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20080712/DETNYL
Shock-Liberty Preview
By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN, STATS Editor

The Detroit Shock clamped down on the New York Liberty when the arch-rivals met for the first time this season. It was the Liberty who stifled the Shock, though, in the teams' last game at Madison Square Garden.

Detroit returns to New York for the first time since last year's playoffs as it looks to end a three-game road slide Saturday.

The Liberty (9-9) and Shock have already played once this season, a 72-62 win for the Shock on May 25. Detroit built a 54-29 lead through three quarters over New York, which shot 30.8 percent (20-of-65) overall and used a 33-point outburst in the fourth quarter to make the final score more respectable.

The Shock have won three straight over the Liberty since falling 73-51 in their last trip to the Garden in the opener of last year's first-round playoff series. Detroit (14-6) managed to shoot 33.3 percent (21-of-63) in that game, but won the next two en route to advancing to the WNBA finals.

Detroit increased its lead atop the East to one full game over Connecticut by beating Washington 79-66 on Friday. Katie Smith made seven 3-pointers and scored 23 points and Cheryl Ford added 14 points as the Shock improved to 9-0 at home.

"Any win right now is nice, but especially with a big game coming up tomorrow," Smith said Friday. "They play a lot of zone, and that means I'm going to get some good looks. Tonight I was able to knock them down."

Shock All-Star guard Deanna Nolan, however, left the game late in the third quarter due to a bruised left leg and didn't return, but she expects to play Saturday.

New York is playing its first home game since a 102-96 triple-overtime win over Indiana on June 26 after going 2-3 on a Western Conference road trip. The Liberty fought gamely before falling 83-79 to league-leading San Antonio in the finale of the stretch on Tuesday.

"We didn't play our best game tonight and it's something we might watch film on and learn from what went wrong," New York guard Shameka Christon said.

The loss certainly wasn't Christon's fault as she scored 27 points to continue her surge. She was named Eastern Conference player of the week for leading New York to a 2-1 mark the previous week by averaging 24.0 points while making 15 of 23 3-pointers.

New York had never reached the century mark before this season, but has scored at least 100 in its last two home games, including a 105-72 victory over Phoenix on June 22.

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