Katie Douglas understandably showed some rust in her first game back after missing 30 due to injury, but she’ll get another chance to find her groove before the Indiana Fever begin their title defense in the playoffs.
Indiana looks to secure the Eastern Conference’s third seed as it visits the last-place Connecticut Sun in the regular-season finale Sunday.
The defending WNBA champion Fever (16-17) had been without Douglas since she scored 17 points in a loss to Atlanta on May 31. The 13-year veteran had been recovering from a bulging disc in her back, but she returned for Friday’s 66-63 victory over New York.
“It was definitely one of the toughest and trying times of my career,” Douglas said. “It was a long process, but I’m happy to finally put that behind me and be back on the court.”
Douglas scored 11 points but shot 3 of 13 - including 1 of 8 from 3-point range - in 29 minutes.
“I expect her instead of shooting 3 for 13 to shoot about 9 for 13,” coach Lin Dunn said. “But I thought she played well.”
Douglas admitted to feeling rusty, but the four-time All-Star and Dunn said she’ll see more minutes in this contest in preparation for the playoffs.
“Obviously, there’s going to be some timing, some rhythm for me,” Douglas said. “I’m just happy that I was able to get out there and compete.”
Indiana was able to secure its ninth consecutive postseason appearance while Douglas was sidelined as Tamika Catchings led the way. Last season’s WNBA finals MVP scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds Friday.
The Fever are tied with Washington for the conference’s third seed, with the Mystics facing New York on Sunday. If Indiana wins, it will face No. 2 seed Atlanta in a rematch of last season’s conference semifinals because it holds the tiebreaker with Washington. However, a loss along with a Mystics victory would set up a first-round matchup with first-place Chicago.
Connecticut fell to the Fever in three games in last year’s East finals, but after winning 25 games to take the regular-season conference title in 2012, it will be looking to avoid a 25th defeat Sunday.
The Sun (9-24) hold the league’s worst record and had only seven players available due to injury in Friday’s 82-56 loss to Washington.
Tina Charles, last season’s league MVP, hasn’t played since Aug. 31 and was shut down Sept. 6 to rest various injuries. Kara Lawson has been out since July 19 with a knee injury, and guard Tan White missed the last contest with a broken finger on her non-shooting hand.
“I think having seven bodies has a lot to do with why we weren’t able to overcome (Washington) in the fourth quarter,” coach Anne Donovan said. “We stayed with them until early in the fourth quarter and then it got away from us. That’s where fatigue sets in and clearly that was the difference.”
Connecticut beat Indiana 73-61 on June 12 and 70-64 on Aug. 1, but the Fever earned a 78-66 win July 6 and a 69-60 victory in the last meeting Sept. 7.