TULSA, OK—The Tulsa Shock closed out the last big home stand of the 2014 season with games against the Atlanta Dream last Thursday night and the Minnesota Lynx on Saturday night.
The Shock needed wins if they had any prayer of trying to back end into the post season and every point they get is basically sacred, but unfortunately two of the best teams in the WNBA denied them the victories as both Atlanta and Minnesota hung nearly identical losses on them, with the Dream on Thursday night posting a 85-75 defeat and Maya Moore and the Lynx handing the Shock an 84-75 loss.
On Thursday night against Atlanta, Odyssey Sims had her third straight game with more than 20 points, and Glory Johnson came within one rebound of her 16th double-double, but a few key stops on the part of the Atlanta Dream helped lift the visitors over the Tulsa Shock in the dying minutes of the fourth quarter.
For three quarters on the game, the Shock ran nearly even with the Dream, through three quarters the deficit was five points or less until the fourth quarter, when the Dream clamped down on their defense and made the changes they needed to pull ahead in the game.
Sims, Johnson (14) and Skylar Diggins (14) all scored in the double digits and the Shock really made an impact with their defense and transition game. A fact not lost on Shock head coach Fred Williams.
“The defense stepped it up.” Coach Williams said after the game. “We were able to push it in transition and get some run outs. We wanted to make the game more up tempo, which we did in the first half and some in the third quarter.?”
For Atlanta, Tiffany Hayes led the Dream with a career-high 27 points, shooting 9-for-12 from the field. Erika DeSouza earned her seventh double-double of the season with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Celine Dumerc recorded eight assists for the second game in a row, which is her season-high. Atlanta went on a 9-0 run in the fourth quarter to take a 74-67 lead and kept it the remainder of the game.
On Saturday the Shock hosted the Minnesota Lynx and one of the best professional female basketball players in the WNBA, Maya Moore. Moore was far and away the story of the game as she scored 40 points, the the most a player has scored against the Shock this year. In three previous outing against Tulsa Moore has scored 38, 33 and 32 points. In doing so she broke a six year old record held by Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi by posting her 11th 30+ point performance in a season.
The Shock got off to an abysmal start in the game against the Lynx, with the visitors posting 10 points before Tulsa ever got on the board. It was several minutes before they even had a double-digit total on the board, but by the time the first quarter was over, they had narrowed the Minnesota lead to six at 16-10. With all the firepower Minnesota had on the floor, the Shock remained very close to the Lynx for the balance of the game. The Shock turned in 22 points in the second frame and nearly had the lead going into the half if not for a late three pointer by the Lynx right before the buzzer.
The second half is typically what Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve calls “Maya time” and Maya Moore didn’t disappoint. She had 15 of her 40 points in the third quarter, sinking nine shots in a row along the way. Tulsa would tie the game at 69 with 5:25 to go in the fourth quarter, but shortly after Tiffany Jackson-Jones tied the game for the home team, Moore sank the three-pointer that put Minnesota ahead for good. By the numbers, Odyssey Sims led the Shock with 25 points, going nine for 21 from the field and dropping in four three pointers. Glory Johnson turned in her 16th double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Skylar Diggins put in a 15-point performance to close out the three Shock players in double figures.
Saturday’s loss dealt the Shock a blow when it comes to the possibility of making the WNBA playoffs for the first time since moving from Detroit five years ago. There is one more home game on the Shock’s schedule, next Friday night against San Antonio, bookended by trips to LA and Seattle, and then they finish the season on the road with Atlanta and Minnesota.
They are chasing Los Angeles for the fourth and final playoff spot in the WNBA Western Conference, and with five games left on their schedule and four of those on the road it will be a very difficult task indeed.
Tickets for the final Tulsa Shock home game next Friday night are on sale at the BOK Center box office and at wnba.com/Shock.