas scored 23 points and recorded 14 rebounds and nine assists in the team’s 92-81 loss to the Liberty on Friday as New York outscored Connecticut by 21 points in the first quarter.

The Liberty, according to the map data, are the most popular team in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Las Vegas Aces star A’ja Wilson came in third in WNBA MVP voting. For head coach Becky Hammon, that’s a sure sign that the voters “didn’t do their homework.”

On Tuesday, the WNBA announced New York Liberty forward Breanna Stewart as the 2023 MVP, and Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas as the runner-up. Wilson finished in third in one of the closest races in league history. Just 13 points separated Stewart and Wilson in the final tally.

“A’ja was the most dominant player in the league this year, on the most dominant team, on the most dominant offense the league has ever seen with the No. 1 defense,” Hammon said. “I don’t know what else the girl has to do.

“Other than the East Coast media probably needs to wake up and watch our games.”

The fans at Las Vegas’ Michelob Ultra Arena made their thoughts clear, serenading Wilson with “MVP!” chants during Tuesday’s Game 2 of the WNBA semifinals against the Dallas Wings. Wilson led her team with 30 points and 11 rebounds in the 91-84 win, which put the Aces up 2-0 in the series.

The MVP award would have been the cherry on top of her season, Wilson acknowledged after the victory. But she is keeping her focus on the main course: a second consecutive WNBA championship.

“The sundae is still good without the cherry,” she said. “This team still has so much more to do.”

Still, Hammon took some responsibility upon herself for Wilson’s narrow defeat in the MVP vote. Wilson averaged fewer minutes (30.7) than Thomas (36.2) and Stewart (34.1), which could have deflated her per-game statistics.

Wilson averaged 22.8 points on 55.7% shooting from the field, and she also had 9.5 rebounds, all career highs.

“She put together the greatest individual performance this league has ever seen, when you’re talking efficiency, field-goal percentage, rebounding, defense, the whole thing,” Hammon said. “And it’s just a real shame, because we’re talking about the MVP of the league.”

Wilson’s college coach, South Carolina’s Dawn Staley, also called out WNBA awards voters for not giving enough respect to Wilson.

In particular, Staley called out one voter who put Aces guard Chelsea Gray in third place on the ballot over Wilson. Every other ballot included Stewart, Thomas and Wilson in the top three slots.

“To the fourth place voter, your hate is real and on display,” Staley wrote on X.

The announcement of the 2023 WNBA MVP award, won by New York Liberty star Breanna Stewart, elicited a flood of reactions on social media.

Stewart won the award with 446 points, but received fewer first-place votes than runner-up Alyssa Thomas of the Connecticut Sun. Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson finished in third place.

Dawn Staley, who coached Wilson at South Carolina, congratulated Stewart on her victory and Thomas on her historic season. But she had harsh words for one voter, who put Aces guard Chelsea Gray in third place on the ballot over Wilson.

“To the fourth place voter, your hate is real and on display,” Staley wrote on X.

U.S. women’s national team and San Diego Wave star Alex Morgan also complimented Stewart.

Several WNBA players and members of the media called out the voting process. Each voter on a national panel of 60 sportswriters and broadcasters listed their top five candidates, with the No. 1 player on each ballot receiving 10 points. Each subsequent spot on the ballot received fewer points, from seven for a second-place vote down to one for a fifth-place vote.

 

Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud wanted to see members of the voting panel stand behind their choices. Voters can reveal their ballots, but they are not required to do so.

Cloud already had slammed the WNBA awards voting process after being shut out for the All-Defensive Team selections, writing in a since-deleted post: “Voting for this league is a joke.”

Meanwhile, Indiana Fever rookie Aliyah Boston joked about her own MVP prospects. The former South Carolina star appeared on one MVP ballot, receiving a single point for a fifth-place vote, but she remains the frontrunner for the Rookie of the Year award.

“I’m almost there don’t play,” she wrote on X.

Breanna Stewart won the 2023 WNBA MVP award despite receiving fewer first-place votes than Alyssa Thomas.

How did that happen? The New York Liberty star benefitted from the ranked voting process, which allowed Stewart to accumulate more points than Thomas.

Thomas, who posted a WNBA record six triple-doubles during her historic season for the Connecticut Sun, received 23 first-place votes, compared to 20 for Stewart and 17 for A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces. But Stewart finished with 446 points, compared to 439 for Thomas and 433 for Wilson.

Each voter on a national panel of 60 sportswriters and broadcasters listed their top five candidates, with the No. 1 player on each ballot receiving 10 points. For a second-place vote, a player received seven points, while a third-place vote equaled five points, a fourth-place vote three points and a fifth-place vote one point.

Together, Stewart, Thomas and Wilson received all the first-place and second-place votes. The trio received 59 of the third-place votes, and Las Vegas Aces guard Chelsea Gray received one. Wilson also received one fourth-place vote.

In total, Stewart received 20 first-place votes, 23 second-place votes and 17 third-place votes. In contrast, Thomas received 23 first-place votes, 12 second-place votes and 25 third-place votes; her larger number of third-place votes sunk her in the overall tally.

This marks the second time in WNBA history that the MVP runner-up finished with more first-place votes than the winner. The first time was in 2005, when Lauren Jackson received more votes for the top spot but Sheryl Swoopes won the award.

2023 WNBA MVP: Voting results

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Connecticut Sun star Alyssa Thomas lost the 2023 WNBA MVP race, a long-expected outcome in a season defined by the battle of the superteams in New York and Las Vegas.

Yet while MVP winner Breanna Stewart and 2022 MVP A’ja Wilson headlined the clash of titans, Thomas put up numbers never seen before. The 31-year-old forward has posted six triple-doubles so far in 2023. No other WNBA player has had more than two in a single season.

Indeed, Thomas received more first-place votes (23) than Stewart (20) and Wilson (12). But each voter lists their top five candidates, and Stewart received more total points, edging Thomas 446-439. Wilson came in third at 433.

In the 2023 regular season, Thomas averaged 15.5 points, 9.9 rebounds and 7.9 assists per game, all career highs. She has continued that dominance in the postseason, averaging 19.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 9.5 assists through Game 1 of the semifinals.

Teammate DiJonai Carrington summed up Thomas’ performance well after her third triple-double of the season: “I don’t want any of y’all to get used to and normalize what she’s doing out there, for real. Like, that’s not normal.”

Thomas led the league in rebounds in the regular season. She finished in second place on the assists leaderboard, behind only Liberty guard Courtney Vandersloot (8.1), but played more games than Vandersloot, which allowed her to break the single-season assists record (316). She also ranked 20th in points, and she led her team in all three categories.

In contrast, Stewart averaged 23.0 (2nd), 9.3 rebounds (3rd) and 3.8 assists (17th), and Wilson averaged 22.8 points (3rd), 9.5 rebounds (2nd) and 1.6 assists (64th).

While Thomas isn’t one to toot her own horn, her teammate and fiancée DeWanna Bonner is pushing her to recognize her accomplishments, and Thomas did so in an interview with the Washington Post’s Kareem Copeland.

“I think the biggest thing is I’m putting up something that has never been seen before,” Thomas said. “We live in an era now where it’s so much focused on scoring that I think we lose sight of the all-around game and how impressive it is.”

And Bonner has no problem giving Thomas her flowers.

“She puts people in the right position. She finds people on the court and makes it easy for everyone out there,” Bonner told the Associated Press. “I feel like she’s elevating everybody’s game on our team. That’s the definition of an MVP, and I think she’s done it night in and night out.”

New York Liberty star Breanna Stewart won the 2023 WNBA MVP award, beating out Alyssa Thomas of the Connecticut Sun and A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces.

The 2023 season has been defined by the battle of the superteams in New York and Las Vegas, and dominant performances from Stewart and Wilson exemplified the rivalry. Thomas, meanwhile, has been the engine behind the Sun’s run to the semifinals this season, reaching unprecedented heights from the forward position.

Stewart got the edge in MVP voting, claiming the league’s top individual honor for the second time in her career with 446 total points to Thomas’ 439 and Wilson’s 433. Thomas finished with the most first-place votes (23), but Stewart beat her out with 23 second-place votes (worth seven points) to Thomas’ 12. Wilson received 17 first-place votes and 25 second-place votes, as well as as a fourth-place vote. Her Aces teammate Chelsea Gray earned one third-place vote.

Stewart also won the MVP award in 2018 with the Seattle Storm. Wilson was named MVP in 2020 and 2022. This is the second time in WNBA history that the MVP runner-up finished with more first-place votes than the winner; the first was in 2005, when Lauren Jackson received more top votes but Sheryl Swoopes won the award.

A free agency frenzy surrounded Stewart ahead of the 2023 season, and she fed the beast with cryptic emoji-filled tweets. In the end, she chose New York as her destination, joining 2021 MVP Jonquel Jones and Courtney Vandersloot among the Liberty’s prized offseason acquisitions.

Stewart lived up to the sky-high expectations, averaging 23.0 points per game, second in the WNBA only to Storm guard Jewell Loyd (24.7). The 29-year-old forward also ranked third in rebounds (9.3) and 17th in assists (3.8).

Thomas shattered the WNBA triple-double record this year, with six in 2023 alone and 10 total for her career. She averaged 15.5 points (20th), 9.9 rebounds (1st) and 7.9 assists (2nd) per game in 2023, all career highs.

Wilson averaged 22.8 points (3rd), 9.5 rebounds (2nd) and 1.6 assists (64th) for the No. 1 Aces.

“We’re at a special place in women’s basketball when there are so many great players doing so many great things every single night,” Stewart told the Associated Press earlier this month. She also won the Associated Press Player of the Year award, edging Wilson by one vote.

Stewart and the Liberty are facing off against Thomas and the Sun in the WNBA semifinals. Connecticut won the opening game of the series, 78-63, but New York will look to even the score in Game 2, which tips off at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday.

Natasha Cloud is taking exception to WNBA awards voting after being shut out for the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year award and the all-defensive team selections.

A’ja Wilson won the award as the top defensive player for the second year in a row, and Alyssa Thomas, Brittney Sykes and Betnijah Laney all received votes. Sykes and Thomas were named to the all-defensive first team alongside Wilson, as were Jordin Canada and Breanna Stewart.

Laney, Napheesa Collier, Ezi Magbegor, Nneka Ogwumike and Elizabeth Williams were named to the all-defensive second team.

For the Washington Mystics in 2023, Cloud averaged 1.1 steals and 0.3 blocks per game, while also pulling down 3.7 rebounds per game, including a career-high 3.5 defensive rebounds. All of those metrics ranked outside of the top 20 in the league. Her defensive rating (104) also put her outside the top 20.

“Voting for this league is a joke,” Cloud wrote on social media in a now-deleted post, before alluding to awards voting boiling down to politics in another post. She called it “one hell of a thing.”

“Cause y’all really f–ing playing with me,” she finished.

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In a now-deleted tweet, Natasha Cloud called out WNBA awards voting.

While Cloud did make the all-defensive first team in 2022, she called out WNBA awards voting in 2021, when she also was left off the all-defensive teams. In 2022, she averaged 3.1 defensive rebounds, 1.0 steals and 0.3 blocks, and in 2021, she averaged 3.2 defensive rebounds, a career-high 1.4 steals and 0.1 blocks.

Mystics head coach Eric Thibault also weighed in on the 2023 WNBA awards on social media, congratulating Sykes for her “well-deserved” selection to the all-defensive first team but questioning Cloud’s absence, which he called “hard to understand.”

“Removing positions for the All-Defense teams is mostly to blame,” he wrote. “Stats are how people largely vote on/explain these awards, and that means steals, blocks, and rebounds. Two of those three immediately skew towards bigs.

“I don’t think we’re going to see many guards on All-D teams going forward unless they are at the top in steals, like (Sykes) and Canada. … All that to say, there aren’t 10 players better at the craft of playing defense than (Cloud).”