Shock beat Liberty behind Nolan's 22

September 28, 2008 4:21:33 PM PDT
The Detroit Shock are still alive in the WNBA playoffs, thanks in part to a very strange vegetable salad.Detroit star Plenette Pierson surprised her coach and her teammates by returning to the floor just seven days dislocating her shoulder, and her 10 points helped the Shock stave off elimination with a 64-55 victory Sunday over the New York Liberty in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.

"You see what she gives on the floor - she scores and rebounds and gives us energy," said Detroit's Deanna Nolan, who scored 22 points. "But it also gives us an emotional lift, because we knew that on a scale from 1-to-10, her pain had to be about a 20."

Pierson, who played 24 minutes in her customary sixth-woman role, acknowledged that she was in extreme discomfort, but said she was helped by an unorthodox treatment session suggested by Detroit Pistons trainer Arnie Kander. The Shock trainer applied a poultice to Pierson's shoulder that included dehydrated turnips and cucumbers.

"I guess it is supposed to drain the blood away from the injury," Pierson said. "They suggested it, and we tried it, and I was able to be out there for my teammates."

Pierson, was the 2007 Sixth Woman of the Year and runner-up for the same award this year, said she hopes to play in Game 3 on Monday.

"It's still win or go home, and I don't want to go home yet," she said. "It hurt today, and it is going to hurt even more tomorrow, but I'm going to try."

The Shock and Liberty also went three games in the 2007 playoffs, with Detroit winning the final game in overtime.

"That was last year, and we aren't thinking about that," New York coach Pat Coyle said. "They've got a different team and so do we. We're just going to come back here and try to win."

The game was moved from the Palace of Auburn Hills to Eastern Michigan University because of a scheduling conflict. Game 3 is Monday, also in Ypsilanti.

"It was as loud in here as it is in the Palace," Detroit coach Bill Laimbeer said. "If we get more Eastern students here tomorrow, it could be crazy."

The Shock trailed by seven points going into the fourth, but outscored New York 25-9 in the final 10 minutes to give themselves a chance to advance to their third straight WNBA final.

Nolan, who had struggled through three quarters, changed her plan of attack in the final period.

"I knew I had to stop shooting jumpers, because I was getting hit every time and they weren't calling it," she said. "So I had to attack the basket."

Nolan scored seven points in the first 3:12 of the fourth, helping the Shock take a 50-49 lead, and they pulled away as New York struggled from the floor. The Liberty only hit three shots in the fourth, all 3-pointers.

"I think we showed our youth," Coyle said. "For three quarters, we played really well, but early in the fourth, we missed some shots and got rattled."

Katie Smith added 11 points for Detroit, while Taj McWillaims-Franklin had six points and 11 rebounds.

Shameka Christon led the Liberty with 16 points, the only New York player in double figures.

Both teams struggled in the first half, shooting under 35 percent, but the Liberty hit enough 3-pointers to take a 27-25 halftime lead. New York used an 8-1 run to go ahead 44-36 late in the third and was still up 46-39 going into the final quarter.

The Shock started the fourth with an 11-3 run to take a one-point lead with 6:48 to play. Detroit continued the pressure and made it 58-52 on Smith's 3-pointer with 4:22 left.

"We played Shock basketball in the fourth quarter, and we started having fun again," Laimbeer said. "We just needed to hit a few shots and get things going on defense."

It was the second time the Shock hosted New York in a postseason game away from the Palace of Auburn Hills. They lost a first-round game in 2004 to the Liberty at Joe Louis Arena.