Fever Defeat Shock in Regular-Season Finale
By STEVE HERMAN, AP Sports Writer

Indiana 72, Detroit 66

INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 19 (AP) -- The Indiana Fever are ready for the WNBA playoffs with or without Tamika Catchings.

"Today was a confidence-booster for us,'' said Tamika Whitmore, who had 10 of her 18 points in the fourth quarter in a 72-66 victory Sunday night over the defending champion Detroit Shock. "It gives you that momentum that you need going into a whole other season. Last year, we were on a losing streak at the end, so we're at the other end of the spectrum.''

Indiana lost eight of its first 11 games after Catchings, a perennial All-Star, went out with a foot injury, but finished the regular season with wins over San Antonio, the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, and Detroit, the top seed in the East.

Catchings is listed day-to-day for the playoffs.

"We'll get her on the floor some during practice,'' Indiana coach Brian Winters said. "We'll see how her foot reacts. ... We have three days to focus on playing Connecticut.''

Detroit, finishing with four straight losses, will open the playoffs Friday at New York. Second-seed Indiana will begin Thursday at Connecticut.

The Shock, who tied their season-high with 24 turnovers, led by four points early in the fourth quarter. A 3-point basket by Whitmore and a free throw by Tammy Sutton-Brown helped the Fever regain the lead and started a 9-2 run that put Indiana ahead for good.

The Fever took their biggest lead at 68-61 on a pair of free throws by Whitmore, and Detroit never came closer than four points the rest of the way.

Anna DeForge added 17 points and a season-high five steals, while Sutton-Brown finished with 11 points.

Reserves Plenette Pierson and Shannon Johnson led Detroit with 13 points each.

The Shock, already assured of the best record in the WNBA and the homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs, gave their starters plenty of rest over the final four games of the regular season. Their only question was who their first-round opponent would be, and New York's 58-52 win over Chicago on Sunday gave the Liberty the final playoff spot in a tiebreaker with Washington.

"We didn't put the horses out there necessary to win games,'' Detroit coach Bill Laimbeer said. "We worked very hard all year long to get the home-court advantage.

"Some games we didn't show. But now this is the playoffs. This is when we're ready to go, and that's our focus.''

Indiana never led by more than two points early in the game and fell behind by seven before Detroit's turnovers let the Fever back into the game.

After a 3-pointer by rookie Ivory Latta gave Detroit a 24-17 lead, Sutton-Brown scored a basket and free throw for Indiana. Detroit had turnovers on its next four possessions, and a 3-pointer by DeForge completed a 14-2 Indiana run for a 31-26 lead, its biggest of the first half.

The Shock ran off the next nine points before a late basket by Indiana rookie Alison Bales cut Detroit's lead to 35-33 at halftime. The game was tied at 50 going into the final period.

Detroit's 24 turnovers led to 25 points by Indiana, and the Shock's reserves outscored the starters 47-19.

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