Silver Stars must even finals before series shifts to Detroit

SAN ANTONIO -- Not surprisingly, the Shock and the Silver Stars said the same thing on Thursday: Game 1 -- a 77-69 Detroit victory -- doesn't mean anything.

They said this for different reasons, of course. For Friday's Game 2 (ESPN2, 7:30 p.m. ET), Detroit wants to stay as hungry a team as it has been. The Shock players remember all too well last season's win in the first game of the WNBA Finals … but Phoenix ended up with the trophy in a five-game series.

San Antonio wants to put the first game out of mind because it was such a frustrating and uncharacteristic performance for the first three quarters. The Silver Stars made a big rally and tied the score in the fourth quarter, but it took that long for the team to really play with the confident enthusiasm that has been their trademark since guard Becky Hammon came here.

"We didn't play how we wanted to play," Hammon said. "We want them to have to beat us being the real us, not our 'C' game or our 'B' game. If we walk off the court and say, 'We played as well as we possibly could and they still beat us,' well … OK. We can live with that.

"We cannot live with walking out on this court and not being ready to play. That's what drove me bonkers more than anything last night. In this situation, you have to compete. Everybody knows everybody's plays. Everybody's well-scouted. We know each other. Now it has to come down to making great reads, seeing what they're giving up, being intelligent out there. Having enough energy should be the last of your concerns."

Even if the energy is there, the Silver Stars are still down in personnel at guard. Edwige Lawson-Wade and Helen Darling are both out with injuries. Darling said she felt a bit better Thursday and wasn't ruling out the possibility of playing. But if she doesn't play, San Antonio has to get more production out of a bigger lineup and finding creative ways to give Hammon more looks at the basket.

Easier said than done when Detroit has Deanna Nolan and Katie Smith, both excellent defenders at guard.

The Silver Stars need to get some kind of point production from Ruth Riley, and she has to play better defense, too. Riley can't go 16-plus minutes and not score, as was the case Wednesday.

Defensively, San Antonio let Taj McWilliams-Franklin get too many comfortable, good looks at the basket. And she burned the Silver Stars for 24 points.

It's understandable why they focused so much attention on Nolan. But they might need to loosen up a bit on her -- knowing full well what's she's capable of -- and clamp down on other aspects of Detroit's attack.

The Silver Stars have to get points in transition, too, and that will get the AT&T Center crowd into the game.

Mechelle Voepel of The Kansas City Star is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. She can be reached at mvoepel123@yahoo.com.