Bench carries the load in defeat

Role Reversal

When the Seattle Storm visited The Palace Wednesday night, it was their second game in as many nights. Rested and playing at home, the Detroit Shock won by 14.

Saturday night, Seattle enjoyed those same advantages, leading wire to wire for a 75-67 victory. The loss snapped Detroit’s league-best six-game winning streak.

The Shock - who flew into town Saturday morning after defeating Sacramento Friday night - looked sluggish from the outset, falling behind 11-2. Seattle’s starters outscored Detroit’s 68-29, led by 24 from 2007 scoring champion Lauren Jackson and a season-high 15 from Sheryl Swoopes.

“That’s life,” Detroit’s Katie Smith said of playing two nights in a row. “They did it, we do it … we just couldn’t find the range early. They came out and pushed the ball and were aggressive. Obviously playing them so close and after winning at our place they were amped up.”

Desperate for energy, Shock head coach Bill Laimbeer went deep into his bench, playing seldom used rookie Tasha Humphrey early in the second quarter. It was another former Georgia Bulldog, center Kara Braxton, that gave Detroit their best scoring punch off the bench. She had 14 points, making eight of nine free throws.

Rookie Alexis Hornbuckle padded her league-high steals total with four of Detroit’s eight ball thefts and grabbed a season-high seven rebounds. Plenette Pierson also had a season-high on the glass with 10 while chipping in nine points.

A night after combining for 54 points on 50 percent shooting, Smith and Deanna Nolan couldn’t find the touch in Seattle. Nolan missed her first seven shots, finishing 2-of-15 for five points. Smith scored 16 of her team-high 18 points after halftime on 6-of-18 shooting. Smith had 33 against the Storm Wednesday.

“Our guards are where we really thrive and for our guards to shoot as poorly as they did tonight, it put us in a little bit of a hole,” Shock head coach Bill Laimbeer said. “We had our moment where if we’d made a couple shots and got a couple of stops we would have gotten back into it, but we just didn’t get done.”

Trailing 40-28 at halftime, Detroit’s bench accounted for 22 of their 28 points.

In addition to bench scoring, the Shock managed to stay within 10 points most of the game thanks to a season-low eight turnovers and a 13-2 advantage on the offensive glass. The two offensive rebounds for Seattle tied a franchise low.

“We gave it a good effort,” Laimbeer said. “Our shots just didn’t go in. We took care of the ball, we rebounded well, we played okay defense and the shots didn’t go in so we lost.”

Detroit appeared to have a chance, when they pulled within five, 64-59, midway through the fourth quarter. Former Shock forward Swin Cash’s jumper pushed the lead back to 10, then Sue Bird and Swoopes each drained deep 3-pointers to put the game out of reach, 75-62.

“They were in zone so in order to make the zone pay you have to knock down some open shots,” said Bird, who finished with 14 points and eight assists. “I hadn’t shot up to that point against the zone so I just let it fly.”

Seattle was 6-of-11 from 3-point range, while Detroit was just 3-of-14.

The Shock’s only prior loss also came on the road and on the back end of playing consecutive nights. They have three days to rest in Los Angeles before playing the Sparks’ rookie phenom Candace Parker for the first time Wednesday.