Minnesota defeats Detroit 84-70

Shock Drop First Road Game

It didn’t take long for the Detroit Shock to hit a bump in the road, losing at Minnesota Sunday, 84-70.

Forwards Katie Smith and Plenette Pierson both carried over strong performances from Saturday’s opening day win against Houston. The Shock were again led by Smith, who had 17 points and five assists. Pierson contributed 15 points off the bench and Cheryl Ford added 11 points and nine rebounds.

Deanna Nolan, battling a severely sprained ankle, shot 2-for-8 for four points in 22 minutes.

Trailing 45-40 at halftime, the Shock mounted a 16-10 run to take the lead, but this would be their last lead of the game. Sparked by rookie forward Charde Houston, Minnesota responded with a 17-4 run, lasting through the end of the third quarter and into the fourth.

"I thought our defense was poor,” Smith said. “Obviously giving up 84 points, you're not going to win a lot of games doing that. Offensively we had spurts, we had our moments where we got ourselves back even or close and then had a couple turnovers, bad plays or fouls and then they got their momentum back. They played well, hit shots, shared the ball and had a lot of people doing good things for them."

The Shock - who didn’t lose until their eighth game last season - were done in by 23 turnovers that led to 25 Lynx points. Minnesota’s bench also outscored Detroit’s, 46-26.

"What surprised me was our turnovers,” head coach Bill Laimbeer said. “We didn't take care of the ball like we are supposed to. I thought our energy level wasn't necessarily where it needed to be also. Those were the two disappointments tonight."

It was the first season-opening win for Minnesota since 2003. The Lynx now has the edge in the all-time series against Detroit, 9-7.

"We knew they were going to be energized, we knew they were going to play hard,” Laimbeer said. “They are a young team, it is their home opener, and they have had some bad seasons and they want to try to turn it around. At the same time, we have to match that intensity."

The Lynx, coming off their worst season in franchise history (10-24), were rejuvenated with stellar outings from each of their three rookies. Houston, a third-round pick, was a perfect 5 for 5 from the field in the first half off the bench and finished with a game-high 21 points. Candice Wiggins, the third overall pick, debuted with 15 points, four rebounds and four steals. Minnesota’s third rookie, Nicky Anosike, chipped in 11 points, four rebounds and three steals.

Shock rookie Alexis Hornbuckle, who set a franchise record with seven steals in Saturday’s opener, had no steals Sunday. She had eight points and four rebounds in 19 minutes.

The Shock now have a couple days to prepare for Wednesday’s game, when they’ll host Indiana at The Palace. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. They won’t play back-to-back games again until their West Coast road trip, June 6th and 7th.

"Back-to-backs are part of reality,” Laimbeer said. “You can't blame losses on them. We have enough players that should get the job done and we just didn't take care of the basketball. We didn't play smart today and that bothers me."