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Nolan's 24 points lift Shock to victory over Fever

The Detroit Shock always make things hard on themselves.

Luckily for Bill Laimbeer's team, they have the talent to pull it off.

The defending WNBA champs got 24 points from Deanna Nolan and evened the Eastern Conference finals at 1-1 with a 77-63 win over the Indiana Fever on Sunday.

The Shock are 6-0 when facing elimination in the past two postseasons, and will look to make it 7-0 in the series finale at home Monday night.

"We love playing with our backs against the wall," said Nolan, who had 15 points in the second quarter. "That's when our energy gets going."

Detroit won its second-round series in three games last season, then won the last two games of the finals to beat Sacramento. This year, they lost Game 1 in New York by 20 before winning the next two games at home.

"We played all year to make sure that we'd get to play tomorrow's game at home," Laimbeer said. "This team has heart and a strong will, and they're also a pretty good basketball team. We've done what we've supposed to do _ win our home games."

Detroit had five players in double figures, including Swin Cash, who had 12 points and nine rebounds after being benched for a poor effort in Game 1.

"Swin knows that when she's not at the right mental level, I'm not going to play her, and that's what happened in Game 1," Laimbeer said. "Tonight, she set the tone with her energy and focus."

Laimbeer also benched Cash last year in the WNBA finals, and she responded that time as well.

"Some games are better than others, but my teammates were really supportive," Cash said. "They just kept telling me to be aggressive, and that's what I did."

Most importantly for Detroit, facing two must-win games in 29 hours, All-Star Cheryl Ford was only forced to play 22 minutes on a bad knee.

"That was big," Laimbeer said. "I wanted to buy her as much time for tomorrow as possible."

Anna DeForge led Indiana, scoring 13 points against her former team. Tamika Whitmore had 12, but only two in the second half, and Tamika Catchings finished with just seven.

"We knew this wasn't going to be easy," Indiana coach Brian Winters said. "They are the champions until someone beats them, and we knew they would play a much better game today than Game 1."

Indiana led 20-16 after one quarter, but had no answers for Nolan or Detroit's zone defense in the second.

Nolan hit all five of her shots in the quarter, and the Fever managed just four field goals while looking confused by the Shock's defense.

"We have to play better against the zone in Game 3," Winters said. "When we miss shots against that zone, it lets them get out and run, and when Nolan gets space, she's so fast that she's going to hurt you."

That let Detroit take a 41-32 lead into intermission despite 13 turnovers.

Cash didn't score in the first half, but had three baskets early in the third quarter as Detroit opened an 18-point lead midway through the period.

Detroit led 68-47 going into the fourth quarter, but Indiana got within 71-59 before their rally stalled.

Catchings was called for a flagrant foul for knocking down Pierson late in the third quarter.