Liberty-Shock Preview

The New York Liberty desperately need a win to lift their fading Eastern Conference playoff hopes. They'll try to earn that when they visit the last-place team in the West. The Liberty will try to collect only their second victory in seven games Sunday against the Tulsa Shock, losers in six of eight. New York's chances of making a fourth straight postseason appearance took a big hit Friday with a 73-67 loss to Indiana. The result dropped the Liberty (11-18) to 2 1/2 games behind the Fever for the final playoff spot in the East with five games remaining. New York was down 21-4 in the first quarter against Indiana before rallying to take a brief lead entering the final period. The Liberty, however, couldn't overcome the Fever's 10-0 run to start that quarter. "We keep digging ourselves these weird holes," forward/center Kelsey Bone said. "Same result in a loss, but we're fighting. We didn't just lay down. Now we've got to figure out a way to come out strong." Liberty leading scorer Cappie Pondexter is partly responsible for the team's struggles. Pondexter, scoring 17.3 points per game this season, is averaging 9.4 in her last five contests and shooting 24.2 percent (16 for 66). Pondexter, who is 17 points shy of 5,000 for her career, had seven points on 1-of-12 shooting against Indiana but made a big shot against Tulsa on May 31. Her jumper with 0.5 seconds left in overtime gave the Liberty a 78-76 win. Pondexter made six of 14 shots against the Shock and finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists. The currently injured Essence Carson had a team-best 18 and Liz Cambage led Tulsa with 22 points. Cambage averaged 22.7 points over a three-game stretch before being held to eight in a 90-88 loss to Los Angeles last Sunday. She was held out of a 74-65 defeat to San Antonio on Friday with an ankle injury and her status is unknown for this game. With Cambage and point guard Angel Goodrich (illness) out, coach Gary Kloppenburg went to a three-guard lineup that featured rookie Skylar Diggins, who made her first start since July 13. Tulsa couldn't recover after being outscored 28-13 in the second quarter and was eliminated from playoff contention. "It's been an uphill battle with this young team," Kloppenburg said. "We knew this young team was going to go through some growing pains as they learned how to win. We're going to keep battling over the next five games." The Liberty have won six of the past seven meetings with the Shock but lost 78-66 in their most recent visit to Tulsa on Sept. 20.