Smith, Shock Top Silver Stars

Associated Press
Thursday, October 2, 2008

SAN ANTONIO, Oct. 1 -- Someone finally figured out how to stop Deanna Nolan. Katie Smith and Taj McWilliams-Franklin were more than enough to help the Detroit Shock make up for it.

Smith scored 25 points and former Mystic McWilliams-Franklin had 24, and they helped Detroit take a first step toward reclaiming the WNBA title by leading the Shock to a 77-69 win over the San Antonio Silver Stars on Wednesday night in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals.

"It was clear they were trying to take Deanna Nolan away," Shock Coach Bill Laimbeer said. "But Katie Smith was huge. Taj was phenomenal."

Nolan scored 10 points, a playoff low this season after averaging 20.7 points per game in the postseason coming into the Finals. She made 5 of 16 from the floor and missed all four of her three-point attempts.

"Katie and Taj set the tone for us," Nolan said. "It's not necessarily that I have to get off [and score] because we have other players that can step in and help."

Smith, a member of the Shock team that won the title two years ago, had nine rebounds, was 4 of 8 on three-pointers and made all five of her free throws while playing all 40 minutes. McWilliams-Franklin was 11 of 16 from the floor despite asthma problems.

The Silver Stars, who lost to an Eastern Conference team for the first time this season after 14 wins, were led by Sophia Young's 21 points and 16 from Ann Wauters.

San Antonio's Becky Hammon, who scored 35 points in the decisive Game 3 of the Western Conference finals on Sunday, scored 13 points on 4-of-10 shooting against Detroit.

"I thought we let them get too comfortable offensively," Hammon said. "We just weren't ourselves in the first half. It's disappointing to come out and lack energy in a game like that."

Detroit, WNBA champions in 2006, also won Game 1 last year but lost a five-game series to Phoenix. Game 2 of the best-of-five series is Friday in San Antonio.

Smith's jumper from 19 feet with 8 minutes 19 seconds to play gave Detroit a 14-point lead. But the Silver Stars outscored the Shock 20-6 during the next six minutes.

Hammon scored on two straight layups and then hit two free throws to tie the game with 2:16 to go.

Kara Braxton then scored inside and was fouled. She missed the free throw, but Detroit rebounded and Smith sank a jumper to make it 73-69 with 1:44 left. The Shock hit four free throws to close out the game.

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