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Nolan helps Shock squash Fever in series opener

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Never mind that Shock coach Bill Laimbeer
had guaranteed that Detroit would beat Indiana.

Deanna Nolan knew what had to be done. She scored 18 points and
Katie Smith added 17 to lead Detroit to a 68-56 win and a 1-0 lead
in the best-of-three Eastern Conference series.

"I think it pumps us up and gives us more confidence, makes us
more focused and intense," Nolan said of Laimbeer's prediction.
"But at the same time, we're not really thinking about it. We're
trying to limit the little things, like turnovers, allowing second
shots, and just play hard."

Nolan was 9-for-11 from the field, constantly getting free for
open jumpers at the top of the key. She scored six points during a
key 13-0 run.

Tamika Catchings, who was named the WNBA's top defensive player
earlier in the day, led Indiana with 17 points, six rebounds and
five assists. She hit four straight shots in the fourth quarter,
rallying the Fever to 58-54 with 2:24 remaining.

But Smith hit a 3-pointer off an offensive rebound and Ruth
Riley followed with a layup to counter a basket by Whitmore for a
63-56 lead with 1:11 to play, and the Fever got no closer.

Indiana led, 44-43, late in the third quarter when Plenette
Pierson hit a jumper with 21.4 seconds left in the period that
started the 13-0 run that gave Detroit the lead for good.

After limiting Catchings to seven points over more than three
quarters, the Shock then had to withstand her furious, one-player
effort in the waning minutes.

Catchings grabbed rebounds at both ends of the court and hit
four straight shots, including two 3-pointers, to cut the deficit
to 58-54 with 2:24 remaining. But Smith hit a 3-pointer off an
offensive rebound and Riley followed with a layup to counter a
basket by Whitmore for a 63-56 lead with 1:11 to play, and the
Fever got no closer.

"That's one of the things my team expects me to do -- step up,"
Catchings said. "But I'm disappointed that I kind of went away a
little in the second and third quarters. They dropped into a zone,
and we settled for outside shots."

Laimbeer said the Shock's plan was to stay in front of
Catchings.

"We always had help, help, help, from every other position on
the court when she started her drives," Laimbeer said. "She will
get her touches."

Tamika Whitmore scored 12 points and Ebony Hoffman added 10 for
Indiana, which had won five straight home games against Detroit,
including both meetings in the regular season.

La'Tangela Atkinson grabbed 11 rebounds for the Fever.

Cheryl Ford added 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Shock, who
return home Saturday for Game 2.

Fever coach Brian Winters said Smith's hot shooting was tough to
overcome.

"They had an offensive rebound, and Kate Smith drilled a 3,"
Winters said. "She misses that, and we get a rebound and make a
shot -- but she makes it, and proves why she's a great player."

Detroit hit 40.6 percent from the field and had 42 rebounds to
31 for the Fever, who shot 32.8 percent.

"We got outrebounded tonight, and they won," Winters said.
"You can't shoot 33 percent and win."