WNBA

Liberty-Fever Preview

The New York Liberty are off to their best start since 2001 while also riding their longest winning streak in five years, with Tina Charles responsible for most of that success.

The 2012 WNBA MVP is putting up numbers that could see her add another trophy to her collection, and she'll look to help the Liberty stay hot Wednesday night against the Indiana Fever.

New York (12-5) went into the All-Star break on a five-game win streak and in sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference following a 59-53 victory at Los Angeles last Wednesday.

The Liberty, who haven't won six straight since a franchise-record 10-game run in 2010, were led by Charles' 14 points and 14 rebounds before she headed to Connecticut for the All-Star Game.

Charles started at center for the East and had 13 points and four boards in 14 minutes Saturday.

That performance came after she averaged 19.6 points and 10.2 rebounds during the win streak. Charles is fourth in the league in scoring (17.2) and rebounding (9.3) for New York, which has won eight of nine after sitting at .500 in late June.

"We have to stay confident and take care of ourselves," Charles said about opening the second half. "... We just have to stay focused and locked in."

Guard Epiphanny Prince has also been instrumental to the surge, averaging 12.7 points in seven games since making her team debut July 9.

"We just want to get better as a team," Prince said. "We want to focus on ourselves. We're playing pretty good basketball right now but we know we can always do better."

Indiana (9-8) played for the first time since the break Tuesday and avoided a third straight loss with a 75-73 overtime win at Connecticut.

All-Star Tamika Catchings hit a fadeaway jump shot with 6 seconds left in the extra session after passing Diana Taurasi as the No. 2 scorer in WNBA history earlier in the game.

"Records are meant to be broken, that's why they're there," Catchings told the Fever's official website. "But it's pretty cool for now. It's kind of overwhelming."

Catchings had 15 points, eight rebounds and five steals, while Shavonte Zellous scored a season-high 19 off the bench.

The Fever are in fourth place in the conference but trail New York by just three games and are returning home, where they've won four in a row.

"(East) teams are always clustered," Catchings said. "You can go from being fourth to first to sixth."

New York beat the visiting Fever 86-79 behind Charles' 21 points June 9 before Indiana returned to Madison Square Garden 10 days later and posted an 80-63 win. Catchings went 0 for 10 from the field and Charles shot 3 for 13.

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