Shock avenge opening loss, rout Sparks

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Not many teams can pull off an upset on the same night they raise a championship banner.

That is what the Detroit Shock managed Monday.

Detroit was missing three of its top four post players and was just two days removed from a 20-point loss in Los Angeles, but the Shock bounced back to rout the Sparks 81-52.

"The differences in this game were energy and pride," Detroit coach Bill Laimbeer said. "I felt like we had something to prove tonight, and we did that."

Los Angeles had won 78-58 on Saturday at the Staples Center but trailed by as many as 28 points in the first half of the rematch.

"They did a great job," Lisa Leslie said. "They outplayed us for the entire game."

The Shock received their championship rings before the game and raised the third banner in franchise history.

"I think we all got a lot of energy from the ring ceremony," said Deanna Nolan, who led Detroit with 27 points. "We were angry after the way we played out there, and we fixed a lot of those things tonight."

Three key players were in street clothes for the ceremony: Cheryl Ford (knee), Plenette Pierson (shoulder) and Kara Braxton (suspension). Detroit signed second-round pick Britany Miller as an emergency roster replacement so that it could dress the league-minimum nine players.

Braxton's suspension was announced the day before the opener, and Pierson was injured in the first quarter of Saturday's game.

"We'd gone through the exhibition games with Plenette and Kara, and then we suddenly had a different roster," said Katie Smith, who had 17 points. "When we watched the film, we realized how passive we played. Tonight, we didn't do that."

Yinka Sanni added 12 points for Detroit, which outshot Los Angeles 47 percent to 29 percent.

"We always play well defensively, but we were especially good tonight," Laimbeer said. "Our plan was to double-team their post players, and we did a great job of trapping them. We've got big guards, and we were able to play physically."

Tina Thompson had 14 points and 11 rebounds for Los Angeles, but the Sparks weren't able to take advantage of the Shock's lack of post players.

"We were rushing a lot of our offense, and when you do that, it forces you to take bad shots," coach Michael Cooper said. "When they don't go in, it lets the other team get out and go."