Sun-Fever Preview

The Associated Press

After dropping four in a row, the Indiana Fever appear to be back on track.

Having nine-time All-Star Tamika Catchings back should help them continue to improve.

Indiana looks for a fourth win in five games Thursday when it hosts the struggling Connecticut Sun.

The Fever (9-10) allowed an average of 86.8 points during a four-game skid from June 22-29. They've since held opponents to 73.5 per game in winning three of four, including a 78-76 victory at Tulsa on Tuesday. Catchings scored nine of her 23 points in the fourth quarter and hit the go-ahead basket with 5.2 seconds left.

Catchings, who was playing her second game of the season after missing the first 17 due to a sore back, was named an All-Star on Tuesday. She's started every All-Star game since joining the WNBA in 2002.

"We're an emotional team and we have to do better late in the game," said Catchings, who also grabbed 11 rebounds in 31 minutes. "We've lost six or seven games this year when we've had double-digit leads and we can't do that. Tonight, with the game on the line, Coach (Dunn) was looking for someone to step up and want the ball at the end. I always want the ball in that situation and we executed just like it was drawn up."

The former league MVP looked much better than in her season debut in Indiana's 71-70 loss to San Antonio on Saturday, when she scored six points on 1-of-7 shooting while playing just 20 minutes. She was 8 for 14 Tuesday.

"I was glad to see her improve from her last game and she helped us make some big stops in crunch time," coach Lin Dunn said.

The Sun (9-11) are just 2-7 on the road and have lost five of six overall, most recently 83-71 at Atlanta on Tuesday.

Chiney Ogwumike and Alex Bentley each scored 19, but Connecticut shot just 39.2 percent from the field. Rookie forward Alyssa Thomas was 0 for 7 from the field and went scoreless for the first time. The No. 4 overall pick was just two games removed from scoring a season-high 24.

Connecticut is averaging 71.8 points during a 1-5 stretch after previously scoring 77.8 per game for the season.

"I made a personal goal to play harder in the second half and had the support of my teammates," Ogwumike said. "But I think (the Dream) controlled the tempo because they played like a team, they celebrated together, and that's one thing that we're trying to do consistently. They did it for 40 minutes. We did it for about 25 minutes."

Indiana defeated the Sun 79-65 on May 29 for its third straight home win in the series, but lost two games in Connecticut by a combined 39 points in a 10-day span last month.

Catchings averaged 16.0 points and 4.3 steals while playing in three of five matchups last season.

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