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Liberty gets 73-51 win over Shock in Game 1

The New York Liberty aren't getting overconfident after their surprisingly easy win over the Detroit Shock.

Shameka Christon had 16 points and tied a franchise playoff record with 15 rebounds to lead the Liberty to a 73-51 victory over the defending champion Shock in Game 1 of their first-round Eastern Conference series Friday night.

"All we did tonight was what we were supposed to do," New York coach Pat Coyle said. "You have to protect your home floor. It is one game, and that is all it is. We will get the tape and make some adjustments. When we go out to Detroit, we will tweak some things and do what we need to."

Janel McCarville and Cathrine Kraayeveld had 13 points apiece for the Liberty, who closed the season with six wins in their last nine games to earn the East's fourth and final postseason berth. New York, which shot 40 percent from the field, had runs of 18-0 and 16-0 in the second half to pull away from the league-best Shock.

"We were just out there to play hard and focus on the things that we do really well," Christon said, "and on the little things that have made us really successful."

The series moves to the Palace of Auburn Hills for Game 2 on Sunday and Game 3, if necessary, on Tuesday night.

Deanna Nolan scored 16 points, Shannon Johnson had 11 and Ivory Latta 10 for Detroit, which lost its last four regular-season games after clinching home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. The Shock rested key players down the stretch, playing reserves in various positions.

However, coach Bill Laimbeer didn't use that layoff as an excuse for his team's poor play against the Liberty.

"I don't think it affected us at all," he said. "You can draw conclusions from that, but that's not what happened to us tonight. We didn't play basketball. We didn't want it, basically. New York definitely wanted it more than us, but we didn't want it at all. That was discouraging. ... We didn't have the desire to compete."

The Shock put together a 9-0 run to pull within 10 late in the third quarter, and Nolan's jumper 17 seconds into the fourth cut the deficit to 53-44.

McCarville _ given the league's most improved player of the year award before the game _ scored eight points in a 16-0 run that gave the Liberty a 69-44 lead with 3:12 left. Barbara Farris' jumper nearly 1 1/2 minutes later pushed New York's lead to 26, its biggest of the game.

"There were points when I looked up (at the scoreboard)," McCarville said. "I did not let it phase me because I knew we had a lot more to do and did not want to let it get away from us. We did not want them to build any momentum or go on a run."

Detroit, which shot 33 percent (21-for-63) from the field, got no closer than 20 the rest of the way.

"We deserved to lose, and there are no ifs ands or maybes about it," Laimbeer said. "We were dysfunctional out there, offensively, defensively, combinations, you name it. We just weren't better."

Kraayeveld started an 18-0 run with two free throws and capped it with a 3-pointer to give the Liberty a 45-29 lead with 4:15 to go in the third quarter. Erin Thorn, Loree Moore and Christon also had 3s during the spurt.

"Coming out in the second half, start of the third (quarter), our defensive focus wasn't there," Nolan said. "The chemistry of knowing what people like to do or finding people in their spot, just wasn't there tonight."

After Plenette Pierson made a layup 23 seconds later to end the Shock's drought, Christon hit three of four free throws and Tiffany Jackson had a layup to stretch the Liberty's lead to 50-31 with 2:58 left in the period.

New York beat Detroit in three games in the first round in 2004 when the Shock were defending their first title. However, the Liberty were seeded second and Detroit third that year.

Swin Cash's layup with 9:01 left in the third gave the Shock a 29-27 lead, their first since the opening minute of the game. The Liberty followed with their big run to regain the lead for good.

Nolan's jumper with 50 seconds left in the second quarter tied the score at 25 going into halftime.