Smith, Nolan help Shock hold off MercurySep 12, 2007 - 6:43 AM PHOENIX (Ticker) -- Katie Smith scored 20 points, including four 3-pointers as the Detroit Shock held off the Phoenix Mercury, 88-83, in Game Three of the WNBA Finals on Tuesday.
Deanna Nolan had 20 points, grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds and handed out six assists for Detroit, which takes a two games to one lead in the best of five series.
Game Four is Thursday in Phoenix.
We knew yesterday, especially, and this morning that we were going to play a good game," Mercury coach Bill Laimbeer said.
"We saw the focus in our players. We saw the Shock focus on how we do business. It was easy to write off the last game after we played it because we know we didn't show. Tonight we were going to play solid defense, get dirty and be right in the face all night."
The Shock led by six points entering the fourth quarter before holding a off a furious rally by the Mercury, who cut their deficit to 79-77 on two free throws by Kelly Miller with 2:15 remaining.
However, Smith, who connected on 8-of-15 from the floor, found Nolan in the right corner for a deep 3-pointer that increased Detroit's advantage to 82-77 with 1:53 left.
"I think our patience on offense really set our tone on defense and then people individually locked into whet we needed to do," Smith said. "We had a lot of open looks. You're going to get in a zone for the most part. We were able to knock them down during that spell and we were able to score some points."
After Cappie Pondexter split a pair of free throws with 29 seconds remaining to cut the Shock's lead to 82-79, she missed a shot from the arc with 21 ticks on the clock. It was the 11th consecutive miss by the Mercury, who misfired on their last 13 shots of the contest.
"We had some misfortune. We had some good looks and just missed baskets," Mercury coach Paul Westhead said. "We're a shooting team so if you don't make shots, shots that we normally make, it is going to be tough on you."
Smith was fouled and made both of her shots from the charity stripe to make it 84-79 with 20 seconds remaining. After Tangela Smith and Miller each made one of two free throws to again cut Phoenix's deficit to three, Cheryl Ford stole a pass from Tangela Smith off an offensive rebound.
Nolan was fouled with eight seconds left, making both free throws to push the lead to 86-81.
Miller made two more from the free throw line to get the Mercury within one possession of a potential tie, but Nolan nailed two more foul shots with 4.2 seconds left to seal the victory. Nolan and Smith combined to make 6-of-6 free throws in the last 20 seconds.
"We missed shots," Taurasi said. "When you get down to the last two, three minutes it's usually the teams that makes plays, makes shots. They did and we didn't, simple as that. They won the game we lost it."
Penny Taylor had 16 points and career-high 14 rebounds and Pondexter added 13 points for the Mercury, who shot just 35 percent (25-of-72) after connecting on 42 percent or better in the first two games of this series.
Reserves Plenette Pierson and Shannon Johnson scored 12 and 11 points respectively for Detroit, which shot 44 percent (34-of-78) and won its first road game of the playoffs. Diana Taurasi scored 22 points and Tangela Smith had 17 points and 12 rebounds for Phoenix, which suffered its first home playoff loss in 2007.
"We need to stay patient like tonight and move the ball around, knock down open shots and get the ball inside which will create open shots," Nolan said. "It is going to be tough because it is an elimination game for them but we are looking forward to it."
PHOENIX 83 FINAL
Sep 11 11:24 PM
PHOENIX 64 END, 3RD QTR
Sep 11 10:38 PM
PHOENIX 45 HALFTIME
Sep 11 9:58 PM
PHOENIX 23 END, 1ST QTR
Sep 11 9:32 PM
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