Shock Defense Sinks Lynx
Deanna Nolan scored 14 of her game-high 21 points for Detroit in the first half, most of which the Shock spent climbing uphill after a sluggish start. After a team-high 22 in the season opener Saturday, Plenette Pierson scored all 12 of her points before halftime Tuesday. “We did start real slow, but then we started playing harder, which helped,” Shock head coach Bill Laimbeer said. “But we have a long way to go with the offense.”
Solid defense, however, helped carry the Shock through the rough stretches against a turnover-prone Lynx team. Ten of the Lynx’s 11 players contributed to their 19 turnovers. The Shock blocked six shots and had 10 steals – six by forward Cheryl Ford, tying the Shock franchise record.
Augustus, the 2006 rookie of the year, had eight points in the first quarter, the last of which put the Lynx ahead, 18-10. At the time, Augustus and 2007 No. 1 draft pick Lindsey Harding (four points) had outscored the Shock by themselves. Augustus, however, would score only 11 the rest of the game and finished with a team-high 19 points on just nine field-goal attempts. Harding was 3-of-12 for six points with seven rebounds and a game-high six assists.
“Augustus is going to score any shots you give her, she’s going to create for herself, we just had to have great help team defense and I thought we did a better job of that in the second half,” Nolan said. “And Harding, being a rookie, she’s still trying to get used to the WNBA game. She took her shots and went to the hole when she got them, but I thought we did a good job on them.”
The Shock had only five field goals in the first but still managed a 23-23 tie. Early in the second quarter, Pierson scored 10 of Detroit’s 11 points during one span, culminating in a 35-30 lead. Laimbeer said Pierson’s play seemed to be the game’s critical turning point. “I think in the middle of the first quarter, Plenette came in the game and gave us a big energy boost, and the rest of the team kind of picked it up from there,” Laimbeer said.
Nolan had two three-point plays and Kara Braxton scored twice in the final minute to give Detroit an eight-point lead at halftime, 48-40. Pierson went 6-for-6 from the field, all in the first half. “I think I was one of the first subs off the bench, so Bill had been preaching about how we got to bring some energy,” Pierson said. “That’s what they guys on the bench are supposed to do is bring energy whenever they come in, so I was just coming in and just trying to hopefully change the pace of the game.”
The Shock’s defensive pressure was noticeably higher after halftime, and resulted in an 8-0 run to open the quarter. The Shock poured it on the rest of the third, scoring 23 points on 68.8 percent shooting (11-of-16) en route to a 19-point lead. “I thought our defense picked up, we got out running, fast-breaking, finding each other,” Nolan said of the second-half surge. “I thought in the first half we got a little flat-footed, they took it to us the first five minutes of the game.”
The Shock improve to 2-0, while the Lynx become the league’s first 0-3 team this season, albeit against three of the league’s toughest teams in Indiana, Sacramento and Detroit.
AfterShocks: Pistons head coach Flip Saunders, forward Rasheed Wallace (in a Red Wings’ Gordie Howe jersey) and forward Amir Johnson were all courtside Tuesday night. Center Nazr Mohammed also was in attendance.