Pros: Smith an All-Star, Braxton plays big. Cons: No Ford, Injuries

Wednesday Wrap-Up

You would not have entered Wednesday's game between the Shock and the Dream expecting a duel between 6-foot-6 Kara Braxton and 6-foot-5 Michelle Snow.

But that's exactly what occurred as Braxton (25 points) and Snow (20 points) each collected a season high in the Dream's 98-95 overtime win at The Palace. Both centers also collected 12 rebounds and were especially active on the offensive glass.

Braxton, who started in place of Cheryl Ford, connected on a career-high 12 field goals on just 16 attempts. In a season-high 31 minutes, Braxton delivered one of her most complete performances with six offensive rebounds, two blocks and just one turnover.

In sign of maturation from the fifth-year center, Braxton improved as the game went on, not missing a shot after halftime (10-for-10). By overtime, she had clearly become the Shock's best offensive option - and she delivered, scoring all eight Detroit points in the extra session on four shots.

If Braxton excelled in overtime, the fourth quarter belonged to Snow, who scored 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting. She also had three offensive rebounds, nearly turning the last one into a game winner at the end of regulation. Video replays showed her put-back attempt came after the buzzer.

Filling in for All-Star center Erika DeSouza, Snow scored 18 of her 20 points after halftime. Atlanta surely thought there would be more nights like this when they made the former Houston Comet one of their big catches in free agency. Snow, who averaged 11.4 points per game starting for Houston from 2005-08, is scoring just 4.1 points as a reserve for the Dream. She had not even scored in double figures before Wednesday.

Braxton, meanwhile, has been scoring a deceptive 9.9 points per game. In reality, her scoring has come in bunches, as her last four games demonstrate. She posted 25, five, 18 and four points. The 25 fell one shy of Braxton's career high, which came against the Dream last season.

Injuries Holding Back Shock:

The All-Star recess couldn't come at a better time for the Shock, which has seen franchise cornerstones Cheryl Ford and Deanna Nolan conspicuously affected by injuries.

Ford, a three-time league rebounding champion, is still one of the league's best when she gets on the floor. Her 7.6 rebounds per game would rank third, but she hasn't played enough to qualify, missing five of Detroit's 14 games.

Ford played 28 minutes in the overtime loss at Phoenix Saturday and then sat out the following night's game at Sacramento with soreness in her surgically repaired right knee. At the time it seemed a precautionary measure until Ford also couldn't go Wednesday. Head coach Rick Mahorn said Ford was a game-time decision.

"You're always concerned," he replied when asked if Ford's shaky status bothered him. "Hopefully this break will give her some rest. She had an adjustment made earlier today so hopefully [the knee] will be right for us when we get back."

In Nolan's case, she's not missing games - just a lot of shots. She didn't hit a field goal after halftime Wednesday, missing her last 13 attempts and finishing 3-for-20. (Combined with her 2-for-14 effort at Atlanta in June, Nolan is shooting 14.7 percent against the Dream this season.)

An All-WNBA Second Team guard in 2008, Nolan's signature clutch shooting has eluded her, especially down the stretch. Trailing by a point with two minutes left in overtime Wednesday, she lost the ball to Dream rookie Angel McCoughtry, which led to a 3-point dagger by Chamique Holdsclaw, and then missed two potential game-tying jumpers.

Nolan's shooting percentages - 38 percent from the floor and 28 percent from 3-point range - rank among the lowest of her career.

It's not hard to see why. The black neoprene sleeve over her right shoulder and white brace on her left knee indicate just the beginning of the damage. Remarkably, Nolan has missed only one game, and that was due to a third injury, a hamstring strain, which could linger the rest of the season if it doesn't heal before the Shock host the Lynx July 31.

"As a player it's like hell [with] all the injuries," said Nolan, who still played 42:28 of 45:00 minutes Wednesday. "I've never been injured like this before, this many times before in my life except for this season."

Ready for All-Star Weekend

Athletes always want to be popular with the fans (former Shock coach Bill Laimbeer proving the exception to the rule), but sometimes respect from other corners carries a little more weight.

"It means a lot that the coaches vote you in," said Katie Smith, who was voted into Saturday's All-Star game by the Eastern Conference coaches (minus Shock coach Rick Mahorn, who could not vote for his own player). "It just shows that they respect what you do and how you've been playing this year."

Smith is averaging a team-high 14.7 points and shooting better than she ever has before in a Shock uniform (44.0 percent from the field, 40.0 from 3-point range).

This will be Smith's second time representing the Shock in the All-Star game and seventh appearance of her career, tying her with Fever center Yolanda Griffith for second all-time. (Sparks center Lisa Leslie was voted to her eighth All-Star game, but will not play.)

Smith's most memorable All-Star moment didn't happen in an actual All-Star game, citing the 2004 exhibition at New York's Radio City Music Hall between the U.S. Olympic Team (including Smith) and a WNBA select team.

"It's just a lot of fun to be there with your fellow comrades and playing with them rather than beating up on each other," Smith said.