Fever-Liberty Preview

The New York Liberty have thrived at Madison Square Garden this season, but their struggles on the road have kept them at .500.

They'll try to climb above that mark Thursday as they welcome the Indiana Fever to Manhattan before embarking on a difficult five-game Western Conference road trip.

New York (6-6) has won five of its last six home games, including a 105-72 drubbing of defending champion Phoenix on Sunday in which the Liberty set a new franchise single-game scoring record.

They're just 1-4 on the road, however, losing 91-69 at Minnesota Tuesday. After facing Indiana (7-6), the Liberty travel to Sacramento for the first of five straight games against West opponents.

While they shot 54.3 percent and made 11 3-pointers against Phoenix, the Liberty shot just 37.3 percent against the Lynx, slightly better than their 36.9 percent mark from the field in an 83-69 loss at Indiana on June 18. That was New York's eighth loss in its last nine meetings with the Fever.

"Indiana came out and really set the tone early," New York coach Pat Coyle said after that game. "Through the first half and going into the third quarter, they had intensity at both ends that we didn't match."

The Fever have also had trouble generating that same energy on the road, dropping three of their last four away from Conseco Fieldhouse - with the only win over that span coming against winless Atlanta.

Indiana struggled early at home against Sacramento Tuesday, trailing by 18 in the second quarter before bouncing back for a 78-73 win. Ebony Hoffman had career highs with 23 points and 13 rebounds for the Fever, who held the Monarchs to just seven fields goals and 24 points in the second half.

"It took a great defensive effort to overcome the deficit," Indiana coach Lin Dunn said. "This is the best Fever defense I've seen this season."

The Fever also had to overcome a sluggish performance by Tamika Catchings, who had six points on 2-of-8 shooting in 23 minutes. Catchings had 11 points in just 14 minutes against the Liberty last week, but has been erratic in five games since her return from an Achilles' injury.

Catchings, who has averaged 16.9 points in her seven-year career, has shot just 35.0 percent and averaged only 8.4 points in limited minutes as she works her way back from the injury. The Fever are 2-3 with her in the lineup.

The next time the Fever and Liberty face off, the game will take place at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens on July 19 - the first outdoor regular-season game in WNBA history.

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