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Jessica Davenport's play in the post has keyed the Indiana Fever's surge to the top of the Eastern Conference.

They might have to rely on the 6-foot-5 center a bit more with their starting point guard out for the year.

Playing their first game since Briann January's season-ending injury, Davenport and the Fever look to win their fifth in a row Tuesday night when they host a Seattle Storm team already getting by without reigning MVP Lauren Jackson.

Indiana (7-3) has had a week off to prepare for playing without January, who injured her right knee early in the fourth quarter of a 91-86 win over Phoenix last Tuesday.

An MRI Wednesday revealed a torn ACL that will require surgery and keep January sidelined for the rest of the season. She was averaging 8.6 points and ranked eighth in the league in assists with an average of 5.0 and ninth in steals at 1.5 per game.

"It's unfortunate and we'll miss her leadership," coach Lin Dunn told the Fever's official website. "Now is the opportunity for someone else to step up, though. Now is the time for someone like Erin Phillips or Shannon Bobbitt to fill that void. We may have a point guard by committee for a while as we adjust to her loss."

While it is uncertain who will direct the offense for an Indiana team which has won four straight, there is no question who will be its go-to player in the paint.

Davenport had a career-high 25 points Tuesday on 10-of-11 shooting, missing her only shot with 26 seconds left. The fourth-year pro is averaging 16.0 points on 64.0 percent shooting in the last five games after averaging 8.2 points in her first five.

"She's a dominant force down there," Tamika Catchings said. "When you get behind her, it's hard to block her shot and it's hard to get in front of her.

"She's been so productive for us. I expect a lot more from her."

Catchings, who averages 13.9 points, and Katie Douglas, Indiana's leading scorer at 17.3 per game, combine to average 6.7 assists and could be called upon to distribute more during January's absence.

Seattle (5-3) also is dealing with a major injury, as Jackson (left hip surgery) is expected to miss 8-to-12 weeks.

The defending champions have won two of three without Jackson.

"We are a veteran team with a core group of players that were here last year when we won the championship," Swin Cash said after scoring 19 points in Sunday's 73-63 win over Washington. "We understand what it takes to get it done."

The Storm pride themselves on defense, allowing a league-low average of 68.8 points.

They shut down the Fever on June 17, limiting them to 29.1 percent shooting and 1 of 15 from 3-point range in a 68-54 win. Davenport was held to seven points on 2-of-7 shooting, while Cash led the Storm with 14.

This time, Davenport is likely to go up against Le'coe Willingham, averaging 9.0 points and 5.0 rebounds in three games starting in Jackson's place.

"I think it's given people opportunities to step up," Cash said of Jackson's injury. "The more we play collectively together and get that cohesiveness the better off we'll be."

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