Wings vs Suns score, takeaways: Dallas pulls off upset win in 2022 WNBA playoffs to set up decisive Game 3

Another day, another surprising result in the 2022 WNBA Playoffs. On Sunday, the sixth-seeded Dallas Wings upset the third-seeded Connecticut Sun in Game 2, winning 89-79 to even the series at 1-1 and force the winner to take it all again in Dallas on Wednesday. It was the Wings’ first playoff win since 2009, when the franchise was still the Detroit Shock.

The Wings went on a 7-0 run and led by 15 at the end of the first quarter. By the start of the fourth quarter, they had extended their lead to 31 points and that seemed to be the end of the drama. The Sun then went on a furious 22-2 run midway through the fourth to put a little fear into the Wings. It was a classic case of too little, too late, though, as the Wings held on for the season-saving win.

It was a complete team effort by the Wings as they dominated in every aspect and also played with more energy and intensity at both ends of the court. Kayla Thornton (20 points, five rebounds and four assists), Allisha Gray (15 points, five rebounds, eight assists and three steals) and Teaira McCowan (17 points and 11 rebounds) all had excellent performances.

Reigning MVP Jonkel Jones led the Suns with 20 points and 9 rebounds on 6-of-12 shooting from the field, while Brionna Jones and Dijonai Carrington combined for 33 points off the bench. A late surge in the fourth quarter will make the numbers and final deficit look respectable, but it was one of the worst performances of the season for the Suns.

Here are some key takeaways from the game:

Wings end playoff drought

When you consider their entire history, the Wings are one of the oldest and most successful franchises in the WNBA. However, all of their accomplishments came in the 12 seasons they were the Detroit Shock. From 2003-09, they went to the playoffs every year, winning three titles and losing in the finals one other time.

After 2009, however, things began to fall apart. The team was moved to Oklahoma and became the Tulsa Shock. They won just 18 games in their first three seasons in Tulsa and made the playoffs just once in Tulsa’s tenure, where they were swept by the Phoenix Mercury in 2015.

This unforgettable era ended the following year when the team moved again. This time in Texas, where they did a complete rebrand and became the Dallas Wings. While slightly more competitive than the Tulsa replay, it hasn’t had much success in Dallas until recently. They lost in the then-single-elimination first round in 2017, 2018 and 2021, and although they made the playoffs in those seasons, they were under .500 each time.

Despite finishing .500 this season and earning the No. 6 seed, their 25-point loss in Game 1 seemed to indicate it would be the same old playoff story. Instead, they came out on fire Sunday and snapped their 13-year playoff drought. It was their first playoff win since 2009 and the first time they won an elimination game since 2008.

Thornton delivers a near career night

Kayla Thornton is one of the most underrated players in the league, but her value comes mostly from her defense and versatility, not her scoring. In Game 2, however, Thornton put together one of the best offensive games of his career to help the Wings earn a season-clinching victory.

In a three-minute span in the first quarter, Thornton hit three straight 3-pointers to give the Wings an early double-digit lead. Neither she nor the Wings ever looked back. Thornton finished with 20 points, five rebounds and four assists on 8-12 shooting from the field. It was a new playoff career high for Thornton and just one point shy of her career high of 21 points. Her four 3s were also tied for a career high.

There was a brief injury scare in the second half when Thornton was hit in the face and had to be checked by the Wings’ medical staff on the bench. Fortunately, she was able to get back into the game and should be fine for Game 3, when the Wings will be hoping for another big night from her. If they get one, they will have a much better chance of winning.

In the regular season, they were 9-3 when Thornton reached double figures and 9-15 when she didn’t. However, she only scored in double figures in consecutive games on three occasions.

Can the Wings capitalize on form?

Before the season, the league debuted a new playoff format that was generally applauded as it eliminated byes and single-elimination rounds in favor of a standard bracket. However, the new agreement is not perfect.

In particular, there have been various complaints about the best-of-three first-round setup, which is 2-1, meaning the higher-seeded team hosts Games 1 and 2 while the lower-seeded team host Game 3 if necessary. By winning Game 2 and tying the series at 1-1, the Wings would be able to return home for a winner-take-all Game 3, despite winning seven fewer regular-season games than the Suns.

Of course, the Wings need to win to take advantage of the form. While home court obviously matters in the postseason, it’s worth noting that in the regular season, the Wings were 8-10 at home and were one of only two playoff teams with a record under .500 at home. The Suns, on the other hand, went 12-6 on the road this season, which was tied for second only to the Las Vegas Aces for the league’s best road record.

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