Fever Unable To Shoot Themselves To Title
By Brian Martin, WNBA.com

Katie Douglas shot just 2-of-14 from the field and 1-of-7 from three-point range in Game 4.
Ron Hoskins/NBAE/Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, October 7, 2009 -- With 5:25 to play in the fourth quarter and the Fever trailing by 11, Katie Douglas got the ball at the top of the key, drove to the basket past a pair of Phoenix defenders and as she went to put up a lefty layup she was met by Diana Taurasi, who blocked the shot and sent Douglas to the floor.

As Taurasi came down from the block, she was able to grab the loose ball while falling backward out of bounds and had the presence of mind to throw the ball off of Douglas’ leg and out of play in order to save the possession for Phoenix.

The result was the Mercury back on offense and Douglas laid out on her back with an exasperated look on her face.

That play essentially summed up Douglas’ night of frustration on Wednesday in Game 4 of the 2009 WNBA Finals. She finished the night with just seven points on 2-of-14 shooting from the field and 1-of-7 from three-point range.

“Obviously I feel like I let my team down tonight,” said Douglas after the game. “I wasn’t able to knock down shots that I’ve been knocking down all season.”

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of Douglas’ poor shooting performance is the fact that she got open looks. It’s one thing if the opposing team plays great defense and forces the missed shots. It’s another when the shot is open and just won’t go down.

“I can’t remember the last time I had a game like this,” said Douglas. “I try to have amnesia with those things. I don’t remember games that I have everything going, and I don’t remember games that I have nothing going, like tonight.

“But obviously I’m more sick to my stomach than I’ve ever been. I feel like I let everybody down. This was a golden opportunity and I just laid an egg. That’s the best way I can put it.”

You have to go back to Game 3 of the 2004 WNBA Finals to find a similar outing for Douglas. As a member of the Connecticut Sun, Douglas scored just six points on 0-for-11 shooting in the winner-take-all Game 3 against Seattle that the Storm won 74-60 to win their only WNBA title.

The good news for Douglas and the Fever is that Wednesday’s game was not the final game of the series as it was for Douglas and the Sun back in ’04; the final game of this series comes Friday in Phoenix and gives Douglas a chance to redeem herself.

“Hopefully I can put it behind me pretty quick,” she said. “Just being a shooter I just need to shake it off and regroup. I know my teammates have my back and that’s all I really need. I have confidence in myself and they have confidence in me so I’m not going to overanalyze too much at this stage of the season. It’s about just taking what they give me and just making the shots next time.”

Douglas was not the only Fever player to have an off night. Rookie guard Briann January, who has been brilliant throughout the Finals and especially in Game 3 when scored a career-high 17 points, finished Game 4 with just eight points on 1-of-9 shooting from the field and 0-of-4 from three point range.

As a team the Fever shot just 2-of-18 (11.1 percent) from beyond the arc, and 29-of-71 (40.8 percent) overall, by far their worst percentage of the Finals. Perhaps more alarming than the low shooting percentage was the Fever’s unwillingness to take shots in the second half as players continually passed up open looks.

“I thought Katie and Bri got a little hesitant,” said Fever coach Lin Dunn. “You miss four or five in a row and you tend to kind of be a little gun shy, thinking ‘okay I’ll make an extra pass’ and we can’t do that. When Katie is open she has to take those shots and we count on her to knock down shots; whether she misses five or six in a row she has to take the next open shot.”

The mentality of a shooter has to be that they are going to take and make their next shot no matter how many they may have missed leading up to that shot. Without that supreme confidence, a shooter will begin to second-guess themselves, which compounds the problem.

“Katie might have let the missed shots bother her,” said Dunn. “Instead of thinking of the next shot you’re going to hit, maybe she was thinking of the last shot she missed and that’s not like her.”

Wednesday’s Game 4 was the first game of the series where the Fever were held to less than 80 points. The Fever’s offense abandoned them in a game that saw them win rebound battle as well as outscore the Mercury in the paint and on second chance points.

“With a team like this you have to match the fact that they are going to score,” said Dunn. “We can defend forever and keep them under their average, but we have to put the ball in the hole.”

As the series shifts back to Phoenix, the Fever can take solace in the fact that their two highest scoring outputs and shooting percentages of the Finals came in Phoenix.

“Everybody needs to relax, it's tied; they’re not up one, we’re not down one, we’re tied,” said Dunn. “We’ve already proven that we can play out there and we can win out there. We need to get some rest because we have a long flight out there. We have to get refocused and hit a few more shots.”

Douglas had 30 points in Game 1 and 14 points in Game 2 in Phoenix and her coach and teammates expect to see her rebound from this performance on Friday night.

“The great thing about January and Douglas is they are mentally tough, they’ll bounce back,” said Dunn. “Katie could go out and have 30. There’s not any doubt in my mind that Katie Douglas is the type of player that can turn right around and knock down 10 in a row so I’m not worried about that.

“I’m confident that Katie Douglas will come back out and kick some butt.”