Mystics deny Shock chance to lock up East's No. 2 seed

WASHINGTON (AP) -- DeLisha Milton-Jones scored 12 of her 23
points in the third quarter and the Washington Mystics rallied from
a 16-point deficit for a 78-66 victory over the Detroit Shock on
Friday night.

Alana Beard had 21 points and eight rebounds for the Mystics
(18-15), who set a team record for wins in a season. Nakia Sanford
added 11 points and 12 rebounds for Washington, which denied
Detroit a chance to secure the No. 2 seed in WNBA's Eastern
Conference playoffs.

"Our intensity level is increasing," Beard said. "Our heart
and determination is there. The past few games that we played are
sort of like the playoff atmosphere that it's going to be like and
this team is stepping up to the challenge."

Fourth-seeded Washington will play host to top-seeded
Connecticut in their playoff opener Aug. 18 at Verizon Center.

The Mystics won 17 games in 2002 (17-15) and 2004 (17-17).

"In the third quarter they came out of the zone and went man
and we got the ball down inside," Mystics coach Richie Adubato
said. "Then we freed up DeLisha Milton-Jones about five times and
she hit four shots. That's when we jumped up and got the lead."

During that stretch, Milton-Jones made a 3-pointer and a jumper
from the corner, a 3-pointer from the wing and converted a
three-point play that gave Washington a 52-46 lead with 3:33
remaining in the third.

Cheryl Ford scored six straight points that pulled Detroit to
59-57 with 6:58 remaining but that was as close as the Shock got in
the fourth.

"They wanted this game more than us," Shock coach Bill
Laimbeer said. "In the third quarter they made shots and we
didn't. For two quarters our offense went in the tank for
shot-making. That was the difference in the ballgame."

Milton-Jones' 3-pointer from the top of the key gave Washington
a 68-61 lead with 2:22 remaining. Beard's steal and layup gave the
Mystics a 72-63 lead with 1:20 left.

Katie Smith and Deanna Nolan both scored 12 points for the Shock
(22-11). Ford added 11 points and 12 rebounds.

"They picked up the intensity and started hitting some shots,"
Smith said. "They figured out the zone and got some offensive
rebounds. They just picked it up a notch and we didn't match it."

Plenette Pierson's three-point play gave Detroit a 31-15 lead
with 8:13 left in the second quarter. The Mystics countered with an
11-2 run capped by Milton-Jones' jumper that pulled Washington to
33-26 with 4:48 remaining in the half.

The Shock led 37-33 at halftime.

Detroit took a 19-9 lead on Smith's 3-pointer with 2:17
remaining in the first quarter.