Welcome to the sixth season of the Detroit Shock, and Tom's sixth year of creating web pages to promote this fantastic sport and this fantastic organization.
Game 1: Our first trip to Detroit this year was on July 18th. At this time last year Detroit was solidly in last place. What a difference a year makes. Kaitlin, Alex, Kathy, and I traveled to The Palace of Auburn Hills to watch the Eastern Conference first place 10-5 Detroit Shock take on the Western Conference second place 11-6 Seattle Storm. We got to the Palace one hour before game time and were fortunate enough to be one of the first 2,500 to get a Swin Cash bobblehead doll. Then we sat down and watched one heck of a game.
"Swin Cash bobble head"
Here's the official breakdown: AUBURN HILLS, Mich., July 18 (Ticker) -- Elaine Powell scored a season-high 16 points to lead a balanced attack as the Detroit Shock defeated the Seattle Storm, 74-61. Powell was one of four Shock players in double figures. Swin Cash added 15 points, Deanna Nolan 12 and Kedra Holland-Corn 11 off the bench.
"Swin Cash and Sue Bird are friends and rivals"
Ruth Riley's jumper with 2:34 left in the first half gave Detroit the lead for good at 30-29. The Shock led 34-31 at halftime and improved to 7-1 when leading at the break. Detroit broke open a close game with a 13-3 run that made it 53-41 with nine minutes remaining. Nolan started the run with a layup and scored five points in the surge. Lauren Jackson scored 23 points and Sue Bird added 14 for the Storm.
"Elaine Powell earned Player of the Game honors"
It was nice to see Sandy Brondello again. Too bad she was wearing a Storm jersy. She looked great as usual and you can tell she is one of the leaders of the Storm. Probably the only negative was the fact that Sue Bird hurt her knee with about 12 minutes left in the game and was not able to finish. That said, we all had a GREAT TIME.
"Sue Bird had 14 before going out with an injury"
For the second year in a row Lauren Jackson showed me why many consider her to be the greatest woman basketball player on the planet. Include me in that list because in my opinion she is the total package. She can play inside or out on both ends. She can dribble. She can shoot long range. She can score with her back to the basket. She's a great passer. She can defend anyone in the league. She can run the floor. She blocks shots. All this from someone who is 6'5" and 187 pounds.
But Lauren wasn't enough to stop the Shock who continue to roll along in first place. Could this be "THE YEAR"? I get excited just thinking about it. After a 60 minute stop for mexican dinner on the way home we finally rolled into the driveway at 1:30 AM. Tired? YES! Glad we went? HECK YES!!
Game 2: Wellllllllll? This year I choked. I watched the Shock win Game 2 of the WNBA finals on Sunday evening. Right away I got online at Tickemaster and went to book some tickets to Game 3. But that's when I choked big time. Kathy was in Philadelphia for work so it was just Alex and I. I asked Alex if he wanted to go. I got the usual "let me check with Erica" answer. He wasn't able to reach Erica so instead of buying tickets I "waited". It wasn't until Monday around 4 PM that I found out Erica worked Tuesday night and by then there were no more lower section seats available. So after 6 years of making the long drive to Detroit as a dedicated fan of my Detroit Shock, I was reduced to watching them win Game 3 and their first WNBA championship on TV. Log this as one of my all time stupid moves. As my homey B-rad would say, "dAAAAAAAng!!". That said, at least I was able to watch the game on TV. Here's some pictures and a lowdown of this once in a lifetime event:
The Detroit Shock won the WNBA Finals, defeating the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Sparks, 83-78, as Riley dominated the decisive third game.
Riley scored a career-high 27 points on 11-for-19 shooting and won the showdown of All-Star centers as she thoroughly outplayed Leslie, who managed 13 points on 5-for-19 shooting before fouling out in the final minute.
"My best game ever, to be honest with you," Riley said. "I was able to come out and play the best basketball, at this point, that I'm able to play."
"It may have been her best offensive game of the season," Shock coach Bill Laimbeer said.
The Shock became the first team in American pro sports to go from having the worst record in the league to champions the following season.
"He gave us the wisdom that he had as a player, that we just have a lot of heart, we love to play together," Riley said. "We played so well and we just played hard."
"We have great leadership, great internal leadership, and our players, if you get to know them, they are outstanding people, and that's what makes great champions," Laimbeer added.
Never in the seven-year history of the WNBA has a team won the clincher on the road.
"I always thought we would 'three-peat.' I thought we would win it on the road," Leslie said. "That's the way I feel, that's the way my teammates feel. It's kind of like, wow, it wasn't our team, it wasn't our year."
Leslie made 1-for-2 free throws to provide a 73-70 lead, but the Sparks went scoreless for more than three minutes. Riley made a short jumper, then harassed Leslie into a miss at the other end with 1:10 left.
After Deanna Nolan's three-pointer gave Detroit the lead for good, Leslie missed a short banker and fouled out chasing the rebound.
"It was very difficult to watch the last minute or two from the bench," Leslie said.
That began a parade to the line by the Shock as rookie Cheryl Ford and Nolan each made 4-for-4 free throws to hold off a last-gasp effort by the Sparks.
Nolan scored 17 points, Swin Cash added 13, 12 rebounds and nine assists and Ford had 10 and 12 boards for the Shock, who won the last two games at home after dropping the opener in L.A.
"It won't be long before the L.A. Sparks are champions again," coach Michael Cooper promised.
Detroit regrouped for a 42-37 halftime lead and widened it to 56-45 on a tournaround jumper by Riley with 15:11 to play. Mabika fueled a rally, and a jumper by Milton gave LA a 70-68 lead with 5:07 remaining. Riley's jumper tied it before Mabika scored inside.