STAR OF THE GAME
Jessica Davenport
Davenport led the Fever with 15 points, scoring in double-figures for the fifth time this season, on an efficient 7-for-11 from the field. She added a team-high seven rebounds and four blocked shots in the win.
UNSUNG HERO
Tamika Catchings
Catchings was as solid as ever for the Fever, with a very balanced stat line. Her 11 points was second on the team behind Davenport, while she also contributed six boards and a trio of assists. Catchings matched her season-high with four steals, a feat she has now done in two consecutive games.
QUOTABLE
Lin Dunn
In general:
“We got a great effort out of the bench. They gave us a real spark. When you can get 26 points out of your bench, that’s a great thing. We did a good job of sharing the ball. I was impressed with the play of Bobbit (Shannon) and Phillips (Erin). We did not turn the ball over much. We did a great job of going inside to Davenport (Jessica).”

Tangela Smith
On the team’s balanced scoring tonight:
“We have the best depth in the league. We can go from one through eleven and play all of our players. And some players coming off the bench could easily start on other teams. We just have a good balance overall and it’s hard to defend that.”

HIDDEN NUMBERS
Points in the paint:
Fever 32, Storm 26
Second-chance points:

Fever 3, Storm 2
Fast-break points:

Fever 8, Storm 10
Points off turnovers:

Fever 20, Storm 15
Starters scoring:

Fever 52, Storm 54
Bench scoring:

Fever 26, Storm 7
Davenport leads Fever to 78-61 win over Storm

Team Record 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Indiana 8-3 23 19 16 20 78
at Seattle 5-4 18 9 20 14 61

By Tom Rietmann

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Fever thumped the defending WNBA champions on Tuesday night thanks to formidable defense, consistent offense and some heady play from a pair of point guards.

Those point guards answered any questions that existed in the wake of a knee injury that has sidelined veteran Briann January for the year. Erin Phillips and Shannon Bobbitt shared the point and handled the position adeptly, combining for 15 points, six assists and four steals in the Fever's rousing 78-61 victory over the Seattle Storm at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Phillips, who started in January's place, and Bobbitt off the bench were major factors as Eastern Conference-leading Indiana lifted its record to 8-3 and extended its winning streak to five in a row.

“Erin and Bobbitt both did a great job for us, and we're going to continue to ride that wave and get ready for Washington,” Fever forward Tamika Catchings said, looking ahead to Saturday night's home game. “The biggest thing we need from them is just to be steady.”

And steady they were.

“We want them to play their game,” Fever guard Katie Douglas said, “and play to their strengths. I think they did that tonight. We need them to be the floor generals out there. Both are high energy. We have the utmost confidence in them.”

One of the point guards' most important statistics was three turnovers on a night the Fever committed only 14. Indiana coach Lin Dunn credited Phillips and Bobbitt with “sticking to the game plan” against a Seattle team that was playing without injured star Lauren Jackson at center.

“Both of them really understood what we wanted to do,” Dunn said. “If we couldn't score early, then we wanted to work to get the ball inside, in the low paint … because they are smaller without Jackson.”

Dunn took a moment after the game to address again the loss of January, who helped her teammates Tuesday night as she sat next to the coaches on the Fever bench.

“It's our first game without Briann,” Dunn said. “It's a tough night. It's a tough night for her, it's a tough night for us. I'm used to seeing her out there warming up. I'm used to seeing her energy on the court. It's a learning experience for all of us.

“But as I said early in the week: We have a lot of confidence in Phillips, and we have a lot of confidence in Bobbitt. And we have confidence in our veteran players that they'll support those two and help them get comfortable during this period of time.”

Phillips, with a red welt under one eye, showed the effects of a physical game against Seattle. Starting her first WNBA game since 2009, Phillips said she had to deal with a few early “butterflies.”

“I have great teammates around me; I have superstars around me,” said the native Australian. “Having them help me and encourage me makes it so much easier. When they have confidence in you, you can't help but have confidence in yourself.”

Bobbitt, who won a pair of national titles at the University of Tennessee, showed her confidence, too.

“It was my time,” she said. “I had an opportunity and I wanted to take advantage of that opportunity.”

Indiana's defense held the Storm to 43.1 percent shooting (25-of-58) and forced 20 turnovers. Guard Sue Bird scored a game-high 21, but only one other Seattle player (Swin Cash with 13) reached double-digit points. The Fever also totaled 11 steals, led by Catchings with four.

Douglas, Indiana's top scorer this year, was held to nine points on 2-of-7 shooting. Nobody worried, however, as Jessica Davenport contributed 15 points, Catchings had 11 and Tangela Smith added 10.

“To have a team that's going to win a championship for us, it can't be one or two players,” Catchings said. “The last couple of years we've talked about having a balanced scoring attack. It seems like every game we're getting there.”

Said Dunn: “The good news is, we have more than just Katie. We have other people on the perimeter who can score. What I like about this team is we're getting a lot of help from a lot of different people.”

To her point, nine different players scored at least five points.

Indiana's bench players did their part again, scoring 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting, compared to just seven points on 3-of-16 for Seattle's reserves. The Fever's reserves have scored 24-plus points in eight of the last nine games.

Shavonte Zellous played 17 minutes off the bench and totaled eight points and three assists while turning in some harassing defense. She had seven points in an 18-7 Indiana run that blew open a six-point game in the fourth quarter.

“I thought we got a great effort out of our bench,” Dunn said. “Once again, they gave us a spark. I can't say enough about Zellous' defense in the second half.”

Postgame Notes:

  • With tonight's win, the Fever is the first team in the WNBA with eight wins and the victory expands the league's longest active streak to five in a row.
  • Indiana's five-game winning streak matches its longest of the entire 2010 season.
  • Seattle's two free throws made and four attempts from the foul line represent the fewest for any team in the WNBA this season. Both those numbers also tie Indiana's opponent record.
  • Including Jessica Davenport's team-high 15 points on 7-11 FG and 1-3 FT, the Fever had nine players score at least five points.
  • Tonight's 17-point win is the Fever's largest of the season and is two points shy of its largest ever vs. the Storm.
  • The Fever had 11 steals tonight, including a season-high four from Tamika Catchings.
  • The Fever has had double-digit steals four times this season, including three of the last four games.
  • Indiana had five different players with three or more assists tonight, including Erin Phillips's season-high six, which is one short of her most in the WNBA.
  • Indiana has had 20+ assists six times this season, and all six have come in the team's last eight games.
  • Prior to having three tonight, Jessica Davenport had never dealt more than one assist in any game in her career. She came into tonight's game with a total of three assists on the season.
  • Davenport added four blocked shots tonight, her fourth of the season with at least three blocked shots.
  • The Indiana bench scored 26 points to the Storm's seven points from its reserves. The bench has scored 24+ points in eight of the last nine games.
  • Seattle's 27 points in the first half are the fewest scored in any half against the Fever this season.
  • Indiana made its last eight field goals in a row and finished the contest having shot 29-54 FG (.537), lifting it to 4-0 this season when shooting 50+ percent from the floor.