Fuming Fever ready to crank it back up in Indy for Game 3
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Tamika Catchings was still shaking about 30 minutes after the Indiana Fever dropped a tense Game 2 of the WNBA Finals to the Minnesota Lynx.
The Fever star was limited to 24 minutes because of foul trouble, and the steam was practically spewing out of her ears as she talked about letting her team down and gearing up for Game 3 back in Indiana.
”We told our team we are going to bottle up every sense of frustration, every sense of anger, every sense of knowing what we didn’t accomplish tonight,” Catchings said after the 77-71 loss to the Lynx on Tuesday night evened the best-of-five series at one game apiece. ”Put that in a bottle and let it explode when we get back home.”
Maya Moore and the Lynx are looking to avenge their loss to the Fever in the 2012 finals, and they responded to their series-opening loss with a desperation and fire that proved just enough to avoid a daunting 0-2 deficit.
”After the horn blew, both teams were still wanting to go,” said Moore, who had 19 points, eight rebounds and five assists. ”We’re ready to go for Game 3. Wait a couple days and it’ll be a grind.”
Game 3 is Friday night.
That’s exactly what the first two games have been, and now both coaches are trying to use some gamesmanship to get any little edge that can be gained.
After their Game 1 loss, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve publicly criticized the officials for allowing Indiana’s defenders to get so physical with point guard Lindsay Whalen. Reeve wouldn’t comment on whether the criticism earned her a fine, but Fever coach Stephanie White believes the remarks did play a role in how Game 2 was called.
Catchings picked up two quick fouls and had five with more than four minutes to go in the third quarter, forcing White to put her leader on the bench for a crucial stretch. The Lynx put together a 17-5 run that turned an eight-point deficit into a four-point lead going into the final period, then outlasted Indiana in tightly played fourth quarter.
”I learned a valuable lesson today,” White said. ”I learned that it pays to go public with comments about officials. Who would have known?”
White called Game 2 ”a blood bath” and said Shenise Johnson was ”doubled over” by a hard screen set in the fourth quarter. The Fever picked up two technical fouls in the fourth quarter and turned the ball over 14 times in the second half, leaving them with the feeling that they kicked away a golden opportunity to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
”We know that we didn’t take care of business when it came down the stretch,” Catchings said.
Sylvia Fowles certainly did. The Lynx center is using her size advantage in the post to average 21.0 points and 10.0 rebounds in the first two games, giving Minnesota a formidable presence in the paint that it has never had before. The Lynx acquired the former All-Star in a midseason trade with Chicago to give them another dimension in physical series like this one and she responded with five offensive rebounds on Tuesday night.
”Sylvia Fowles has been the difference for us,” Reeve said.
Catchings didn’t want to blame the officials for her foul trouble in Game 2. Instead she looked inward, saying she couldn’t afford to put her team in that position by leaving them to fight without her. The fact that the Fever were able to keep it close the whole way even while playing long stretches with her on the bench only seemed to embolden the proud veteran.
”As a great player, you should never be sitting on the bench,” Catchings said. ”You should never put your team in a situation where they have to play without you. So I’m frustrated and you better believe I’ll be ready.”