No Storming Back
Missing Jackson and starting center Janell Burse, the Storm had no defense for Detroit centers Katie Feenstra and Kara Braxton. Detroit’s “two-headed center” as head coach Bill Laimbeer called them, combined for 11 points on 5-of-5 from the field in the first quarter to help the Shock build a 13-point lead. It would snowball from there for the Shock, culminating in a 97-70 victory.
“You look at the end of the day, the stats are probably, I’m going to guess 13, 14 points and probably at least a dozen rebounds or right around there,” Laimbeer said of the duo’s combined efforts. “I mean, that’s pretty decent for a center position, actually that’s great for a center position in this league.”
It’s not hard to find where Detroit gained a 27-point advantage. They scored 40 points in the paint and outscored Seattle from there in the first half, 20-0. Braxton tied her season-high with 17 points off the bench, and Feenstra had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Deanna Nolan had a team-high 18 points.
The Shock spread the wealth to the tune of 28 assists – tying the franchise record – and putting every player in the scoring column, including new addition forward Tausha Mills, who had four points in eight minutes. She replaced Iciss Tillis on the roster Thursday.
Jackson, the WNBA’s leading scorer (23.8 ppg) and rebounder (9.7 rpg), missed her second straight game, as did Burse. The first game turned out no better for the Storm, losing by 21 to last-place Minnesota. Their luck was no better against the first-place Shock, which improved their record to 23-6. With their starting lineup intact, Seattle has managed to play around .500 ball this season and are a safe bet to make the playoffs in the Western Conference.
“They’re a team that’s down a little bit right now, missing a couple of players,” Laimbeer said. “Got whacked (Tuesday), got nothing to play for really except to get one more win some place, so it was important for us to set a tone from the start.”
With Braxton and Feenstra shooting from point-blank range, the Shock shot 12-of-19 (63.2 percent) in the first quarter, allowing the Shock to get open looks pretty much anywhere on the floor. They finished at 48-percent shooting for the game.
With no post presence, the Storm had to rely on perimeter shooting, which worked ever so briefly. Two 3-pointers by Iziane Castro Marques kept the Storm close at 10-8, but they finished the first quarter 4-of-20 (20 percent). Marques finished with 24 points to lead the Storm, but only Betty Lennox joined her in double figures with 13.
Detroit’s long-ball specialist Ivory Latta knocked down back-to-back triples to push the lead to 35-18 with 7:12 left remaining in the second quarter. Latta finished with a professional career-high 14 points, including 4-of-4 from 3-point range.
Detroit’s 17-point lead blew up after halftime, escalating into the mid-20s and reaching as high as 29. “We lost a little bit of focus in the second quarter, didn’t play as hard as we should have,” Laimbeer said. “But it was good to see us come out to start the third and say, ‘Okay, this is our game. Let’s take care of business.’”
Forward Plenette Pierson, who had 12 points and five rebounds, agreed. “Mid-third quarter is when we said ‘Okay, we can put them away and don’t look back from here,’” Pierson said. “We have problems like that when we’re up early that we have mental lapses and don’t really put teams away until late in the game. But today we took advantage of the skill level that we have and the way we were playing and put them away early.”
AfterShocks: Former Shock guard Angelina Williams received her 2006 WNBA championship ring in a pregame ceremony. Williams played in 21 games last season, averaging 2.0 points in 6.3 minutes. During the 2006 playoffs, Williams played in seven games averaging 1.4 points and 0.6 rebounds while connecting on 41.7 percent (5-12) of her field goal attempts.
* Pierson went down awkwardly in the fourth quarter and left the game, but both Laimbeer and Pierson said it was a mild sprain and she expects to play Saturday against Indiana. “She just tweaked it,” Laimbeer said. “You can call it a sprain, you can call it a mild sprain, she’s not in any major discomfort.”