Nolan’s 34 Not Enough
Despite 34 points from Deanna Nolan, the Silver Stars snapped Detroit’s four-game winning streak with a 100-88 victory. For the first time since joining the Shock in July 2005, Katie Smith did not play, ending her franchise record for consecutive games played at 142.
The Shock were nonetheless very impressive early, taking a 24-12 lead after the first quarter. They also fought valiantly to force overtime. San Antonio had scored 11 unanswered points to take a 71-63 lead with 5:48 left in the fourth. Detroit rallied, and Nolan made two spectacular jump shots to tie the game at 77 with 1:13 left.
That final surge seemed to wipe out the Shock, who surrendered 21 points in the overtime. And the Silver Stars, who had lost four in a row, showed much more firepower than they did at The Palace six nights ago in a 99-84 defeat. Becky Hammon, who had only four points at halftime, finished with 32 points on 10-of-17 shooting, and fellow All-Star Sophia Young scored a career-high 31 points. Young’s baseline jumper with 2.3 seconds left in regulation forced overtime after Detroit had taken a 79-77 lead on Taj McWilliams’ put-back basket. McWilliams had 10 points and six rebounds.
Head coach Rick Mahorn said during ESPN2’s national broadcast that Smith was “banged up” and the decision for her not to play was a “precautionary measure.” Nolan carried as much of the offense as she could without Smith, who accounts for over half of Detroit’s 3-pointers on the season (57 of 111). She shot 30 times, making 12, and connected on five 3-pointers. Detroit’s other shooting guards, Alexis Hornbuckle and Shavonte Zellous, had two field goals apiece, shooting a combined 4-of-13.
Nolan almost single-handedly fended off the Silver Stars in the third quarter as they came out on a 13-2 run to pull within a point, 49-48. Nolan’s jumper pushed the lead back to three, but on the ensuing possession she took a nasty hip check on a screen, falling to the floor as Hammon released a game-tying 3-pointer. San Antonio took its first lead, 53-51, only for Nolan, who was shaken up but did not leave the game, to connect from downtown and give the lead back to Detroit, 54-53. The Shock ended the quarter leading by three. Nolan scored 10 of Detroit’s 14 points during the perilous quarter.
Nolan’s 34 points also surpasses Smith’s 31 points against the Silver Stars last Sunday for the team’s season high. But as dominant as Smith has been against the Silver Stars since last year’s Finals MVP performance, the Shock did just fine, at least early on, with Nikki Teasley taking her place in the lineup.
Teasley, who had played sparingly in her first four games with the club, had five assists at halftime and helped Detroit get 14 assists on 18 field goals in the first half, as well as an 11-0 advantage on the break. But she did not have an assist after halftime, and the Shock had just four as a team in the second half.
Teasley also contributed two 3-pointers and helped get Kara Braxton involved in the offense. Braxton scored on three straight possessions to push the Shock's first quarter lead to 19-10. With Teasley a non-factor most of the second half, the Detroit offense became centered on Nolan and got away from Braxton, who still finished with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting and a team-high seven rebounds.
The Shock (13-15) slip to fifth in the Eastern Conference following Chicago’s win over New York earlier in the day. The Sky are 15-15, but must still meet the Shock head-to-head twice in September.