Comets 69, Monarchs 48
HOUSTON — Tina Thompson scored 17 points and Sheryl Swoopes added 14 as the Houston Comets held off elimination from the WNBA playoffs Sunday with a 69-48 victory over the Sacramento Monarchs.
The victory tied the series at 1-1 with the deciding game Tuesday night at Compaq Center.
The four-time WNBA champion Comets lost five of their last six regular-season games — and lost three straight for the first time in team history — and were beaten 65-59 in the playoff opener at Sacramento.
Leading 34-19 at the half, Swoopes fueled a 19-4 charge early in the period that put the game out of reach. Thompson and Swoopes, who had eight points in the second half, sat out the final 6:42 while backups finished the game.
Houston never trailed in Game 2, jumping to a 24-6 lead in the opening minutes. Janeth Arcain led the Comets' first half charge. She hit three straight baskets and Ukari Figgs followed with a 3-pointer to make it 17-4.
After a basket by Sacramento's Tiocha Penicherio, Thompson hit a layup, Swoopes followed with a basket and Thompson hit a 3-pointer for the 24-6 lead, the Comets biggest lead of the half.
Yolanda Griffith led the Monarchs with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Tangela Smith added 12 points and Edna Campbell had 10. Arcain finished with 13 points for the Comets.
The Comets won the season series 3-1 against Sacramento including a 74-47 victory on Aug. 5 that was Houston's biggest victory margin of the season.
ROCKERS 66, SHOCK 59: At Auburn Hills, Mich., the Cleveland Rockers knew their season depended on doing something they hadn't done all year.
Beat the Detroit Shock.
The Rockers did just that, getting 16 points and eight rebounds from rookie LaToya Thomas on Sunday to stave off elimination with a 66-59 victory and force Game 3 in the first-round playoff.
The Shock swept the four regular-season games from the Rockers, then opened the best-of-three series with a 76-74 win in Cleveland. Three of Detroit's five wins came by three points or less.
"We didn't let ourselves get frustrated by Detroit," Thomas said. "I know that teams can let that happen, but we didn't. We just came out and played a good game."
Game 3 is Tuesday night at the Palace, with the winner facing Connecticut in the Eastern Conference finals.
"We played a 34-game regular season and finished with the best record strictly for this reason," Detroit coach Bill Laimbeer said. "We wanted to make sure a deciding game will be on our court."