7:30 PM ET, May 21, 2008
The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Bill Laimbeer has never hidden his irritation with Kara Braxton.On Wednesday night, he got a rare chance to enjoy her game.After two lethargic efforts to start the season, Laimbeer demoted Braxton to the bench and she responded with a career-high 22 points in Detroit's 76-71 win over Indiana."She's been frustrating for 3 1/2 years now, but now maybe we've found her niche," Laimbeer said. "Maybe it will work having her as an energy player off the bench."Laimbeer said that rookie Yinka Sanni will stay in the starting lineup for the immediate future, comparing the decision to the way Chuck Daly set up the "Bad Boys" rotation with the Pistons."We always had a very cerebral lineup, and we've tried to do that here, but Kara wasn't fitting into that," he said. "She's more like Dennis Rodman, John Salley or Vinnie Johnson -- the athletic players that we had coming off the bench."Braxton reacted to the decision in her usual low-key style."It doesn't make any difference to me," she said. "I know Bill's going to try to do whatever is best for the team."Braxton and fellow reserve Plenette Pierson combined for 42 points, 32 more than the Indiana bench and eight more than the Shock starters."Kara is a big girl, and when she plays like that, it makes us a complete team," Pierson said. "It's good to see."Katie Douglas had 26 points to lead Indiana (1-1), which is still waiting for Tamika Catchings to return from last year's Achilles injury."I want to go out and be a leader for this team," Douglas said. "We aren't at full force right now -- everyone knows that -- but we need to step up."Tan White scored 17 points and Tammy Sutton-Brown added 12, but the Fever couldn't overcome 27 turnovers."We had 19 turnovers in the first half, but then we settled down," Indiana coach Linn Dunn said. "It was unfortunate that we didn't get off to a better start, but I give our kids credit. We fought and we even got ahead."Braxton came off the bench to score eight points in the first period, and Indiana turned the ball over 10 times in the quarter.The Shock led 22-10 at the end of the period, and still had a seven-point edge at halftime, but Indiana ralled in the third, holding Detroit to 13 points.The Fever led 58-56 going into the fourth, and were ahead until Cheryl Ford's layup put the Shock up 66-65 with 3:25 to play.Ebony Hoffman's putback put Indiana back ahead, but baskets by Deanna Nolan and Pierson gave the Shock a 70-67 lead with 1:45 left, and Detroit held on.Nolan has been playing on an ankle injury sustained earlier this month in Russia, and has averaged just 8.3 points in Detroit's first three games."She's showing a lot of heart, because her athleticism is really hobbled, plus Ford is having problems with her knee," Laimbeer said. "We start with five games in nine days, and then we play one in 10, and we really need the rest."Although the official attendance was 6,842, there were about only 1,500 fans in attendance for game in which the teams combined for 48 turnovers.
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