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Detroit wins third straight, stays in playoff hunt

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Katie Smith hung out with her former
teammates before her first game against them, and planned to do so
again after the final whistle.

In between, though, she was all business.

Smith scored 13 points to lead the Detroit Shock to a 72-66
overtime victory against the Minnesota Lynx on Thursday night.

"It was fun to play against all my friends -- it was like a
practice scrimmage for me," she said. "It would have been a lot
more emotional if the game had been in Minnesota, but this was fun.
I went to their hotel last night and bounced from room to room, and
I'll go hang out with them again tonight."

Smith, the career scoring leader in North American women's
basketball, had played her entire WNBA career with the Lynx until
being traded to Detroit on July 30.

The five-time All-Star also reluctantly gave the Shock some
inside information.

"Every time they called out a play, I knew exactly what was
coming," she said. "The hard part was telling our players what it
meant."

Smith's performance didn't exactly surprise the Lynx.

"Katie is a fantastic player," Minnesota coach Suzie
McConnell-Serio said. "She played a great game."

The Shock (13-14) won their third straight and pulled one game
behind New York and Washington, who are tied for the last two
playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

"This was big, because both teams are fighting for playoff
spots," Shock coach Bill Laimbeer said. "It wasn't easy -- we
always make it hard on ourselves -- but that's what life is like in
this league."

Minnesota (13-15) has lost four in a row on the road.

"We had our chances -- we had a lot of chances,"
McConnell-Serio said. "We just didn't execute."

The teams traded baskets in the extra session until Deanna
Nolan's breakaway layup put the Shock up 68-66 with 1:26 to go.
After a steal by Nolan, Cheryl Ford hit two free throws to increase
Detroit's lead to four points.

Svetlana Abrosimova missed at the other end, and the rebound
went out of bounds off the Lynx, allowing Detroit to put the game
away.

Nolan had 12 points despite not scoring in the first half, and
rookie Kara Braxton added 10 points for Detroit.

Abrosimova led all scorers with 18 points and Detroit native
Stacey Lovelace added 15 for the Lynx.

Minnesota led 34-26 at halftime, after outshooting Detroit 46.2
percent to 35.5 percent from the field in the opening period.

"We're a great first-half team," Lovelace said. "We just
aren't the greatest in late-game situations."

The Lynx led 41-33 early in the second half, but the Shock went
on a 12-2 run and took a 45-43 lead on Braxton's layup with 8:39 to
go. Braxton had six points in the surge.

Minnesota regained the advantage on Abromisova's 3-pointer, and
the teams traded the lead until Smith's three free throws gave
Detroit a 58-56 advantage with 2:17 left in regulation.

Tamika Williams tied the game with a short jumper, but Ford made
one free throw to put Detroit up 59-58.

After a Minnesota miss, Nolan was fouled but missed both shots,
and Williams hit two at the other end to give the Lynx a 60-59
lead.

Detroit missed twice on the ensuing possession, but Ford grabbed
two offensive rebounds and turned the second into a three-point
play with 1:03 to go.

Abrosimova's layup tied the game at 62 with 52 seconds left, and
Nolan lost the ball driving for a layup on the other end.
Abrosimova missed an off-balance 3-pointer at the buzzer.

New Detroit Pistons coach Flip Saunders, who also coached in
Minnesota, attended the game.