Smith’s Three Party
Smith tied a franchise record with seven 3-pointers on just nine attempts for a team-high 23 points in Detroit’s 79-66 victory. The Shock scored the first nine points and built an 18-point lead by the early second quarter.
“They play a zone and obviously they’re trying to keep the inside (post scorers) from hurting them,” said Smith, who missed her only shot inside the arc. “[I] had a lot of good looks and tonight was able to knock them down.”
With a Saturday night game in New York on the horizon, taking care of business early was paramount for the Shock. The task proved easy enough against the WNBA’s worst offensive team. When the Mystics pulled within eight points midway through the third, Smith knocked down two 3-pointers in 76 seconds to make it a 14-point game. Detroit’s lead eventually reached 21 points, never again dipping below double digits .
“That’s not our M.O., keeping a lead like that throughout, but I’ll take it,” said Shock head coach Bill Laimbeer. “I’d like to get as many games like that as possible.”
The only Detroit triple not made by Smith came from Stacey Lovelace, who was making her Shock debut. A Detroit native in her seventh WNBA season, Lovelace was released by the Atlanta Dream earlier in the week. The 6-foot-4 Lovelace formed an imposing duo in the third quarter with 6-foot-6 Kara Braxton. After a Braxton block resulted from a Lovelace double team, Lovelace knocked down a triple at the top of the key to make it 57-41.
“I’m excited. Stacey and I go way back, we played against each other in college, played at Minnesota together [in 2004],” said Smith, who played at Ohio State against Lovelace’s Purdue Boilermakers. “We’ve been kind of battling over the years. She can spread the D, she can play a 3-4. Obviously she’s been doing this a long time, understands the game, understands the league. I think she’ll help.”
Lovelace’s arrival coincides with a recent slump by rookie starter Tasha Humphrey, who plays a similar style to Lovelace. But Humphrey responded the right way, scoring eight of her 12 points in the first quarter as the Shock staked a 23-11 lead. “Tasha hasn’t played well lately, and now we got some competition for the position for what she can do,” Laimbeer said. “I was glad that Humphrey picked it up today.”
In their last five games prior to Friday, the Mystics (7-12) were the WNBA’s worst shooting team from the floor (38.2%) and from the foul line (62.1%), while producing the fewest points (66.4) and assists (12.4). Yet they would be just one spot out of the playoffs if the postseason were to begin today.
“We kind of kept them at a distance,” Smith said. “They’re a team that plays well from behind, makes runs, beats people. But I thought everybody was ready mentally and physically to play and did that throughout the game.”
Now 9-0 at The Palace, the Shock head to New York for the first time since eliminating the Liberty from the 2007 playoffs. “It’s awesome to get a win, especially a win at home. We’re the only undefeated team at home and … [Laimbeer] wanted to keep it that way,” said Cheryl Ford, who had 14 points and seven rebounds. “And of course we didn’t want to spend a lot of energy with our starters because we have a tough game in New York.”
Detroit’s first two losses in 2008 came on the road after playing the night before.