57 - 76 Final
  for this game

Hoffman scores 16 points to lead Fever past Sparks

Jul 23, 2010 - 2:36 AM By CLIFF BRUNT AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Even by the Indiana Fever's lofty defensive standards, this performance was impressive.

Indiana held the Los Angeles Sparks to 21 points and six field goals in the second half of a 76-57 win Thursday night. The WNBA leaders in scoring defense, turnovers forced and field-goal percentage defense won easily after trailing 36-35 at the break.

"It was energy on defense," Indiana coach Lin Dunn said. "We forced them into some bad shots, we got some turnovers, they were struggling scoring. I thought they scored too easy in the first half and that's not like us. In the second half we really brought out defensive effort."

Ebony Hoffman scored 16 points and Katie Douglas and Jessica Davenport each had 13 for the Fever (14-7), who have won five of six to move into sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference.

Tamika Catchings, who had scored at least 20 points in four straight games, finished with 11 points, six rebounds and six assists for Indiana. She said the defense, which forced 14 turnovers in the second half, created offense as the Fever outscored Los Angeles 21-9 in the third quarter.

"We came out in the third quarter and really put our foot down," Catchings said. "Offensively, we got a lot of open looks."

Hoffman made 7 of 16 shots and had eight rebounds.

"My confidence is at a season high," she said. "My teammates have really helped me with that. They continue to just let me shoot the ball, be in a good spot, giving me the ball in places where I can be successful."

Tina Thompson scored 19 points for Los Angeles (6-16), which dropped to 1-10 on the road. No other Sparks player scored in double figures.

Los Angeles' loss clinched a playoff berth for league-best Seattle (19-2).

Indiana held Los Angeles scoreless for the first 4 minutes of the second half and forced six turnovers during that stretch, but the Fever only scored five points during that time and temporarily left the Sparks in the game.

Indiana went on an 8-0 run that included 3-pointers by Hoffman and Douglas to take a 51-45 lead with 2:30 left in the third quarter.

Indiana led 56-45 at the end of the third quarter, holding the Sparks to 3-for-12 shooting and a season low-tying nine points in the period.

Los Angeles didn't score again until 6:22 remained in the fourth quarter and didn't make another field goal until the 3:46 mark. During one stretch, the Fever held the Sparks scoreless for more than 11 minutes in the second half while the Sparks missed 13 consecutive field goals.

"We didn't make our shots," Los Angeles coach Jennifer Gillom said. "They went on a run. Their defense got us. They came out aggressive in the second half."

Indiana fell behind 15-6 but closed the first quarter with a 16-6 run to lead 22-21 at the end of the period. Los Angeles trailed despite shooting 56 percent in the first quarter.

Hoffman made a layup, then got a steal under the basket and quickly made another layup to give Indiana a 35-34 lead late in the second quarter, but a reverse layup by Ticha Penicheiro gave the Sparks the halftime lead.

The Fever tried not to overlook the Sparks with a matchup at second-place Washington coming up on Saturday.

"This is huge for us," Catchings said. "When you look at a team like L.A., they have really good players on that team. For us, the big thing was, we had to come out and forget about their record and just play. They're the type of team that they stick around, they stick around, they stick around and then, bam, they're ahead. Throughout the game you saw that."