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Veteran F Milton-Jones makes Liberty debut

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Veteran forward DeLisha Milton-Jones made her New York Liberty debut against the Washington Mystics on Friday night.

The 6-foot 1 forward was claimed by the Liberty on Sunday, two days after she was waived by San Antonio. Milton-Jones averaged 9.2 points and 4.9 rebounds in 15 games with the Silver Stars, down from her career numbers of 11.2 points and 5.5 boards.

``She's a long player,'' New York coach Bill Laimbeer said before the game. ``She'll play the 4 and the 3 (power forward and small forward) for us. I expect her to have an impact in tonight's game to some degree. How much she retains, she's very smart. Picked up a lot of stuff in our offense. I expect her to be OK.''

Milton-Jones said Laimbeer encouraged her to be offensive-minded along with her defensive effort.

``He knows I'm going to play defense, he knows I'm going to rebound,'' she said. ``He wants me to put the ball up.''

Milton-Jones entered the game with about 3 1/2 minutes left in the first quarter and received a round of applause from the home fans. She finished with four points on 1-for-6 shooting from the field in just over 16 minutes on the court in the Liberty's 66-57 loss. Fifth-place New York (10-14) dropped 1 1/2 games behind Washington (12-13) for the last playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

After spending the bulk of the previous 14 seasons with the Los Angeles Sparks, Milton-Jones signed with the Silver Stars in the offseason and the team struggled while playing without injured stars Becky Hammon and Sophia Young.

``The situation just took a turn as we weren't winning a lot of games,'' Milton-Jones said. ``We were very young. So they were preparing for their future. It was a situation that was not good for me in a sense and that move needed to be made.

``I think it was good for both sides. It would have put unwanted pressure on (Silver Stars coach and GM Dan Hughes) to try to find time for me when he is trying to groom his younger players for next year and give them the experience they deserve to have.

``We came to an amicable decision and here we are.''

Milton-Jones hadn't played since suffering a bone bruise in San Antonio's loss against Minnesota on July 19, but didn't have any lingering injury concerns.

``No, I'm good,'' she said. ``I was out 2 1/2, almost three weeks, and I've been practicing with the (Liberty this week). Things have been going well and I'm feeling good.''


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