Pierson plays in Game 2, hopeful for Game 3

Pierson Perseveres


Ypsilanti, Mich. -- Plenette Pierson wore a black protective sleeve on her tender right shoulder in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.

She also wore a constant grimace. You could see it on every screen she set, on all four rebounds she grabbed, on all four free throws she shot. Especially the free throws.

But as far as Pierson was concerned, those were both better than wearing street clothes for a third straight playoff game. With Detroit's season on the line, the 6-foot-2 forward played admirably in the Shock's 64-55 victory.

"I'm hurting but it felt good to get out there and play and especially win and live another day," she said. "I knew it was something that I had to do for my team and we sacrificed things to get to our goal. Cheryl Ford's done it, Deanna Nolan's still doing it. It's just great."

A week to the day her right shoulder was dislocated against Indiana, Pierson suited up against New York. She finished with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field, four rebounds and two assists.

"I give all the heart and credit in the world to Plenette Pierson today," Shock head coach Bill Laimbeer said. "Man, if you (could) know how bad she is and how much it hurts her, for her to go out there and play that hard."

That said, don't expect any cliches from the Shock about what an inspiration Pierson was to her teammates. Sunday was, as Deanna Nolan coined it, "a win-or-go-home" game. They needed no further motivation than to fight for their playoff lives.

"We're past the emotional part with injuries and stuff like that," Laimbeer said. "We want the players on the court."

Laimbeer - who found out Pierson would try to play when he boarded the team bus - turned to his star reserve three minutes into the game and New York already leading, 7-2. "If I had seen something I didn't like, I wouldn't have played her," he said.

Pierson closed the first quarter with a left-handed score under the basket to give Detroit a 15-14 lead. "She drove the hoop even with her injury. She rebounded, she played solid defense. That's what she does, and that's what she's always done for us," Laimbeer said. "And that's what she brought to us today."

Pierson played 24 minutes and, despite the physical toll, played aggressively away from the ball, setting picks and physically defending New York's capable post scorers, Cathrine Kraayeveld and Janel McCarville.

McCarville scored nine points Sunday after a 17-point outing in Game 1.

"You can see what she gave us tonight. She gave us what we needed off the bench," said Nolan, who scored nine of her 22 points in the fourth quarter. "She took it to their posts and fought through the pain. I'm sure on a scale from 1 to 10 that pain was a 20, but she played through it."

Pierson scored one point in Detroit's dominant 25-9 fourth quarter. She earned it the hard way, getting knocked to the floor and then connecting on the second of two free throws. "I truly felt bad for her because when she goes to the free throw line it's going to be an experience," Laimbeer said. "People don't realize how much it hurts to shoot the ball like that (with her injury) from the free throw line."

"I don't think I could put a word on an amount of pain," said Pierson, who also split her first two free throws.

Pierson found ways to compensate for the pain in her shooting motion. With two minutes left, she made a quick swing pass to Elaine Powell, who knocked down the baseline jumper and gave Detroit its first nine-point lead, 61-52. She left the game for good six seconds later.

"She came out with two minutes to go in the game and said she can't play anymore today," Laimbeer said. "Part of it is fatigue I'm sure, part of it was the pain was starting to grow on her. We'll see what happens tomorrow."

Detroit is 2-5 without Pierson this season, including the Game 1 loss at New York. With no days off between games 2 and 3, there's no guarantee Pierson will be able to play Monday. Last year Ford faced similar difficulty in playing consecutive games on her injured right knee. That means a long night for Shock head trainer Laura Ramus.

"Laura and I are going to have a marathon treatment session tonight to get ready for tomorrow. I hope to be out there again," Pierson said. "I played through pain today, a lot of pain today. It can't be that much worse - I mean, it's going to be worse - but you can't think about it."

Like Tweet said at the beginning, it's win or go home and I don't want to go home yet."