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6/22/04 vs Houston Comets

Final score: Storm 57 – Comets 63 (L) (8-3)

Attendance | 8265 (excellent)

Anthem Watch | Choir from Utah that seemed to be in a hurry to get out of Seattle

Fan Psyche | We're going to be 12-2 after these home games...

Game Highlight | Van Chancellor untucking his lavender shirt and hitting a free throw during the pregame warmups

Halftime | Riverdancing

Flopometer | Swoopes had a couple acting jobs that got some phantom calls against Sheri

SF.O Keyword of the Game | Dammit!

Game Photos | Game Photos (Scott Larson)

Crap.

Could it be as simple as the Comets were more relaxed than the Storm, or that the Comets had less pressure on them than the Storm? During warm-ups, if I didn't know that the Storm were coming home after one of their most successful road trips ever, I would have sworn that the Comets were the ones on a roll and the Storm the ones having problems.

The Comets were loose, relaxed and joking around with the fans, with each other and their coach. Swoopes and Coach Chancellor even brought a little girl onto the court to shoot some free throws. They were way too comfortable to be playing on the road.

The Storm weren't loose or relaxed. They were all business — which isn't necessarily a bad thing — but as the game progressed their serious demeanor turned into frustration and fatigue instead of the sharp execution that they have shown in previous games.

In a way, it looked like Houston used their loss against the Storm as a scouting mission and figured out what they needed to do to beat the Storm, or to at least keep the Storm from playing their game.

Houston played extremely aggressively, especially with LJ. They beat her silly and while their posts racked up the fouls, LJ was still getting pummeled and wasn't able to get into her usual rhythm. Likewise, Kamila was getting knocked around and knocked to the floor. One might argue that the Comets were overly aggressive. Evidence? How about 3 players taken out of the game? Tully, Betty and Kamila all had to come out at one point or another due to the Comets' hard fouls. Tully didn't come back. Betty did, but was out of sync. Kamila also came back, but the damage to her hip/thigh left her without any lift and she kept shooting everything short. And LJ had a big target on her back. The Houston posts were all over her.

The Houston guards were also having their way. Swoopes didn't score another 30+ on Sheri, but she kept finding ways to get to the basket especially during the last few minutes of the game. She and Lambert were able to execute their offense regardless of what the Storm threw at them. They were either able to create their own shots or find open teammates under the basket.

On the other side of things, the Storm's offensive sets took longer to come together. The Houston defense was able to react or anticipate quickly and stymie the called plays. The Storm had good ball movement, but still put up some late shot clock shots that were not what Coach Donovan was drawing up.

The Storm were a step slower, a little less in sync and a little more tired than the Comets and it was the difference in the game. If you looked at the stats, the game was very even — except for the shooting percentages, which points to how the Comets won. The Comets were able to assert their style of play and keep the Storm from reasserting theirs. Like I said, it was as if they scouted us a little better than we scouted them.

A little more about our walking wounded: Tully took a charge and landed on her lower back/right hip and was out of the game the rest of the way. It appeared to stiffen up on her almost immediately and she spent the rest of the game on the exercise bike, stretching, grimacing and trying to keep it loose. Betty took a slap to the face when she went up against 3 Comets for a rebound and ended up with a bloody nose. She also had to come out of the game and spent a lot of time on the bench with tissue stuffed up her nostrils and an ice pack under her eyes. Kamila took a hard fall on her left side (I think) and had to check for road rash. In my opinion, she lost a little mobility as a result when she came back into the game. LJ was involved in a multi-body pile up going for a loose ball in front of the Storm bench. She ended up on the floor serving as the cushion for the Comets player who landed on top of her. She didn't seem to be limping, but her shins were coated with something that looked like bronzer - I know it wasn't - but it looked like someone has slathered her shins haphazardly with bronzer cream. Janell also spent much of her time on the bench with a heating pad held to her hip. The good news? I think Sue is still feeling okay...

The other mostly good news? We're still in 1st place in the West and in the WNBA. One loss does not a season break, but I was hoping for that 12-2 record. I can settle for 11-3 instead. And, we have several days before the next game — hopefully enough time for some hips, shins, noses and other assorted parts to heal up a bit.

Other notes:

Lots of luminaries of varying degree in the stands tonight —- Val Ackerman, Howard Schultz (yet again going ballistic over the refs — don't get me started), Slick Watts and Rashard Lewis.

As I had hoped, we had a good crowd on hand for the game. I'm hoping they were all here because of the team's success (or to see local phenom Sheila Lambert) instead of the other more photographic reason.

A sad note - Leighway's mom came to the game, but fell outside the Key and had to be taken to the hospital to be checked out. No news on her condition yet. We all need to send our well wishes out tonight.

On a lighter note, I was unfortunately reminded of a certain pledge I made last season regarding the Storm making it to the Finals. Upon being reminded and rechallenged with this pledge, I made the only choice I could being the person of integrity that I am and promised to stand by my earlier proclamation: if the Storm make it to the Finals, I will come to the first home game dressed as the Storm's Fairy Godmother, er, Godperson. I am stating this here now in public to prove that I stand by my word. You can start being afraid now.

Sue has new shoes that have "Birdy" stitched under the outside ankle. The soles are bright yellow with green insets. I tried to get a couple pics knowing that a few of you have an interest in the players' footwear. I will enable your odd fascinations.

Before the game on the west side plaza outside the arena, there was a group of kids performing a mini-variety show of sorts. The good thing was that they were out there having fun. The bad thing was that the amplification equipment was really good and some of those notes weren't.

Right before the game, which had a US Post Office theme of sorts, a new stamp was unveiled that commemorates the Athens Olympics. All of the gathered Olympians - Van, Anne, LJ, Sue, and Sheryl autographed the oversized stamp. Also, during the Storm player intros, the Storm handed off the basketballs to adults who I assumed were postal workers.

We unveiled the new Stormfans.org t-shirts.

There was a crap load of media on hand — I wonder why — and most of the baseline under the basket in front of the Storm was filled with photographers. I didn't see if the other end was the same, but there were easily 8-10 photographers working the game when there is usually 3 or 4.

The refs, including Nipple Man, suck. And I have to say that all of the new refs that have been added this year suck just as much as the flotsam they replaced.

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