|The Sun's Katie Douglas had 18 points in the East's second straight All-Star Game win. (GERALD HERBERT/ASSOCIATED PRESS)|
In WNBA, East beats West
MVP Ford, Sun's Douglas key win
WASHINGTON -- Bill Laimbeer brought some "Bad Boy" toughness to the WNBA All-Star Game and coached the Eastern Conference to its first winning streak in the midseason spectacle.
"We talked about it before the game," Laimbeer said. "We were going to have some fun, but we're going to win the game."
Cheryl Ford of the Detroit Shock had 16 points and 13 rebounds and Katie Douglas of the Connecticut Sun scored 18 points to give the East a 103-99 victory yesterday, its second straight since losing the first six.
Laimbeer, a physical force on the Detroit Pistons' NBA title teams in 1989 and 1990, has brought that swagger to the WNBA as coach of the league champion Shock.
"He was still the same," said Ford, the All-Star MVP. "He was the fiery coach he is, and he wanted to win.
"I just came to play and show the fans a good time," added Ford, who hit her first career 3-pointer in the second quarter, shot 5 of 9 from the floor and 5 of 7 from the line.
Tamika Catchings had 15 points and 11 rebounds, DeLisha Milton-Jones and Deanna Nolan scored 11 points apiece, and the Sun's Asjha Jones had 10 to help the East hold on after nearly squandering a 12-point lead in the final two minutes.
"Just like that, they came back," Catchings said. "They hit some threes, got some steals, rebounds. They were hitting down the stretch and put that little pressure on us.
"We won and that's all that matters. That's what we were aiming for."
Tina Thompson scored 19 points, Lauren Jackson had 14, and Diana Taurasi and Becky Hammon 13 each for the West, which had its All-Star winning streak snapped last year in New York. Former Sun Taj McWilliams-Franklin added 11.
"Just couldn't pull it out in the end," Jackson said. "It was a fun game, high scoring. If we made a few more threes we probably would have won."
The West shot 37 percent from the floor, attempting an All-Star-record 100 field goals. It was 17 for 46 on 3-pointers, records for made and attempted.
The WNBA announced a new television contract with ESPN/ABC, a landmark deal that will give the league rights fees for the first time.
The eight-year deal, which will also include rights for digital media, will begin in 2009 and go through the league's 20th season in 2016.
"It's a tremendous vote of confidence," WNBA president Donna Orender said. "It's a tremendous vote of affirmation and validation of 11 years of hard work of the athletes of the WNBA, the consistent growth of talent that we have and the growth in our fan base."
Financial details were not disclosed.