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Hot Flashes: Fever's Johnson, Coleman brought the heat in Game 4

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The Fever fought together shooting 86% from the charity stripe and kept away from careless turnovers, as they travel to Minnesota with five 2012 Championship stars and a handful of remarkable bench teammates.

Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Indianapolis, IN -- Tamika Catchings, Briann January, Erlana Larkins and Shavonte Zellous had the spotlight in the 2012 WNBA Finals against the Minnesota Lynx.

Three years later, Shenise Johnson and Marissa Coleman will join the champions and enter the light.

"[Last night] I'm looking to Catch. I'm looking to Bri. I'm looking to Steph. And they do a great job of putting us in position to make good decisions," said Johnson. "We have good relationships with each other. And when you have that, the trust is unlimited."

For the past 10 elimination games, the Fever currently stand a 9-2 record, dating from 2012. With their backs against the wall in the 2015 WNBA Finals, Indiana came together as a team to rally for one more game. However, they did not find their way to success.

Each player fought their way.

The warrior Coleman continued to watch the rewarded shot-fake of Maya Moore after the loss on Saturday. Hunched over the video, she knew what she had to accomplish coming into the elimination game.


She had to fight to defend against Moore, the ultimate player with 13 championships in her full basketball career, and against the battling defense of the Minnesota Lynx.

To start, she went three for five leading seven points in the first quarter alongside Catchings with six. Her 6'1'' fast frame gave her a good separation advantage against defenders.

After trailing 20-15, the second quarter was quiet for Coleman, but sparked achievement for Johnson, as she appeared on the stats chart with six points and 2-2 from the charity stripe.

With eight turnovers, the first half of the game for the Fever could have been better played. Leaving the locker room, Head Coach Stephanie White expressed frustration over the eight turnovers converted to eight of the Lynx points.

In fact, after two turnovers, and a Minnesota six-to-zero run in the first two minutes of play, White called a timeout. White was so frustrated; she had leader Catchings carry the "chat."

"So I just challenged them. Do you want to see the opponent hoisting up a trophy on our home floor, or do you want to fight, and do you want to compete, and do you want to do everything we've done to put ourselves in this position," said White. "Fortunately, they responded. It's tough."

Catchings blamed herself for the turnover, and told the team to pull it together.

"Together" is what the Fever say in every huddle break. Together is how they performed the remainder of the game.

The climatic third-quarter gave a revival for the Fever. Catchings hit a 21-footer to tie the game at 38. Vital player January creatively scored by driving into the paint on Minnesota's Sylvia Fowles, who was deep in foul trouble. Johnson then noticed the trend and drove in and hit back-to-back layups for a nine-point lead.

White yelled cheerfully as her fist swung across her body. Each successful attack erupted more and more of the team's energy for a chance of renewal.

Then, the Fever defense stayed fumed as they committed turnovers on shot-clock violations for the Lynx. The crowd of over 10,000 stood and screamed as loud as Saturday's fan section of 16,000.

With red towels waving in the Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Fever went on a 22 to six run. With adrenaline, Coleman clutched a deep two followed by a three-pointer that gave them the series largest lead of 14 points. She ended her hot streak with an outstanding 14 points. The team finished the quarter with the only two turnovers, compared to Minnesota's six alone.

The score 58-46, the fourth quarter, consisted of the entertaining defensive strategies. Four points were the only score for each team four minutes into the fourth. With approximately five minutes left, January took advantage of the bonus and continued to drive the lane for chances at the charity stripe.

She finished the game with 13 points, five assists, and three rebounds. Johnson answered with five points in the fourth, totaling her stats a remarkable 15 points, five rebounds, two steals and a block.

The Lynx stayed alive in the final minute of the game as they caught to a four-point trail after a few missed free throws and shot attempts by the Fever. Yet, with the clock with one minute in Indiana's favor, Minnesota was forced to foul, and saw their light dimmer as the clock approached zero.

"Indiana played great. Played like a team that didn't want their season to end," said Minnesota's head coach Cheryl Reeve. " They played with great pace. They had to be thrilled with their offense, in particular, just the way that they came at us. Frankly, it probably started with their defense. We started early in the game with silly turnovers. They were very opportunistic."

Shooting 25-29 from the free-throw line, committing 15 fouls, and shooting 49%, the Fever battled their way to victory. Even with the 15 turnovers with nine converting to opposing team points, and 10 fewer points in the paint, White is pleased with the commitment each teammate presented.

"Just extremely proud of our team," said White. "The heart that they've shown all season long, the unselfishness that they've shown all season long, the togetherness that they've built throughout this season, it's just been incredible to watch this team go from where we started to where we are right now."

January, Coleman and Johnson each assisted well, positioned open opportunities, created offensive and defensive plays, and created fouls to help in the fight. Catchings was happy to brag on her teammates during the fight.

"At that point, we'd never had all 12 players for a full game," said Catchings. "We knew that, once we put all 12 of us together, how much better we could be and how great we could be. We're inspired by one another. You see that when we're out there. It doesn't matter whose night it is.

The Fever have a 9.8% margin of victory due to their 9-2 elimination record and their success at away matches. Until then, Coleman and Johnson will have to shake off any nerves and fight alongside the returning 2012 Finals Championship squad.