Fever hold off Sky, 77-70
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The Indiana Fever had to have thoughts of the Chicago's historic comeback win four days ago in Atlanta.
But, unlike Tuesday night, Indiana fended off the late-charging Sky and held on to beat Chicago 77-70 on Saturday night in the opener of the Eastern Conference finals.
Indiana took a 60-48 lead into the fourth quarter, but the Sky stormed back with a 14-3 run to open the final period.
''We need a basket,'' Shevonte Zellous said. ''Whether it was someone penetrating or a two-point jump shot, we just needed a basket at a crucial time because Chicago had cut the lead to one.''
It was a pair of 3-points that Zellous hit that give the Fever a 69-63 lead late in the fourth quarter. Indiana's separation on the scoreboard came when Chicago missed six straight shots following the fourth quarter surge. The Fever then made five trips to the free-throw line during the final 33 seconds, making 8 of 10 free throws.
Indiana shot nearly 43 percent from 3, while Chicago struggled making just 1 of 8.
''The difference in the game was we got 3-point shooting tonight,'' Fever coach Lin Dunn said. ''I though (Briann) January and Zellous and Maggie Lucas stepped up in crunch time, hit some really big 3's for us.''
January scored 19 points and Zellous added 18 for the Fever on a night when Tamika Catchings struggled to find a shooting rhythm for the Fever.
''It is not an individual sport, it is a team sport,'' Zellous said. ''When (Catchings) was struggling, everybody played their part. The bench played really well tonight and that was one of our keys.''
Catchings did finish with 10 points, six of which came from the free-throw line. Lucas led Indiana's reserves with eight points, including five straight on back-to-back possessions late in the third quarter.
Sylvia Fowles and Allie Quigley led Chicago's comeback effort with each scoring five points in the late game run. Fowles led the Sky with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Elena Delle Donne and Quigley added 14 apiece.
''I think we showed a lot of fight,'' Delle Donne said. ''Indy was able to make some really clutch shots at the end.''
Indiana trailed Chicago only in the first two minutes of the game.
Game 2 will be in Chicago on Monday.
''I know going to Chicago is going to be even tougher,'' January said. ''They're going to make adjustments and they play really well on their home court. We have to make our adjustments and come prepared. It is going to take everything we have to close it out in Chicago.''