INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Tamika Catchings didn’t get much sleep after her Indiana Fever lost Game 2 of the WNBA Finals to Minnesota.
It wasn’t just because of the foul trouble that saddled her all game. It was the lack of execution she and her teammates had down the stretch in Minnesota’s 77-71 win.
”We weren’t focused enough in the final few minutes and that’s what cost us,” Catchings said at practice on Thursday. ”The turnovers, the offensive rebounds, we just didn’t do what we needed to do to win that game.”
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Indiana will try for a better finish when the Fever return home for Game 3 on Friday night. They expect to play better in front of their fans. Game 4 is also in Indiana on Sunday night.
”It’s going to be a great atmosphere,” Catchings said. ”We always have great fans.”
The winner of Game 3 has gone on to win the championship 70 percent of the time since the series went to a best-of-five format in 2005.
Catchings hopes to be on the court for more than the 24 minutes she played in Game 3 because of foul trouble. She won’t change the way she plays.
”I’ve got to play the game the way I know how,” she said. ”I only know how to play one way. Sometimes you’ve just got to play through a lot of different situations and throughout my career that’s one thing that I’ve done.”
Her former teammate and rookie head coach Stephanie White stood up for Catchings after the six-point loss Tuesday night saying how her star was being disrespected by the officials.
Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve had made similar comments chiding officials between Games 1 and 2 for allowing Indiana defenders to get physical with Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen.
Neither coach was fined by the WNBA, but both received phone calls from league officials about their comments.
”They said just don’t do it again,” White said. ”I think the biggest message is just to keep it quiet, but I couldn’t keep it quiet at that point.”
White said that she told her players when they got back to Indiana to, ”Leave your baggage at baggage claim and let’s focus on what we do.”
The series now boils down to a best-of-three with the Fever holding home-court advantage. In the first two rounds of the playoffs, the third-seeded team from the East came home facing elimination games.
”We have to have the same mentality as we had before,” Catchings said. ”Obviously if we lose we’re not done, but we have to come with the same effort and focus.”
Reeve said that while Indiana may have the advantage playing the next two games at home, her team has been successful on the road this season. The Lynx were one of three teams in the league to have winning records on the road this year.
”We are comfortable playing on the road as we’ve shown this season,” Reeve said.
GETTING COMFY: Sylvia Fowles came to Minnesota to win a championship. She’s a big reason why the Lynx evened the series, putting up 21 points in the win.
”It’s a big reason why I came here, to get a title,” Fowles said. ”It took a little while to get used to playing here, but now I feel I can be a bigger presence.”
Fowles had a laugh when she walked onto the Fever practice court. All of the names and numbers of the Lynx players were up on the wall marquee. The only problem was that 6-foot-5 center’s name was missing the `l’.
2012 REWIND: These two teams played in the finals in 2012, which Indiana won for its lone title. The Fever took the first game that year and then Minnesota won the second one. Game 3 was a rout with Indiana jumping out to an 18-point halftime lead and led by 32 heading into the fourth quarter before the Lynx outscored them by 15 points to make it a little more respectable.
GETTING FIT: The WNBA held a clinic for 90 kids with Fever players after practice. Catchings was at the defense station showing the youngsters the proper stance and getting them to yell defense. The five-time defensive player of the year had the kids show their best ”mean” face as they were working on their defense.
RECORD RATINGS: Game 1 was the most watched opening contest of the league championship series since 1998. Viewership was up 2 percent from last year.
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