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Liberty-Shock Preview

AP - Sports

The New York Liberty missed an opportunity to wrap up a playoff berth earlier this week, but they can secure one by extending their recent success against the Tulsa Shock.

While the Shock won't make the postseason, they have been playing relatively well of late and could make it difficult for the Liberty to celebrate another trip to the playoffs Thursday night.

New York (14-18) is one game ahead of Chicago for fourth place in the Eastern Conference and could have clinched the spot with a win Tuesday, as the Sky lost to Seattle.

The Liberty, though, were outscored 22-9 in the fourth quarter of a 77-66 defeat to San Antonio. Cappie Pondexter had 23 points but her team had a three-game winning streak snapped.

"They were hitting shots and clicking on all cylinders," forward-center Kara Braxton said. "We really could not contain the ball or stop them."

New York, 5-2 this month, will try for a better performance in the opener of a home-and-home series with Tulsa (8-23). A win or a Chicago loss to Atlanta on Thursday would give the Liberty a third consecutive playoff berth.

New York holds the tiebreaker over Chicago after securing a better record in conference play.

The Liberty will try to secure a postseason berth without the Dream's help as they seek a fifth consecutive victory over the Shock.

Despite its poor record, Tulsa has clinched its best record in three seasons by splitting its past 10 games. The Shock are also on the verge of their first three-game win streak since moving from Detroit after the 2009 season, having defeated San Antonio 80-70 on the road Sunday.

Temeka Johnson led the way with 18 points and made all three of her 3-point shots as Tulsa was 12 of 19 from beyond the arc.

"We executed really well down the stretch," coach Gary Kloppenburg said. "We had a couple of big shots go in (and) we got stops down the stretch when we needed them."

Tulsa shot 5 of 25 from 3-point range and made 33.9 percent overall in an 88-57 rout by New York in the last meeting July 17, 2011.

Pondexter has averaged 24.0 points in the last five games after a two-game stretch in which she totaled 26.

These teams meet again Saturday at the Prudential Center.

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