July 18, 2005

Indiana 59, Detroit 58

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Detroit Shock coach Bill Laimbeer has seen the same pattern develop the last two seasons with his struggling team.

``It's the same old routine,'' Laimbeer said after the Shock lost to the Indiana Fever for the second time in three days, 59-58 on Sunday. ``We didn't play hard enough and we didn't want the game bad enough.''

Detroit (7-10) has lost three straight and is 3-10 since starting the season with four straight wins. They are now 24-27 in the past two seasons despite fielding four All-Stars -- the core of the team that won the WNBA championship in 2003.

``We've been talking about this for over a year now,'' Laimbeer said. ``We've had the same issues with the same players and the same combinations. Our starters are getting us down 6-10 points at the beginning of every game and they can't score. We're going to have to make some changes.''

Tamika Catchings scored 21 points for Indiana (11-6), winner of three straight.

``She did many things,'' Fever coach Brian Winters said. ``She led us in scoring, but she also made a lot good plays and only had two turnovers.''

Kelly Miller added 10 points for the Fever, who beat the Shock 62-57 at home Friday night.

``We made a few mistakes down the stretch, but the biggest thing was just trying to keep our composure,'' Catchings said. ``If we make a mistake, we are trying to figure out a way to get the ball back and do whatever we need to do to stay ahead.''

Cheryl Ford had 18 points for Detroit, but the other four starters, including All-Stars Deanna Nolan, Swin Cash and Ruth Riley, combined for just 20.

``This is very frustrating for us all,'' Ford said. ``Everyone on this team has to take a hard look into herself and find a way to change what is happening.''

Indiana broke open a tie game with an 11-2 run to take a 37-28 lead four minutes into the second half. The Fever stretched the lead to 47-37 on Deanna Jackson's free throws with 10:15 remaining, before Detroit started chipping away.

Detroit pulled within 51-49 with 3:50 left, but five missed free throws slowed their rally.

Tully Bevilaqua hit a desperate 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to push the Fever's lead to 56-51 lead with 2:44 left.

The Shock had a chance to pull within one with 1 minute left, but Deanna Nolan missed a fastbreak layup and Ford fouled Catchings on the rebound.

Catchings made one free throw, putting the Fever up 59-55, and Kara Braxton made one at the other end to cut Detroit's deficit to three with 46 seconds left.

Bevilaqua missed a 3-pointer and Ford hit a layup to make it a one-point game with 5 seconds left.

Detroit then fouled Tan White, who missed both free throws, but grabbed her own rebound and dribbled out the clock to secure the Fever's win.

``Hopefully, we can use this to get some momentum,'' Catchings said. ``We want to keep going.''

Laimbeer had All-Star starters Riley and Cash on the bench down the stretch, and hinted that one or both might not remain in the starting lineup.

``Plenette Pierson and Kara Braxton are playing hard, rebounding and attacking the basket,'' he said. ``That's why they are out there right now.''

Indiana led 26-23 at the break after a sloppy first half in which the teams combined for 24 turnovers.

Detroit was missing starting point guard Elaine Powell, who was serving the third of a five-game suspension for elbowing Washington's Coco Miller -- Kelly Miller's twin sister -- in the head.

No comments: