Saturday, May 24, 2008
Betty Lennox high-fives her teammates and a surprised mascot in the Dream home opener.
At first glance, the score might indicate, "standard veteran victory over a first-year expansion club"...until you realize that the score was tied up 65-65 in the fourth quarter.
I was forced to watch the game on CSS. My wife and I were out eating at the local Taco Max, which has about 120 televisions tuned to various sporting events. We asked that one of these screens be turned to the Dream/Shock home opener, and I might just as well have asked for a repeal of the second law of thermodynamics. Somehow, their supersatellite system couldn't find a WNBA game. I honestly suspect that the manager thought "who's going to watch a WNBA game when they can see Barry Zito take an 0-8 (or is it 0-9) record against the Marlins at a stadium which was apparently sold out by invisible patrons?"
Therefore, I was forced to start watching in mid-first quarter. At home, I would at least get a great seat, with Teresa Edwards providing crystal-clear commentary, providing the kind of insight I wished I could hear from NBA announcers.
1) Detroit came out like any Bill Laimbeer team, determined to physically punish the opposition. In particular, they came out to punish two ex-Shock players now on the Atlanta roster, Ivory Latta and Katie Feenstra. Feenstra would pick up two fouls early. Latta, however, remained unintimidated, pulling some Allan Iverson type moves, weaving through the crowd of defenders like a rabbit weaves through the underbrush. The problem was, Latta couldn't hit anything. She went 1 for 11 on the night.
2) In the second quarter, the Shock went cold. Futhermore, Feenstra took the bench and was replaced by Erika DeSouza, who had just gotten off the plane from Brazil on Monday. DeSouza immediately proceeded to dominate the boards, picking up some ridiculous number of rebounds, like 11 in 10 minutes. Betty Lennox was on her way to 17 first half points, DeSouza was picking up the ball and Detroit scored only 11 in the second quarter. At one time, the Dream held an 18 point lead, but the Shock whittled that lead down to 13 as Atlanta began to pressure their shots.
3) Laimbeer told the Shock that this was a nationally televised game and if they wanted to win it, they'd have to play defense. It seems that at this part of the game, Atlanta forgot the meaning of defense, and guards Deanna Nolan and Alexis Hornbuckle took over. There were many times when Nolan and Hornbuckle went unguarded at the 3-point line, and as Atlanta's defense collapsed towards the basket, the Shock made several easy shots. The Shock racked up 31 points in the third quarter, and the game was now tied at 63-63.
4) More of the same. At one point, the game was 65-65, but that didn't last. At one point, the Shock had a 72-70 lead....then scored 13 unanswered points over 3 1/2 minutes of play.
The Dream had a miserable 21 percent shooting percentage from the field in the second half. Betty Lennox, who scored 17 in the first half, only scored seven points in the second. The Shock would win by 12 at the end, joking at the bench and looking pretty much in command.
1) Most of Lennox's points were from free throws -- 9 of 12. Detroit is a team that doesn't mind giving up foul shots, because they're confident they can win. Lennox won't get those foul shots against more careful teams.
2) Ivory Latta in 2007: 3.0 PPG, 7.1 MPG. Ivory Latta in 2008: 5.0 PPG, 20.0 MPG.
3) Deanna Nolan racked up 33 points against the Dream. If she hadn't hurt her arm in the fourth quarter, it might have been worse.
4) The Dream were forcing shots in the third and fourth quarters. An ugly statistic was that the Dream had seven assists in the entire game compared to the Shock's 18.
5) Erika DeSouza was just fantastic. She was clearly the MVP on the court last night.
6) One more night of sub-40 percent shooting from the field.
7) The Dream looked good in the first half, and horrible in the second. On Sunday, they get to play the Sparks. Well, all I can say is at least they're getting the tough games out of the way. I really wished the Dream could have won, though.
8) According to a commenter on the AJC, the Dream cheerleaders weren't allowed to use the air cannon to fling T-shirts into the stands. Why? Because they kept pointing it at Laimbeer and Mahorn on the Shock bench.