Experts: Swoopes the right choice

Updated: July 9, 2005, 7:13 PM ET
ESPN.com

Early on, Tamika Catchings stole the show at Saturday's WNBA All-Star Game, scoring a game-high 13 points in the first half.

But after the break, the game belonged to the West, which finished with seven players in double figures to improve to a perfect 6-0 in the annual midseason showcase.

West forward Sheryl Swoopes, who finished with 18 points, including 11 in the first half, was named MVP. Was it the right choice? Should it have gone to Catchings, or someone else? And what did the experts think about Lisa Leslie's dunk in the final minute?

As always, ESPN.com's experts have the answers:

Ann MeyersESPN's Ann Meyers
With seven players in double figures, there were a lot of players that could've been MVP, but Sheryl Swoopes really did play so well.

Still, it's hard to overlook Yolanda Griffith, the only player with a double-double with 14 rebounds and 12 points. And Katie Smith was 4-for-5 from 3-point range in the second half. She hit some huge shots. New York's Becky Hammon played really well at times, too, and Chamique Holdsclaw and Marie Ferdinand were both very fun to watch.

In the beginning of the game, the East's Tamika Catchings looked like she could win the All-Star title, but she sat a lot in the second half and finished with 18 points, scoring only five after the break.

When it comes to awards, I usually think it's right to pick the best player, regardless of how the team's finish. But in a blowout, it's tough to pick against the West.

Lisa Leslie's dunk was great, but Deanna Nolan was pretty impressive, too, just missing two dunk attempts in the final minute. She's only 5 feet 9 and got it to the rim.

Tactically, I was surprised early on that despite all its post talent, the West relied more on its outside shooting. In the first half, the West attempted 12 3-pointers. But ultimately, the West's ability to get to the line helped decide the game. The West hit 26-of-33 foul shots. The East was more accurate, missing only two of its free throws, but went to the line just 16 times.

Doris BurkeESPN's Doris Burke
Swoopes was my choice. It was great to see her healthy again. At one point, she hit a shot and I said, 'That's the old Sheryl.'

But you really couldn't go wrong on the West. As is typical, Yolanda Griffith quietly went about her business, got things done and dominated the glass. And Katie Smith, the best pure shooter in the league, really hit some big shots, too.

Mechelle VoepelESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel
Sheryl Swoopes. She established a tone really early that she was taking this game very seriously. That's not to say the All-Star Game can't be fun; it can be. But she was playing to show that she was worthy of being the leading vote-getter and that she's at the top of her game at age 34.

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