Adrian Test 04/30. SACRAMENTO, Calif.(AP) Perfection was never the Sacramento Monarchs' goal, yet the defending WNBA champions were perhaps one quarter away from a flawless run through the playoffs.

Sacramento won its first five postseason games and took a lead into the fourth quarter of Game 2 of the WNBA finals at Detroit on Friday night. That's when everything fell apart: The Monarchs' vaunted defensive pressure waned, and the shots that had fallen for 5{ straight games suddenly missed.

The Shock avoided an 0-2 deficit with a rally for a 73-63 victory, and the clubs headed across the country for Game 3 on Sunday in a best-of-five series that seemed far from even in its first seven quarters.

"They had to win (Game 2),'' Sacramento coach John Whisenant said. "I think they knew that. They felt going back to our place down 0-2 would have been a very deep hole, but now they are back right where they want to be, right in the thick of things.''

Perhaps a full week of hotel living and high-stakes postseason games finally got to the deep, playoff-tested Monarchs. They hadn't been home in California's capital since traveling to Anaheim for their clinching victory over the Los Angeles Sparks in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals seven days earlier.

But until the fourth quarter of Game 2 in Auburn Hills, Whisenant's squad seemed to be cruising to its second straight title with a poise and precision that caught the rest of the league by surprise. The Monarchs, who struggled through parts of the regular season, have played easily their best basketball of the year during their playoff run.

"We just hit a wall there physically,'' Whisenant said. "I started seeing my players didn't have any zip.''

The collapse actually started in the third quarter. Sacramento missed 20 of its first 24 shots in the second half, scoring just nine points in the fourth while Detroit rode a wave of emotion to the win.

Katie Smith and Deanna Nolan led the comeback, with Smith scoring 16 points in the second half. The Shock won the Eastern Conference title on the strength of their talented starting five, and those players finally came through when Detroit teetered on the brink of a two-game deficit.

Nolan called it "just desperation.''

"They got up double digits on us,'' coach Bill Laimbeer said. "We could have folded. We could have put our heads down, but we showed great composure.''

Now the Shock must win at least one game at Arco Arena, where the Monarchs are unbeaten in 10 straight playoff games since 2001. Detroit has been pounded in its two previous trips to Sacramento - a 94-61 loss this season and a 40-point beating in 2005.

The Monarchs' loud fans will pack Sunday's contest and Game 4 on Wednesday night, hoping to witness a championship celebration for the second straight year. After playing in front of the half-empty Palace in the first two games, even the Shock might get an energy boost from a rowdy crowd.

"We know what kind of defense they are going to be in,'' Nolan said. "They are going to be pressure, pressure, pressure. Hopefully we are used to that by now. Basically (we'll) just try not to turn it over on their home court, because that's what they thrive off of and score off of.''