It came 10 months later than they wanted, but the Indiana Fever outgunned the Phoenix Mercury.
Fever forward Tamika Catchings drives on Mercury forward Penny Taylor in the first half. Catchings had 29 points, seven rebounds and six assists as Indiana clinched a playoff berth. – TOM STRICKLAND / Associated Press
Fever 110 Mercury 90 August 13, 2010 View
Fever at Connecticut
When: 5 p.m. Sunday
Tamika Catchings filled the box score — 29 points, seven rebounds, six assists — as the Fever set a franchise scoring record with a 110-90 victory Friday night at Conseco Fieldhouse.
The Fever (20-10) shot 57 percent, ran their winning streak to four and clinched a sixth straight berth in the WNBA playoffs. Their previous scoring record came in Sunday’s 104-82 victory at Phoenix.
The Mercury won Game 4 of the WNBA Finals at Indianapolis on Oct. 7, 2009, preventing the Fever from securing their first championship. The Mercury took Game 5 to win the series.
“They came in here and stole it from us,” Fever forward Ebony Hoffman said. “Every player who was on this team last year and was in that fight knows exactly how that feels.”
Catchings sat by the same locker Sunday as she did in that Phoenix series. That felt miserable and supplied “extra fire,” she said.
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Hoffman said the Fever want a championship because that defines legacies.
“We’re all writing our own book right now in our book of life,” she said. “What are you going to say at the end? Were you a champion, or were you just there?”
Any edginess lingering from the Finals or Sunday didn’t manifest itself in any incidents. In the previous meeting, the Mercury’s DeWanna Bonner received a concussion from one collision and the Fever’s Jessica Davenport a broken nose from another.
Many in the crowd of 10,002 — the second-largest of the season — lustily booed reigning MVP Diana Taurasi of Phoenix. Her blow to Davenport’s face caused the broken nose, and Taurasi was subsequently fined an undisclosed amount by the league.
Fever coach Lin Dunn said her team caused Taurasi to work hard for 22 points, which came on 6-of-16 shooting. Tiny guard Temeka Johnson led the Mercury (14-16) with a career-high 23 points, all in the first three quarters.
For the Fever, Katie Douglas scored 19, Tammy Sutton-Brown 15, Briann January 13 and Hoffman 10. The Fever outscored the Mercury 56-32 in points in the paint, repeatedly going inside to Sutton-Brown and Davenport (eight points).
The 31-year-old Catchings, who has averaged 23 points over the past six games, continued to make a case for her first MVP award. She scored eight points in a 10-0 spurt, increasing the Fever’s six-point lead to 102-86.
Catchings suggested the three-game losing streak preceding this winning streak “refocused” the Fever and actually helped them.
“We haven’t even reached the top of what we’re capable of, the potential of this team,” she said.
With four games left, the Fever have a 11/2-game lead over second-place New York (18-11) in the Eastern Conference. The Fever play Sunday at Connecticut and Tuesday at New York.
The Fever put playoff tickets on sale. They are available at the box office, at feverbasketball.com and Ticketmaster outlets.