SAN ANTONIO, Oct. 3, 2008 -- The Detroit Shock got off to a huge start in Game 2, jumping out to a 19-2 advantage in the first quarter, but ended up needing a clinical fourth quarter to hold on and shoot down the Stars for a second straight game in San Antonio, 69-61. The Shock now own a 2-0 advantage with the next two games, if necessary, scheduled for Sunday and Monday in Detroit.
Veteran Katie Smith again led the way for the Eastern champs with 22 points and six assists in 40 minutes of play.
And once again, the Shock defense was strong, limiting the Silver Stars to just 32.8 percent shooting and holding Sophia Young to just 11 points.
But enough of the layperson's analysis. Let's get the goods from the experts. We spoke with several after the game to get their takes on what happened.
Nancy Lieberman, WNBA.com and ESPN analyst
Detroit won this game because they dominated the inside. They did a great job in the fourth quarter of rarely fouling. They avoided putting San Antonio on the line where they could get easy points. And let's be honest, the foul line is the only place San Antonio could get uncontested shots.
Detroit's game plan is to do everything it can to get the ball out of Becky Hammon's hands. And if she does get it, the plan is just to swarm her.
So for the Stars, Erin Buescher's got to be able to knock down a couple of shots. Ruth Riley's got to be able to knock down a couple of shots. But they didn't tonight. They didn't shoot well, they're not rebounding with Detroit and there's certainly a lot of frustration.
Becky has been working hard trying to get more involved and, once again, she did a great job of attacking from the foul line. But other than that, they seem totally overmatched at every position and hardly get anything off the bench. So somebody has to make a stand and help them.
Becky hit a couple of big threes late in the fourth, but every point is coming with so much difficulty for her. Nothing is easy. And the other piece of it is that they're just getting dominated on the inside.
The experience of Detroit knowing what that next level is is radiating out on the court. They're showing their wisdom. They're showing that they've been there before.
But despite all of that, I don't think the Stars are out of this yet. They're talented enough to go to Detroit and get a game. But this isn't a team like Phoenix last year with four very capable scorers in Diana Taurasi, Cappie Pondexter, Penny Taylor and Tangela Smith. The Stars are having trouble finding one primary scorer right now. And if you can't hit shots against Detroit, you're dead.
In the eight quarters of play so far in this series, the Silver Stars have scored 20 points just once, in the fourth quarter of Game 1. If they can't score in transition, their half-court offense is just getting smothered by Detroit. Buescher seems reluctant to take that outside shot.
The Shock just have to keep doing what they're doing. They're playing perfect basketball. They had just eight turnovers in Game 1. Tonight they won big on the boards. They went inside with ease. They're not letting San Antonio get transition points. And they're taking away the three. The Stars were 0 for their first 12. Keep doing what they're doing.
Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury F and 2008 All-WNBA First TeamerTwo words: Katie. Smith. If you didn't watch the game, those are the only two words you need to know. She controlled the game from the tip to the final buzzer. Bottom line.
Game 3 is a potential closeout game for the Shock. And if they keep struggling without Helen (Darling) and Edwige (Lawson-Wade) and Vickie is still a little hesitant out there (because of injury), the Stars are in trouble.
It's hard to play against Detroit. They do so many things to disrupt your offense. And San Antonio showed a lot more tonight than in Game 1, taking the lead in the third quarter. But they just didn't have enough to push through.
It's gonna be a tough Game 3 on Sunday. It could go either way.
Barbara Turner, Connecticut Sun G/F
We played a lot against Detroit this year, so I feel like I understand them a little. And their experience was really the determining factor tonight. The step-back shot that Katie (Smith) made in the corner told the tale of the kind of team they were tonight. It was a dagger. They're a veteran-led team and it showed tonight.
But I think San Antonio has a shot to get back into this series. They've been good all year on the road. They have the best road record in the league (at 9-8). But they have to dictate play against Detroit. Be patient, try to slow the game down a little bit. That's when they're most effective. If they're able to do that, I think they could give the Shock a run for their money, even in Detroit.
I also wonder if the Shock not playing at the Palace will hurt them. That could be a little bit of a disadvantage. It will be interesting to see.
Detroit obviously has the edge going back with a 2-0 lead, but I will say that tonight, San Antonio showed a lot of fight. They didn't go down easy. And I think we're gonna see the same thing in Game 3. They're not gonna give up.
Lindsey Harding, Minnesota Lynx G
The Shock seemed very focused tonight. And they were just making shots. That's really all there is to it. And San Antonio was struggling from the outside.
But you know that San Antonio is always going to come back and they did. Regardless of how this series ends up, this is a great series. These are two really good teams and these have been two hard-fought games so far.
I still wouldn't rule out San Antonio. Any time, any place, they have a chance to win a game. Then another. Then another. That's what it's gonna take. And Becky (Hammon) scored a lot this game, but they could have gone to Sophia Young a lot more and they'll learn and they'll build off of this.
I also want to say that this is a great place to play. We had over 16,000 fans here tonight and that's just awesome. The support is awesome.