Fever-Sky Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated May 23, 2012

BEIJING - AUGUST 11: Tamika Catchings #10 of the United States stands for the playing of the National Anthem against China during their women's basketball preliminary game on Day 3 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the Wukesong Indoor Stadium on August 11, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
The Indiana Fever weren't completely happy with their performance to begin the season, but with veteran leadership from Tamika Catchings and Katie Douglas, they were still feeling good at the final buzzer. After nearly a week off, the Fever return to action Friday night to face the Chicago Sky, who are equally well rested for their home opener and also coming off a season-opening win. In a rematch of last season's Eastern Conference finals, Indiana defeated Atlanta 92-84 on Saturday. Catchings scored 16 points and added seven rebounds while Douglas led the team with 21 points. Catchings, the defending league MVP, was limited the final two playoff games against the Dream - both Fever losses - with a torn plantar fascia. She showed no signs of any lingering problems Saturday, though, shooting 5 of 11 and hitting two 3-pointers - putting her among the team's WNBA-record eight players to hit a shot from beyond the arc. The Fever never trailed, but they had 17 turnovers and saw a 17-point fourth-quarter lead cut to four with 35 seconds remaining. Indiana went 6 of 8 at the free-throw line after that to put the game away. "At times it was really, really pretty. At times it was really, really ugly, but we're going to learn as much as we can from it," Douglas told the team's official website. "It's more fun to learn from a win than it is from a loss." While a healthy Catchings will be key to another deep playoff run, Indiana also expects a lot from Douglas, who starred in the 2011 postseason with 19.7 points per game - up from the 13.9 she averaged during the regular season. Chicago is also looking for some improvement following a victorious opener. The Sky won 69-57 at Washington on Saturday. "We still have some wrinkles we have to straighten out, but this was a good start and definitely a test for us to see what we were made of," said Sylvia Fowles, who had 23 points and 12 rebounds. Fowles was the WNBA defensive player of the year and one of the few bright spots for a Chicago team that finished fifth in the East in 2011 and remained without a playoff appearance in franchise history. She averaged a career-high 20.0 points and 10.2 rebounds. While defense hasn't been a problem for the Sky, secondary sources of scoring have been hard to come by. Chicago ranked fifth in the conference last year with 74.2 points per game, then added Swin Cash and Ruth Riley in hopes of improving those numbers. "I'm excited about the new faces that we have on the team, but at the same time it's still Chicago, nothing has changed," said Fowles, who has spent her entire five-year career with the Sky. "Once we make it to the playoffs, that's when I'll be like it was worth it." Indiana won three of four against Chicago last season, splitting two on the road.
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