Detroit 83, New York 69 (F)
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- The last month has done wonders for the Detroit Shock.
The Shock went into the long Olympic break having lost four straight games and reeling from Cheryl Ford's knee injury and the suspensions from the July 22 brawl with Los Angeles.
Ford and Plenette Pierson were still gone Friday night, but new acquisition Taj McWilliams-Franklin was in a Detroit uniform for the first time and her 15 points helped the Shock beat the New York Liberty 83-69.
The win clinched Detroit's sixth straight playoff appearance.
"This was a big game for us, because we have to show the league that we aren't going to let the injuries and the suspensions stop us,'' said Deanna Nolan, who led Detroit with 26 points. "It's been a long month waiting to get going again.''
During the break, the Shock traded two young players and a draft pick for the veteran McWilliams-Franklin in an attempt to provide a post game. Ford will miss the rest of the season with the torn ACL she sustained during the fight, while Pierson was serving the third game of her four-game suspension.
"Taj is a veteran who does the things she does very well,'' Detroit coach Bill Laimbeer said. "She's going to be important for us.''
McWilliams-Franklin spent several years batting the Shock while playing for Connecticut, and acknowledged that it was an odd sensation being on a new team.
"I've had a lot of tough games against this team - I've been playing against Katie Smith since the ABL - so it was strange to be here,'' she said. "But I think this is a great opportunity for me.''
Smith, who won a gold medal with the United States in Beijing, scored 14 points, giving her 4,999 points in her WNBA career.
New York has lost two straight since going into the break on a three-game winning streak.
"We executed well, but Detroit is a great team,'' said Janel McCarville, who led the Liberty with 21 points. "We tried to make things hard for them, but they were able to go to their key players when they needed a basket.''
Shameka Christon added 16 points for New York.
New York led 38-35 at halftime behind 13 points from McCarville, but Detroit pulled away with a dominant third quarter. The Shock outscored the Liberty 31-14 in the third, hitting 12 of their 14 field goal attempts.
"We were in that game and one quarter killed us,'' New York coach Pat Coyle said. "We've lost 12 games this year, and I'd venture that 11 of them are because of the third quarter. It's something that we have to address.''
The Liberty hit three straight 3-pointers to pull within 68-61 with 7:42 to play, but couldn't sustain the rally.