score: Storm 82 Monarchs 62 (W) (2-1)
Watch | 4-man acapella group — the bass
singer had a mutant-like low voice (for a skinny white guy
Psyche | WE'RE IN!
Highlight | LJ hitting 3 after 3, especially
the one with a couple minutes left just to make sure the Monarchs
have something to chew on (other than chicken) during the
off season. Sue Bird giving us a record-setting performance
1 DAY after surgery to set her nose. One of these two performances
would have been good for the annuals of basketball history
— we got both.
| Chinese balancing artist (rode a tall unicycle
and caught bowls on her head).
| Who cares? It didn't help them. In fact,
they were doing it right and left and it helped them lose
the game (just like last year vs LA).
Keywords of the Game | WESTERN CONFERENCE
Photos | Game Photos (Scott
can I say? How many ways can I heap praise on this team? This
group of women who have come together, taken figurative and
literal hits, kept faith in themselves and each other and
came through it all with smiles on their faces and booties
Bird, just one day after surgery to reset her nose, had one
of the best basketball games of her career. From the various
comments people have made who have had similar surgeries,
Sue should have been home and in bed, not breaking the WNBA
playoff assist record and scoring a double double. Tough as
a descriptor doesn't cut it anymore. UConn fans may disagree,
but I think Sue Bird now is better, stronger, and more iron
willed than she has ever been, including her championship
days back in college. This has to be one of those performances
that we will be watching 20 years on ESPN Classic with the
deep toned voice over, "Sue Bird. Olympian. Champion.
Leading her team past all opponents and into the WNBA Finals..."
Jackson. Is there a player more driven than LJ to win? Is
there any player in the world who can do what she does with
2 and 3 defenders draped all over her? The intensity on her
face on during this game was imposing — you knew that
she would not allow this team lose. When she hit her 6th three-point
shot with a minute left, you know she was sending an undeniable
message to the Monarchs and to the rest of the league —
she is the best and it's going to take more than slapping,
flopping and trash talking to stop the Storm from taking their
rightful place in the WNBA Finals. Taking, not barely winning
with a last second shot — taking the win.
Vodichkova. Hit her — she'll get right back up and go
right back to keeping your skinny butt out of the paint. Foul
her — she'll step right up and knock down those free
throws. Ignore her — she'll burn you on the rebound.
They displayed her quote from the newspaper in which she said
that the Czech Republic could keep the Olympics, this is why
she stayed in Seattle. She may not have scored big, gotten
a ton of rebounds or blocks, but she was a force in the middle
and once again kept Yolanda Griffith at bay. This team would
not be where it is without Kamila Vodichkova.
Lennox. We needed her to score — she scored. We
needed her to defend bigger and taller players — she
defended them. We needed her to do her thing with stealing
rebounds from the other post players — she snuck
in there and got some monster rebounds. We needed her to keep
her cool — she was in the game from start to finish.
I hope Betty likes it here in Seattle because she has found
a home and fans who want her to be here.
Sam. How good must it feel for Sheri to finally be going to
the big dance? A double double with 10 rebounds and 12 points,
5 assists, 2 steals and shooting 50% from the floor. You want
a third scoring threat to compliment Sue and LJ (if Betty
isn't already enough for you) and an all-around player who
will do all the little things your team needs to win? I give
you Sheri Sam. The second that the Sol folded, I wanted her
on our team — even above Ruth Riley. I was beside myself
when I found out she was coming to Seattle in the preseason
trade and we are all now basking in the glow of that decision.
That trade is producing dividends big time and is one of the
main reasons we are in the Finals.
Burse — speaking of the trade. She didn't get much playing
time tonight (with LJ almost personally blowing out the Monarchs,
you leave her Aussie butt in the game), but when we've needed
her she has reported for duty and has played through personal
trauma and physical pain. I didn't know much about her before
she joined the Storm, but I learned everything I needed to
know when she came back after that back/hip injury and jacked
her game to a new level. She has had her thigh and hip wrapped
like a damn mummy every game and has to have a heating pad
ready every time she sits down on the bench. She hasn't gotten
a lot of press or notice, but she has been a trooper like
few others. I'm a true Janell believer.
Bevilaqua. How must it feel for her to hear the "Tully,
Tully, Tully,'' chant every time she pulls one of her "how
does she do that" scrambles to the floor or takes a punishing
charge? She got fouled and fouled hard by one of the Monarchs
in the first half and immediately had a big old egg pop up
on her forehead. She stayed in the game for awhile and when
she came out reached for the bag of ice before she made it
past the coaches. I think she and Sue may have been trying
to out tough each other. She didn't let it slow her down,
even though she must have had an instant migraine. All I can
say is Dirk, you need to be here for the Finals because the
other teams keep beating up on your wife. And oh yeah, we
love her to death.
Barnes. Adia also didn't get much playing time tonight with
Coach Donovan going with a 8 person rotation. Angie and I
have been fortunate to be able to help Adia with her Foundation
a little bit, and I can tell you that this woman has been
working non-stop to do everything she can to help this team.
Think about how far Adia has come from this time last year.
She's tired of people asking about her injury, true, but it's
still a huge accomplishment to come back like she has and
contribute like she has. Adia is a true professional and an
Thompson. How in the world did I not know about Chelle before
she joined the Storm? Her jump shot has got to be one of the
prettiest shots I've ever seen. She is unflappable on the
bench — always the first one to pump up the team
during a timeout and the last one to give encouraging words
as the 5 starters head out for the opening tip. She came in
tonight and played only a few minutes, but still had a big
impact by hitting another three and ripping down 2 monster
rebounds. LJ and Sue are the leaders of the team, but Chelle
is the leader of the bench and I can't imagine a Storm team
without her doing her thing with a towel on her head.
Edwards. Another player who got little playing time thanks
to the shortened rotation, but someone who takes every opportunity
to get the crowd going and encouraging us to join her in supporting
the team on the court. I know that Simone would rather be
on the court and more actively contributing to the team's
success, but instead of moping or being divisive, she is there
cheerleading every play and doing whatever she can —
on the floor or on the bench. I hope, like Kamila, that Simone
is enjoying this win like no other. It has been a long five
years for the both of them and they deserve this as much as
anybody on the team.
Greco. If I could talk to Michelle for a few minutes, I would
tell her that her gracious patience will pay off and she will
get her chance on the court. It has been tough to watch her
calmly sit at the end of the bench, waiting for Coach Donovan
to say, "Greco, let's go!" Given the way Coach Donovan
is running the playoff rotations, I don't know that Michelle
will get much playing time in the games to come. All I can
say is that we all appreciate her good natured smile and her
quiet resolve to stay positive and support the rest of her
team. Her time will come.
Donovan. She's been here before with the Sting and she kept
this team together and confident in spite of the refs and
in the face of a relentless Monarchs team. In every timeout
huddle, she exuded calm and control. Her confidence in this
team covered them like a protective blanket and buoyed their
spirits even when the game looked like it might start slipping
away. It was almost like she was showing them by example how
to shake off the incredibly bad calls or the slapping and
jabbing from the Monarchs and come back with more intensity
and determination each time. Like the trade for Sheri, I was
so happy when it was announced that the Storm had hired Coach
Donovan after Coach Dunn had left. She was the best possible
choice when the Storm management, like so many other teams,
had a lot of other poorer choices they could have made (like
a former NBA player and first-time head coach). Coach Dunn
laid the foundation and Coach Donovan has taken the team and
molded it into a Championship contender. Now there is one
enough over-the-top gushing — on to the game.
I saw the list of refs taped to the end of the scorers table
before the game, my heart sank. Talk about an Axis of Evil
- Roy Glubeyan, Sally Bell and June Courteau. How bad was
it? Roy looked like an almost decent ref, that's how bad Sally
and June were. For all those people out there who like to
bleat about how we always complain about the refs, especially
saying that since we've never played or reffed ourselves that
we have no place commenting at all? Take this and stick it
— the guy sitting behind me tonight was a 14-year veteran
ref for the Pac-10 and is now an official ref observer for
the Pac-10. He watches the refs at a game, takes notes on
their performance, delivers a report to them in the locker
room after the game and lets them know how they did. He was
in a constant state of disbelief watching how the Three Blind
Mice called this game. He said it was one of the worst refereeing
performances he's ever seen and was actively trying to convince
June and Sally to take an early retirement. Argue with that
Monarchs came out with a lot more passion and intensity than
they've shown at the beginning of either game 1 or game 2.
We knew it would be that way, but it was still anxiety-inducing
to see them keep finding ways to wipe out the Storm's 10+
point leads at will. During the first half, every time the
Storm would get a little distance, the Monarchs would reel
them back in. Guppy, Edna and Ticha were the main force behind
the Monarchs' push each time. The posts were having a hell
of a time getting good positioning, but because the guards
were hitting their outside shots, Yo, Pocahontas and Flounder
were able to cut to the basket on single defensive coverage
and get some easy layups. Every time one of the Monarchs'
bigs got the ball out of the paint and would try to make their
move, the Seattle defense was able to consistently deny them.
It was when they slipped behind the defense because the defense
had to pay attention to the perimeter that they got the easier
and time again, the Monarchs pushed and got within 6 or 4.
They took advantage of sloppy play by the Storm at the end
of the first half to seemingly instantly chop a 14 point lead
down to 4 and steal the game's momentum going into halftime.
There were plenty of nervous Storm fans watching the Chinese
acrobat do her thing with the balancing plates. Leighway was
particularly bent out of shape over the Monarchs' run, asking
what if they do that again? I answered that the Storm would
just have to do their same performance too and since we ended
the half up by 4, we'd win by 8 easy.
are all kinds of sports cliches about one team wanting it
more or one team refusing to lose. All I can say is that the
Storm defined those cliches tonight. They came out in the
second half and simply destroyed the Monarchs in a way that
no one had even dreamed they would do. During the halftime
shoot around, someone nudged me and said the Monarchs looked
nervous. They did and they proceeded to fall apart while the
Storm went on a 20-0 run. A 20-0 run in the deciding game
of the Western Conference Finals. That is unheard of. Others
may describe the Monarchs' implosion as a choke of monumental
proportions. I prefer to look at it as the Storm finally putting
the pieces together and playing like the team we remember
from before the Olympic break. Monarchs' supporters have been
saying that their team was peaking at the right time and that
they were ultimately the better team. LJ's and her teammates'
answer to that was, 'Peak this."
after rebound. Steal after steal. Three after three. The Storm
were unstoppable in the second half. They poured it on and
on and on until they had a 24 point lead. It wasn't until
Coach Donovan started putting in the bench and allowing the
starters to come off did the Storm turn off the jets. They
utterly and in every category took this game and never looked
back. What a way to win. What a way to go into the WNBA Finals
— not looking back, not sliding in the easy way or by
accident, but by firmly and resolutely stating that this game
are the 2004 Western Conference Champions and going into the
WNBA Finals with home court advantage.
starting to sink in.
many things to mention...
cried twice at the end of this game. The first time was when
the clock was winding down at about 3 minutes or so. The ending
was clear. People started folding the "WIN and we're
IN!" signs Angie and I made and distributed so that just
the "we're IN!" portion was showing. I hadn't even
thought that they would get used that way and when I saw it
happening behind the basket and in the sections around us,
it was real — we were in the Finals.
second time was when the horn sounded and the team and the
crowd went crazy. It was too much. 6-26 year 1 and going to
the Finals year 5. It was too much.
the "Brick!" signs in action put a ****-eating grin
on my face too. I turned to Angie the first time they appeared
in the second half (the Monarchs were shooting on our end
of the court in the second half) and said, "I made that."
Godmother. Sunday. I'm a man of my word and I'm going to show
what "Bring It" really means, and on national television.
Schultz almost got ejected from the game. He was livid and
raving at Sally Bell every time she stood under the north
basket (he was sitting right next to the basket on the Storm
side because the ESPN2 broadcasters displaced him). She warned
him, "One more time," after a particularly emphatic
display. He quieted down, but then the Storm made yelling
at the refs a moot point so he was saved.
crowd was in-freaking-credible. How needs a PA announcer or
scoreboard operator (no offense guys, you do a good job) when
you have fans like Storm fans? Every play a new chant started.
My new pal down on the south end of the floor was starting
everything, and then Big Lo was anchoring the chants from
the north end. I hope all the Sonics, Mariners and Seahawks
players in attendance (there were a lot of them here tonight)
liked what they saw, and got a little jealous. I don't remember
too many of their games that have had crowds like ours —
although I'm willing to give the Seahawks a pass since the
Kingdome (RIP) also instilled fear in the hearts of visiting
teams. Now, we need this place sold out — 17,000 for
a fan of the signs and there were so many good ones that I
can't remember them all. I took a lot of photos, so they'll
show up there. It is almost like fans are getting into a oneupsmanship
contest with the signs. There are more and more every time
and it makes me want to do more myself, although it's going
to be tough to top 1000 signs. Do I hear 2000 for Sunday???
one timeout, they did the match Sue's shot activity and the
boy actually hit the $500 half court shot! Doppler went over
to Howard to get the cash and Howard pulled out his wallet.
He didn't pony up, but it was funny to watch.
of Doppler and funny to watch — he had a remote control
Hummer racing around the court delivering popcorn and candy
to people. The funny part, and inspired I might add, came
when he dropped a little stuffed Monty on the floor and proceeded
to run Monty over again and again. The Monarchs didn't look
too pleased when they came out of their timeout huddle to
see their mascot being crushed in effigy. That was brilliant,
the horn sounded, metallic confetti rained down from the ceiling.
I had Angie collect some for the scrapbook.
Conference Champion t-shirts and hats materialized out of
nowhere at the end of the game and all the players and staff
had them on in no time. I know the answer is much mundane
than this, but I wonder if there are championship gear elves
who just know what's going to happen?
had a sign that I was keeping folded up, no peeking for anyone,
in the eventuality that the Storm won. It said, "Trip
to MINN: $675. Trip to SAC: $935. Trip to CONN: $1750. Seeing
all Storm playoff games? PRICELESS." I just happened
to have it out after the game and David Locke caught a glimpse
of it. It looked like he was reading it for the radio audience.
Let me know if that was the case, because that would be super
want to see the decibel level for this game. I bet we exceeded
the 101 Scowl photographed last game. I say that because there
were a couple of spots where my ears were hurting from the
sound. I love you guys.
know there was more, but my hands are starting to ache from
Are. In. The. WNBA. FINALS!!!!