Detroit 62, Los Angeles 61
Shock Take Sparks to Game 3
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Sept. 14 (Ticker) -- Deanna Nolan and the Detroit Shock found a way to stave off elimination.
Detroit blew a 19-point lead and seemed on the verge of being swept out of the WNBA Finals. Lisa Leslie's basket capped an 11-0 spurt that provided a 61-57 advantage for Los Angeles with 1:28 remaining.
Detroit's Kedra Holland-Corn answered with a 3-pointer, and Los Angeles' Tamecka Dixon misfired on the other end. After a timeout, Nolan drew a foul on Sparks forward DeLisha Milton and made her foul shots to give the Shock the lead.
After a timeout by Sparks coach Michael Cooper, Los Angeles went to Leslie. The 6-5 center was swarmed by the Shock defense and kicked it out to Milton, who tried to get off a shot but lost the ball instead as time expired.
"I don't really know (what happened)," Leslie said. "It's all a blur. We lost."
"We were definitely going to trap Lisa Leslie, there's no question about that," Shock coach Bill Laimbeer said. "She was not going to beat us."
Game 3 is Tuesday night at The Palace of Auburn Hills. The WNBA Finals have gone to the decisive third game for the first time since 1999. The Sparks have been forced to a decisive game in all three postseason series this year.
Los Angeles was left lamenting the final play of the game.
"There was some contact there, but it was a no-call," Milton said. "The ball got loose. But the clock sounded and (referee) Sally Bell was saying, game over."
Holland-Corn came off the bench for 10 of her 16 points in the second half. Nolan scored 14 points and Ruth Riley added 11 as the Shock overcame 32 percent shooting (9-of-28) over the final 20 minutes.
"We knew we definitely had to win this game," Holland-Corn said. "We had a 16-point lead (at halftime). Second half came around, a little hesitant, wasn't as intense in the second half."
Leslie scored 16 of her 18 points in the second half and also grabbed 15 rebounds for Los Angeles. Milton netted 18 points despite 6-of-18 shooting.
The Shock dominated play from the outset, using a 22-5 tear for a 24-9 cushion on a three-pointer by Holland-Corn near the midway point of the first half. A foul shot by Riley with 2:49 left before halftime opened up a 38-19 advantage.
Los Angeles shot just 25 percent (8-of-32) in the first half and Leslie missed her first five shots. But the Sparks found their groove by going to Leslie, who scored nine points in a 15-2 run that cut the deficit to 50-48 with 8:48 to go.
"In the second half, we were able to make some adjustments," Cooper said. "We defended a little better and we were able to force them into some well-contested shots that helped us at the other end."
Holland-Corn's three-pointer made it 57-50 with 6:39 left to play before Leslie again put the team on her back by scoring seven of the next 11 points. Mwadi Mabika's two foul shots with 2:25 remaining gave the Sparks their first lead since the game's second minute, 59-57.
After Leslie scored for a four-point advantage, Holland-Corn drained her fourth and final three-pointer of the game to put momentum back on Detroit's side.
"Obviously, she made some big plays," Laimbeer said. "You saw the veteran leadership."