AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — After three WNBA titles in six years, the Detroit Shock entered this season thinking they were contenders for a fourth straight Eastern Conference title.
After Wednesday’s 98-95 overtime loss to the Atlanta Dream, the injury-riddled Shock have reached the All-Star break with a 5-9 record and a season on the verge of being lost.
"This isn’t acceptable," said Rick Mahorn, who replaced Bill Laimbeer as coach early in the season. "We’re going to take a hard look at our roster over the break and see what kind of adjustments we need to make to make this into a winning team."
With Detroit struggling for depth, Atlanta had all they needed and more. Ivory Latta scored 22 points off the bench and fellow reserves Angel McCoughtry and Michelle Snow combined for 36 more.
"We knew we had to play defense and keep them from doing the things they had been doing," said Latta, who started her career with Detroit.
"When we play great defense, it leads to great offense."
Latta, Snow and McCoughtry outscored the Atlanta starters 25-21 in the second half and overtime.
"Our bench has been really good all year long — even in training camp the bench was beating the first team," Atlanta coach Marynell Meadors said. "They came in today and played together, and I think it was their defense that created opportunities."
Snow appeared to win the game with a hook shot at end of regulation.
The shot was originally ruled good, but a video review showed it came just after the buzzer.
Chamique Holdsclaw’s 3-pointer gave the Dream a 95-91 lead with 1:44 left in overtime, and after a Kara Braxton basket, Nolan missed a go-ahead 3-pointer with 16 seconds left.
Braxton finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds as Detroit lost in overtime for the third time in six games.
"We were hungrier," McCoughtry said. "I didn’t see the fight on their faces as much as ours."
The Shock can only hope the All-Star break gives them time to heal. Plenette Pierson is out for the year with a shoulder injury sustained in the opener, and Cheryl Ford missed her second straight game with a knee injury. Deanna Nolan did play despite knee, hamstring and shoulder problems, but missed her last 13 shots in a 3-for-20 performance.
"I’ve never been hurt like this in my life," she said. "I’ve got to keep playing, but it’s tough when you have this many injuries."