Washington Mystics forward Chamique Holdsclaw chipped a bone in the index finger of her left (non-shooting) hand during tonight's inaugural WNBA All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden, in which the West beat the East, 79-61.
Holdsclaw said she hoped she would be able to play in a few days, but an East team doctor said she could be out up to three weeks.
Holdsclaw jammed her finger early in the game when a pass to her from East guard Teresa Weatherspoon was partially tipped by the West's Michele Timms. Although Holdsclaw caught the ball and played the rest of the first half, scoring five points, she was in pain.
"The next play down [after the finger was injured] I'm like, `Gosh, my finger hurts,' " Holdsclaw said. "I go to the bench and I'm like, `Oh, my finger, my finger.' Everyone was like, `Just ice it.' . . . I go in at halftime, and it still was really bothering me and it swelled down to my wrist. And I had it X-rayed and they told me it was fractured."
Holdsclaw made 2 of 6 shots and had five rebounds. She sat on the bench in the second half with ice wrapped around her finger.
The Mystics, who have 18 games left in the season, will play Detroit Friday night at MCI Center and then visit Charlotte on Saturday. If Holdsclaw were out for three weeks, that would mean missing 10 games. However, Holdsclaw was optimistic about her return.
"I'll be playing Saturday, if it's up to me," she said. "Tape 'em up and let's go. I think I'm good with one hand, you know?"
Playing with or without Holdsclaw, the East was dominated by the West tonight. Los Angeles center Lisa Leslie was the game's most valuable player after scoring 13 points and grabbing five rebounds. Utah's Natalie Williams scored a game-high 14 points. The West was led by Houston's trio of Sheryl Swoopes, Cynthia Cooper and Tina Thompson, who combined for 23 points and 17 rebounds.
Washington Mystics guard Nikki McCray, who started for the East, scored four points on 2-of-11 shooting.
The West had a size advantage, and used it to outrebound the East 48-36, outscore the East on second-chance baskets 14-3, and outscore the East in the lane 50-22.
"There wasn't much we could do to combat that when you don't have size on your bench," East Coach Linda Hill-MacDonald of Cleveland said. "The tallest player on our bench was 6 feet 3, the next tallest after that was 6-2. . . . We had three post players, they had five. . . . I was asked to limit [New York center Kym Hampton's] minutes. . . . There's not much you can do."
The West led at halftime 43-29, showing off its speed and depth. The West opened a 25-9 lead on a layup by Williams with 10 minutes 27 seconds left. The East rallied, with Orlando's Shannon Johnson making two three-pointers and a jumper and Holdsclaw completing a three-point play to close the lead to 31-27 with 5:01 left.
Then the East missed seven straight shots and turned over the ball twice, once by Holdsclaw. Sacramento's Yolanda Griffith scored back-to-back baskets and Swoopes blocked a jump shot by New York's Weatherspoon and took it the length of the court for a layup and a 14-point West lead.
The rout continued in the second half. Williams made a layup to open the half and Minnesota's Tonya Edwards hit a three-pointer to stretch the lead to 51-33. Even when the West missed eight straight shots and committed two turnovers, the East could not get closer than 10 points. A no-look, over-the-shoulder pass from Sacramento's Ticha Penicheiro to Griffith, who slid past the East players for a layup, made the score 73-59 with 2:33 left.
"Our defense was about 300 percent better than I ever dreamed it would be in an all-star game," West Coach Van Chancellor of Houston said. "I thought it was good. We were switching on screens. We looked like we had been working on defense for a long time. . . . I thought we had a tremendous height advantage. I thought we were stronger than the East inside. We decided to run America's offense: get high-low, try to pound the ball inside some."
WNBA Notes: The crowd of 18,649 included a few famous people. Whitney Houston sang the national anthem. On hand to watch were Tipper Gore, journalists Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric, model Tyra Banks, actor Billy Baldwin, singer Joan Jett, actress Tracy Ullman and five members of the U.S. Women's World Cup soccer team. . . .
Jason Walters, of Germantown, won $10,000 by making a layup in a halftime shooting contest. If Cooper had made a half-court shot on his behalf, Walters would have taken home $1 million, but she launched an air ball. . . .
The Mystics' practice on Thursday is open to the public. The team will practice from 4 to 5 p.m. at MCI Center.
CAPTION: Los Angeles Sparks center Lisa Leslie, battling Chamique Holdsclaw, ends up with the basketball and the MVP award in inaugural WNBA All-Star Game.