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Braxton's break-out game helps Detroit shock Indiana

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Bill Laimbeer took a gamble on Kara
Braxton a year ago.

Tuesday, the Detroit Shock coach got a rare return on the wager.

Braxton, who hadn't reached double figures all season, had 16
points to help the Shock to a 70-66 victory over the Indiana Fever.

"We've seen flashes of what Kara can do in the last two years,
but it has been a struggle," Laimbeer said. "She had a very good
game tonight, but it is only one game. She has to keep it going."

The Shock drafted Braxton seventh overall in 2005, even though
she missed her senior season at Georgia after giving birth to a
child fathered by current Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Odell
Thurman.

Braxton had a 20-point game against Houston, but finished the
season averaging just 6.9 points.

This year, her scoring average was down to 3.4 points, and she
fouled out in just 11 minutes of Sunday's 94-61 loss to Sacramento.

"I had to pick it up, because I got cussed out by my teammates
and coaches after the last game," she said. "It's been
frustrating this year, but I've dealt with it."

The Shock (19-8) have won five of six. The teams split the
season series 2-2, with the home team winning all four games, and
Detroit now leads Indiana by 2 1-2 games for the second seed in the
East.

"This was our biggest game of the year," Laimbeer said. "If
we lose this one, they can put some real pressure on us, but we
didn't lose."

Swin Cash and Katie Smith scored 12 each for the Shock, who got
24 points from the bench.

Tamika Catchings led Indiana (17-11) with 22 points and Tamika
Whitmore added 21. Substitute Tan White had nine points, the only
Fever reserve to score.

"They did the little things and we didn't," Catchings said.
"We'll see them in the playoffs. We'll be ready, and they'll be
ready too."

The teams traded the advantage throughout the first three
quarters, but the Shock rallied late in the third.

Braxton had five points in 25 seconds as Detroit finished the
period with a 7-0 run to take a 59-53 advantage into the fourth
quarter.

Detroit took 17 free throws in the third period, while the Fever
only had one.

"I think the referees gave them the game in the third
quarter," Whitmore said. "That was ridiculous."

Indiana narrowed the gap to 59-57 early in the period, but
Deanna Nolan answered with a 3-pointer.

The Shock offense continued to sputter, though, and Catchings'
3-pointer put the Fever up 64-63 with 3:48 left.

Ruth Riley's jumper put Detroit back in front, and the Fever
missed two chances to go back ahead before Whitmore fouled Cash
with 1:13 left.

Cash split the free throws, and even though Detroit kept control
of the ball with a pair of offensive rebounds, Riley turned over
the ball with 33 seconds to go.

Catchings missed a short jumper in traffic, and Smith made it
68-64 with a pair of free throws.

Former Shock guard Anna Deforge's jumper made it a two-point
game, but Smith put the victory away with two more free throws.

"They've won twice here and we've won twice in Indiana,"
Indiana coach Brian Winters said. "These games are knockdown
drag-outs. That's just how it is with these teams."