Pondexter, Mercury force Game 5
Sep 14, 2007, 3:32 GMT
Phoenix, AZ - Cappie Pondexter poured in 26 points, including the go-ahead layup with 21.7 seconds left, and the Phoenix Mercury prevented the Detroit Shock from clinching their third consecutive WNBA title with a 77-76 win in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals.
Pondexter's lay-in concluded a back-and-forth final two minutes that kept Detroit from becoming the first team in WNBA history to clinch a championship on the road, and may have cost the Shock their center in the process.
Detroit center Cheryl Ford injured her left leg when teammate Deanna Nolan collided with her after trying in vain to block Pondexter's eventual game- winner. Ford, who missed the last 13 games of the regular season and Game 1 of the Finals with a left knee injury, fell to the court in pain, and had to be helped off. The daughter of former NBA great Karl Malone, Ford has been playing through the pain in the playoffs. She finished with 14 rebounds and five points on Thursday.
Diana Taurasi had 20 points and six rebounds for the Mercury, who will try to end the Shock's reign as WNBA champs in Detroit on Sunday afternoon. Kelly Miller added 13 points for Phoenix.
Plenette Pierson led the Shock with 23 points, and Nolan added 17 points and eight rebounds. Katie Smith, who sported a bruise over her left eye late in the game thanks to an incidental bump from Taurasi, scored 14 points for Detroit.
The Shock held a 74-70 lead late in the fourth quarter, and looked in good shape to close out the series on the road. But Miller drilled a three with 1:55 left, slicing the Detroit lead to one point.
Neither team scored again until Pondexter broke through for a layup with 42 seconds left, giving Phoenix the 75-74 lead. Nolan answered immediately for the Shock, nailing a jumper from the top of the key with 34.6 seconds left to put Detroit back on top, 76-75.
Pondexter cut back through the defense thanks to a great crossover, and another layup gave the Mercury a one-point lead with 21.7 seconds left.
Detroit had one last chance, but couldn't penetrate from the perimeter, settling for a long miss by Shannon Jones, sending the series to Game 5.
© 2007 The Sports Network