98

63

STAR OF THE GAME
Jessica Davenport
Coming off the bench, Davenport scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Her 16 points were a game high in the Fever victory.
UNSUNG HERO
Tangela Smith
Smith set the tone early for the Fever with nine of her 15 points coming in the first quarter. She also added six rebounds in 21 minutes of action.
QUOTABLE
Lin Dunn
In general:
“We came out with lots of energy. We wanted to set the tempo early by attacking them. I’m very pleased with our bench. I am also very pleased that we won the boards. Our defense is best when we are rested. With fresh legs you see us at our best on defense.”

Shavonte Zellous
On quality bench play:
“We were ready to play tonight, like every other game. But tonight specifically we did a good job of controlling the game and getting the ball inside and getting some defensive stops. We are just staying together. We know the second half is going to be hard. We have a lot of games on the road. The first half we had more home games. But we just stayed together and came ready to play.”

HIDDEN NUMBERS
Points in the paint:
Fever 40, Sparks 24
Second-chance points:

Fever 16, Sparks9
Fast-break points:

Fever 9, Sparks 5
Points off turnovers:

Fever 18, Sparks 9
Starters scoring:

Fever 41, Sparks 34
Bench scoring:

Fever 57, Sparks 29
Davenport and Bench Help Indiana Rout Los Angeles

Team Record 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Indiana 14-6 27 26 24 21 98
Los Angeles 7-11 15 15 16 17 63

By Tom Rietmann | July 31, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Fever received a record-breaking performance from its reserves Sunday night and combined it with a continuing trend of playing defense with vise-grip intensity.

The result? Indiana captured a dominating 98-63 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks at Conseco Fieldhouse. The Fever bench produced a franchise-record 57 points, which tied for fifth best in WNBA history. And the Fever defense forced the Sparks to buckle under its ferocious pressure, holding the visitors to 35.9 percent shooting from the field.

The victory was Indiana's fourth in a row and solidified its lead atop the Eastern Conference with a 14-6 record. Every Fever player in uniform scored. No Fever player was on the floor less than 16 minutes. The entire team could enjoy the moment.

“The (recent) All-Star break was great for us,” said center Jessica Davenport, whose 16 points off the bench led Indiana. “We were able to refresh a little, rest our bodies and our minds.

“Coming out of the All-Star break, we've been having some great defensive efforts. And that comes from everybody. When the starters come out and the bench comes in, we need to bring that energy. We've been doing a good job with that.”

Indiana has held opponents to an average of 60.1 points during its four-game winning streak. Three of the opponents have shot 36 percent or worse.

“I definitely think we've turned it up a notch defensively,” center Tammy Sutton-Brown said. “We know every game is so important and it will come down to the end of the season for home-court advantage (in the playoffs). We really want that.”

Coach Lin Dunn, like many of her players, pointed to the All-Star break as a time when the Fever defense relocated its momentum. The Fever dropped three straight games before beating Chicago right before the mid-season break.

“We're always a better defensive team when we're rested and fresh,” Dunn said. “Of all the things we do, our defense takes the most energy. We pick up full court, we trap, we rotate and really contest everything. When we get to a position where we're fatigued and run down, it really hits our defense first.

“Having the All-Star break, getting the time off and coming back with fresh legs, then you see us once again at that high level.”

Los Angeles Coach Joe Bryant noticed. “Defensively, they took us out of everything,” he said about Indiana.

The Sparks were coming off a victory Saturday night in Chicago. If they were fatigued, Indiana wanted to take advantage and used some full-court pressure and uptempo offense from the opening tip. The Fever took its first lead on a free throw by Sutton-Brown with 4:32 left in the first quarter and ran away with the game thereafter.

Tangela Smith was the only Fever starter in double-digit scoring with 15. Interestingly, the low scorer for Indiana was star forward Tamika Catchings with four, but she collected a game-high 11 rebounds in just 20 minutes.

Besides the 16 points from Davenport, Indiana's bench also generated double-figure scorers in Shavonte Zellous (13) and rookie Jeanette Pohlen (10). With one more point from Shyra Ely and Shannon Bobbitt, who each scored nine, Indiana's bench would have established a WNBA record with five players in double digits.

“This team has the most depth of any I've played on in my career,” said Smith, who's in her 14th WNBA season.. “We have a lot of weapons. It's hard to defend us.”

As Dunn pointed out, WNBA championship-contending teams need to have eight, nine and 10 players who can contribute regularly. Every Indiana player has produced double-figure scoring at some point this season.

“Everybody we picked up in the offseason is contributing, and I think that's key,” Dunn said.

Other strong characteristics of the 2011 Indiana team are its resolve and work ethic.

“We're a team that's never satisfied, and I think that's a very good thing,” said point guard Erin Phillips. “We don't want to be complacent with our defense or anything. We're always looking to improve.”

Postgame Notes:

  • The leading candidate for the WNBA's Most Improved Player award, Jessica Davenport led the Fever with 16 points tonight. Davenport has scored 10+ points in a team-high 11 straight games this season and has led Indiana in scoring four times.
  • Davenport also led the Fever with three steals, tying her career-best.
  • Tonight's 35-point win is the Fever's largest of the season and it is the team's second largest win ever. Indiana defeated Minnesota by 38 points (89-51) in June 2010.
  • The Fever's 92-51 lead late in the fourth quarter tonight was the largest for the team at any point in any game in its history.
  • With her seven field goals tonight, Tangela Smith has made 1,999 in her career--fourth most in WNBA history.
  • Smith scored 15 points tonight, her most since scoring a season-high 16 in the season-opener vs. Chicago, 6/4.
  • With all five reserves in uniform scoring at least nine points, the Fever racked up a franchise record 57 points off the bench. That ties the fifth most ever scored by a bench in WNBA history.
  • With six different players hitting at least one 3-pt FG, the Fever made 10 tonight--one short of the team's season-high.
  • With her three 3-pt FG tonight, Shannon Bobbitt tied her career-high and it is her most in a Fever uniform.
  • Including Tamika Catchings's team-high six and a season-high five from Shavonte Zellous, the Fever had four players with four or more assists and the team's total of 24 tied its most this season.
  • Not only did every player in uniform for the Fever log between 16 and 24 minutes, but all 10 also had at least one rebound, as Indiana outrebounded the Sparks, 41-32.
  • Tamika Catchings's four points tonight ended a run of 14 straight games in double figures
  • The Fever's 10 turnovers tonight tied its third fewest of the season.
  • Tamika Catchings's 11 rebounds tonight give her 10+ in five games this season. Her four offensive rebounds are her most of the last eight games.
  • ndiana had three players come off the bench to score in double figures, one off the WNBA record which is shared by Minnesota (7/31/09) and Los Angeles (7/18/11).
  • Indiana's 40 points in the paint tonight are its second most of the season, and its most since scoring 42 in the paint in a loss at Connecticut, 7/17.