7:30 PM ET, July 24, 2004
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Liberty were a hit in their Radio City Music Hall debut.Elena Baranova had 16 of her 21 points in the second half to lead New York to a 78-69 victory over the Detroit Shock on Saturday night as the Liberty took the stage for the first of six home games at the famed concert hall because of next month's Republican National Convention at Madison Square Garden.The famous Rockettes reclaimed the stage at halftime, performing their famous kick-line for a capacity crowd of 5,945."It was fun, something different," said New York guard Becky Hammon, who earlier this week was selected as a reserve for the WNBA All-Star team that will play the U.S. Olympic squad at Radio City next month.Detroit's Swin Cash ran right off the stage early in the second half in pursuit of a loose ball."I wasn't worried about the stage or falling off," said Cash, who led Detroit with 21 points. "I was just trying to get my team the basketball."The only previous sporting event at Radio City was Jan. 15, 2000, when Roy Jones Jr. beat David Telesco in a 12-round light-heavyweight title fight."It was a great atmosphere," Detroit's Ruth Riley said. "I think the fans had fun. It is a historic day. Unfortunately, we did not get the win."Hammon had 17 points and Vickie Johnson added 16 points and eight rebounds to help New York win its third straight and fifth in last seven.Baranova tied a career high with five 3-pointers and also had seven rebounds."She was terrific," New York interim coach Pat Coyle said. "She made a lot of big shots for us, and she got a lot of key rebounds."Riley, named to the U.S. Olympic team as a replacement for the injured DeLisha Milton-Jones on Thursday, had 18 points and 13 rebounds and Deanna Nolan added 15 points and nine rebounds for the defending WNBA champions.New York moved into a tie with Connecticut atop the Eastern Conference. The Sun beat San Antonio earlier in the day, and Indiana lost to Phoenix and fell into a third-place tie a half-game behind the leaders."Every game is huge," Coyle said. "Just last week we were in fifth place."After the Liberty took their biggest lead of the game at 72-60 with 24.5 seconds remaining, Detroit got as close as five on Cash's 3-pointer with six seconds left. However, Baranova and Johnson both added a pair of free throws in the final five seconds for the final margin."We were playing our third game in four nights and we got tired down the stretch," Shock coach Bill Laimbeer said. "We also had some bad turnovers and didn't shoot well from the free-throw line."Detroit led 35-34 at halftime, before New York took the lead with four straight points from Johnson early in the second half. The Shock scored eight straight to regain the edge four minutes into the period.However, Baranova singlehandedly evened the score with three 3s during the Liberty's 9-4 run that made it 47-47 with 12:45 remaining.New York trailed for the final time 53-51 about midway through the period before a 16-3 run opened an 11-point lead.Both teams struggled with their shots in the first half. Detroit made five of its first 14 (35.7 percent), and New York opened 4-of-14 (28.6 percent). The Liberty finished at 40 percent (26-for-65), and limited the Shock to 33 percent.
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