4:00 PM ET, August 26, 2006
Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT
UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) -- The Connecticut Sun got their offensive rhythm back and an emotional lift from Katie Douglas.
|Detroit's Deanna Nolan finished with a game-high 27 points in a losing effort. (Jessica Hill /AP Photo)|
The All-Star game MVP returned to the starting lineup despite a hairline fracture in her right foot to spark the Sun to a 77-68 win over the Detroit Shock on Saturday, extending the Eastern Conference finals to a deciding third game."First and foremost, I didn't want to be a distraction to them," Douglas said. "Each and every one of them has supported me and I just didn't want to distract them, but I wanted to give them something if I could."Although not 100 percent, she provided a lift during one of the big swings of the game, hitting a 3-pointer and a 14-foot jump shot during a 17-5 run in the third quarter to give the Sun a 56-43 lead. When she hit the 3 with 7:46 to play in the third quarter, Douglas pumped her fists and screamed and her teammates on the floor patted her on the back. It brought a thunderous ovation from the more than 7,000 fans at the Mohegan Sun Arena."It felt really good. I knew that was my first shot. I definitely wasn't going to try to force anything tonight," Douglas said. "I definitely knew that I screamed and shouted because it was a definite burden and relief off of my back."Douglas was injured in last week's conference playoff clinching game against the Washington Mystics. That set up the conference finals with Detroit, who had beaten Connecticut in all four previous meetings this year. Without Douglas on Friday, the Shock beat the Sun 70-59 at The Palace at Auburn Hills."It was do-or-die, and I thought we played, for the most part, a pretty terrific game, especially on the defensive end," Sun coach Mike Thibault said. "Now you have two really good teams playing for a chance to go to the finals."The deciding game is Sunday night in Uncasville.The Shock rallied in the second half with a 13-5 run to cut the deficit to 60-55 at the end of the third quarter. They pulled within three points in the fourth quarter and trailed 70-67 with 53 seconds left, but the Sun closed out the game with a 7-1 run on a layup by Taj McWilliams-Franklin and free throws from Lindsay Whalen and Nykesha Sales."No doubt it's disappointing that we couldn't close the series out," Detroit coach Bill Laimbeer said. "We talked about how it was the hardest game we were going to play and we didn't get the job done. I don't think we played nearly as hard as we had to. Our focus wasn't there."McWilliams-Franklin led Connecticut with 18 points despite playing the fourth quarter in foul trouble. Margo Dydek scored nine of her 17 points in the third quarter. Asjha Jones added eight points and eight rebounds.After missing 103 shots in their last two playoff games, the Sun finally found their rhythm offensively, going 25-of-59 from the floor. Sales, who was 2-for-23 in the playoffs before Saturday, was 4-for-10 for 15 points. It was the first time she scored in double figures in four playoff games."I'm just proud of how we bounced back," Thibault said. "We finally made some shots, relaxed a little bit, and we got a lot of contributions from a lot of people tonight."Deanna Nolan had 27 points on 12-of-17 shooting to pace the Shock. Cheryl Ford added 15 points, but a game after grabbing a WNBA playoff-record 23 rebounds, had only eight boards. After scoring 17 points in Game 1 in Detroit, Katie Smith was held to two points on 1-of-9 shooting."We stayed a little closer to her," Thibault said. "I thought we lost sight of her [in Game 1] a couple of times trying to help defend other players. We did a better job tonight, but I'm sure they will make some adjustments on Sunday and we'll try to anticipate what they are."
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||27-67 (.000)||25-59 (.000)|
|3P Made-Attempted||1-8 (.125)||5-9 (.556)|
|FT Made-Attempted||13-18 (.000)||22-29 (.000)|
|Fast Break Points||2||5|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||24 (0/0)||18 (0/0)|