Shock finally end 10-game skid

NEW YORK (AP) Fred Williams and the Tulsa Shock are smiling again.

Tulsa ended a 10-game skid, winning its first game since July 11, on Saturday when it beat the New York Liberty. Despite the recent skid, the Shock are still sitting in third place in the Western Conference and have a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since the franchise moved to Tulsa in 2010.

”Through the losses we had, we still would wake up in the morning and be in third in the division and still be in the playoff hunt,” Williams said. ”We have a chance at the postseason and that would be big for us.”

The season started out great for Tulsa with wins in eight of their first nine games. Then Skylar Diggins went down with an ACL injury and the majority owner announced the team would move to Dallas next season.

It would have been easy for the team to fall apart, but even during the losing streak they hung tough. Tulsa lost three games by three points and a few others by a couple possessions.

”We were getting closer for a lot of games, shot go either way,” Williams said. ”We had some leads and we shot ourselves out of it or didn’t close out on the defensive side.”

Against New York, Tulsa almost blew a 20-point lead, but held on for the 81-76 victory.

”Now we are about to start a winning streak,” said Tulsa guard Odyssey Sims, who had a season-best 27 points in the win. ”It starts here, and we are going to build each day and get back.”

Tulsa hopes that they have All-Star Plenette Pierson moving forward. The veteran forward injured her knee against the Liberty. She was standing in the locker room postgame, but wasn’t sure of the extent of the injury.

”When I went down I had no clue,” Pierson said. ”I’m just trying to keep smiling and stay upbeat.”

Tulsa (11-14) holds a four-game lead on fifth place San Antonio. Two more wins would guarantee the Shock their best record since moving to Oklahoma from Detroit.

STAT OF THE WEEK: With one month left in the season, Courtney Paris leads the league in rebounds with 9.9 a game. If she can hold off Tina Charles (9.1), Tulsa’s center would win the rebound crown for a third straight season. Only Charles has accomplished that feat in the league’s 19-year history, doing it from 2010-2012.

GIRL POWER: Kymora Johnson just wanted to play basketball. The 10-year-old girl was thrown into the spotlight earlier this month when her youth team from Virginia was disqualified from a basketball tournament because she played in it. Johnson’s the lone girl on the boys’ team, the Charlottesville Cavaliers. The tournament had a rule, put in place this year, that girls couldn’t play on a boys’ team because there was also a girls’ competition. Johnson had been playing with the Cavaliers for the last few years because there was no girls’ team in her area until recently.

After the Cavaliers were disqualified from the tournament in South Carolina, her teammates came to watch the semifinals in pink uniforms in a sign of support for Johnson. When the WNBA’s New York Liberty heard the story, they wanted to do something for Johnson and her teammates. So they brought the Cavaliers to Saturday night’s game.

The Liberty honored Johnson and her team during a timeout Saturday night. The young squad received a warm long ovation from the crowd. Johnson spent the second half sitting behind the Liberty bench. They also had Johnson’s team scrimmage a local team after the game against Tulsa.

GAME OF THE WEEK: Liberty at Fever, Sunday. Indiana has won two of the first three meetings between the Eastern Conference rivals and can clinch the season series with another victory. The two teams will close out the regular season with one more game in Indiana on Sept. 13.

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