AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Bill Laimbeer has never been shy
about saying his Detroit Shock is the most talented squad in the
For the first time in three years, his team may be ready to back
The Shock got their first playoff series victory since winning
the the 2003 finals, eliminating the Indiana Fever with a 98-83
victory Saturday night in Game 2 of their first-round series.
"I believe that we have the best team in the land," Laimbeer
said. "All we have to do now is prove it. Tonight was a big
Detroit won despite a record-setting performance by Indiana's
Tamika Whitmore. Whitmore had 41 points -- including 25 in the
second half -- to break Lisa Leslie's WNBA postseason record of 35.
"Without Whit, we wouldn't have even been competitive
tonight," Indiana coach Brian Winters said. "She scored from
every spot on the floor."
Whitmore was 15-of-25 from the floor and 10-for-10 from the line
before fouling out with 30 seconds left, but didn't get much
enjoyment out of the record.
"If I ever have children or grandchildren, maybe I'll tell them
about it," said Whitmore, who signed with the Fever as a free
agent in March. "But I have a lot left to do -- I came to Indiana
to win a WNBA title."
Detroit, which fell five points short of Los Angeles' league
record for points in a playoff game, had six players in double
figures. Swin Cash, who only scored two points in Game 1, had 17
points, nine rebounds and eight assists Saturday.
"I knew I had to be aggressive tonight, because that's when I'm
at my best," Cash said. "Not just shooting, but finding shots for
my teammates. That's how you have to play in the playoffs."
Indiana lost All-Star Tamika Catchings for much of the second
half after she hit her head on the floor while battling Plenette
Pierson for a loose ball.
Catchings returned midway through the final period, but turned
the ball over the first time she touched it, and finished with just
11 points on 4-of-15 shooting.
"I would have never jeopardized Tamika's health if she wasn't
able to play, but I don't think she was 100 percent when she went
back in, either," Winters said.
The Fever led 64-63 going into the fourth quarter, but with
Catchings on the bench and center Ebony Hoffman in foul trouble,
Whitmore was left alone against the Shock's deep front line.
In the final period, Detroit forwards Cash, Pierson and Cheryl
Ford combined for 26 points and 11 rebounds, while Indiana only had
19 points and seven boards as a team.
"When Catch went down, you could see that Detroit was going to
try to ram the game down our throats," Whitmore said. "In a
situation like that, both teams are going to try to win by any
Like Whitmore, Hoffman eventually fouled out. The Shock
attempted 40 free throws in the game to Indiana's 21.
"Forty to 21 is about all you can say," Winters said. "Every
time Ebony went near Ford, it was a foul. She played 22 minutes. If
she's allowed to play 30 or 35, it's a different game."
Ford led Detroit with 23 points and 10 rebounds, while Pierson
scored 20 off the bench. The pair combined for 16 points in a 21-8
run to start the final period.
"We were very aggressive in the fourth quarter, and it paid
off," Laimbeer said. "We attacked at all times, because we wanted
to put this series away.
There were six technical fouls in the game, including a pair of
double technicals for shoving incidents, and Pierson stayed on the
floor for several moments after being hit by a Whitmore elbow with
4:30 left in the game.
"It was a very physical game," Winters said. "We played hard
and did a lot of good things, but Detroit is a powerful team. They
are a force to be reckoned with."
The Shock will face either Connecticut or Washington in the
Eastern Conference finals, starting Thursday. The Sun lead the
series 1-0 after a 76-61 road win on Friday.
"Everyone expected a Detroit-Connecticut final in the East,"
Laimbeer said. "We're there. We'll see what happens in the other