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7/12/04 vs San Antonio Silver Stars

Final score: Storm 75 – Silver Stars 59 (W) (11-7)

Attendance | 6800 (including one Phoenix Mercury player!)

Anthem Watch | They didn't mangle the words... because it was a bell chorus.

Fan Psyche | First half — oh crap. Second half — that's what we remember.

Game Highlight | LJ going all MVP again, Sue almost getting a triple double.

Halftime | Wheelchair basketball

Flopometer | The only flopping was Margo try to move around.

SF.O Keyword of the Game | Whew

Game Photos | Game Photos (Scott Larson)

The home cooking didn't kick in until the second half and I can tell you that there were a lot of very nervous Storm fans during halftime.

That first half was almost a carbon copy of the first halves from the last three road games — the Storm were down by 4 and only put up 29 points, they only had 3 FT attempts and were shooting a dismal 32%. The only good stats were that we had outrebounded the Silver Stars and had only committed a handful of turnovers.

But even with a depleted roster (no Ferdie or Semeka), the Silver Stars played the Storm basket for basket during the first half and kept the Storm tight the whole way. The Silver Stars were the aggressors and were driving, cutting and working more efficiently than the Storm on offense.

You could feel the Storm getting a little frustrated I think. It seemed like they had expected to come home and turn on the juice, but they were still too passive, weren't converting on turnovers or defensive stops and were getting beat down the court. Like I said, we were all pretty nervous.

The good signs were that the Storm posts — LJ, Kamila and Janell — were asserting themselves and really fighting for rebounds. Even with Dydek in the game, the Storm bigs were scrapping for every ball. There wasn't a lot they could do when Margo would snatch the ball out of the air 3 feet above everyone's heads, but if the ball came within reach one of the Storm players was going after it.

The other good sign was that even though the Storm offense wasn't clicking, the players were moving around and the passing was tighter than it was in the road games. It was a small thing, but it started to pay off in the second half when the Storm offense did get rolling.

Sheri said after the game that one of the reasons they lost those three games on the road was because they had gotten comfortable where they were and lost their focus. I think the same thing was happening tonight and we saw the Storm slowly regain their focus during the second half.

I say it happened slowly because they would get two or three baskets and go up by 8 or 10 and you could sense that they were mentally saying, "Finally," but then the Silver Stars would chip the lead back down to 3 or 4 on fastbreaks off of missed Storm shots or would charge the lane, get the basket and a foul on the Storm.

The Storm would fight through each of these mini runs by the Silver Stars, go back up by a bit and have the Stars come back again.Each of the Stars' mini runs would get smaller and the Storm's answer would extend the lead farther. It wasn't until the last few minutes of the game that the Storm were able to put it away.

I think a ton of credit has to go the Silver Stars for a gutsy game. I think they came in thinking that Seattle was in a vulnerable spot given their performance on the last road trip. I'm sure San Antonio thought they had as good a chance as ever to steal a game. If it weren't for some inspired play from LJ and Sue, they might have pulled it off. But when it got down to the end of the game, the Silver Stars just didn't have the guns to match up with the Storm.

Sue Bird had an awesome game, especially in the second half. She started doing to her opponents what they had been doing to her and the Storm for the last three and a half games — driving to the basket and shredding the defense with sharp passes. She only needed one more assist to have achieved a triple double. I know that some people who aren't paying attention to Sue think she was in a slump during the first part of the season and she's now out of it. If they knew what they were talking about, they'd know that she has been doing what her team has needed during each game. When Betty was scoring 15-20 points a game, Sue didn't need to drive and score. When the bench was producing points, rebounds and assists, she didn't have to play as much. When the offense was clicking, she didn't have to take such a strong hand with directing the plays. Now, the team is in a rough patch and needs her to score and take control of things, so she is. There was no slump, there was only a player who did what her coach asked of her — and that is still what she is doing, only now she's the one on the highlight reel. That is what makes Sue Bird such a great player. I think she also wanted to school Peewee Johnson a bit and remind the starting Team USA guard that she is ready to take that starting spot at any time.

LJ was her same old bad*** self.

The bench was still a little on the unproductive side stat-wise, but then the stats don't always tell the whole story. I don't think anyone who watched the game could say the bench wasn't bringing a lot more energy into the game than they did during the road trip. Janell hit some of those chippies that she had been missing. Adia came in and played some really tough defense. She also had a couple jumpers that were so close to going in that I wish she had kept at it and could have shot herself out of the scoring drought she is in. Tully and Chelle got very limited minutes, but I think that was because LJ and Sue were playing with such dominance, and because the Silver Stars wouldn't go away. Michelle was dressed and seemed to be moving really well during the warmups, but both she and Simone stayed on the bench.

Betty was more aggressive than she has been and was throwing herself into the fray more often. She does seem to have a problem with her peripheral vision due to the mask because she lost the ball a couple times and I think it was because she didn't see the defender. I'm really hoping she gets used to that mask before September rolls around. We are going to need her at 100% or as close to it as possible for the push into the playoffs.

I think that the Storm have found their focus again, to go back to what Sheri said after the game. They have seven more games before the Olympic break, four at home and three on the road. They need to find their focus now and reassert their game. They had a bad spell — but it that needs to be it. With these next seven games, the Storm have the opportunity to dictate how important September becomes in the run-up to the playoffs.

Other notes:

Pregame speculation was churning like a tornado when a sharp-eyed Storm fan spotted Anna DeForge. She was sitting in the family and friends section above the Storm player tunnel. The crazed guessing started with Anna being at the game because of a yet-to-be-announced surprise trade between the Merc and Storm. Then someone pointed out that the Storm still have an open roster spot, so there is no need to trade. Slowly, reason began to set in and someone suggested that she might be here for the Silver Stars since they would more plausibly be involved in a trade with Phoenix since they are so injury-ridden. None of the Storm staff would give up any info (since they may not have really had any). During halftime, David Locke and Elise Woodward walked by our seats and I asked them if they had heard anything. David thought she might be here because of a girls' basketball camp that was going on today. Elise pointed out that if a trade really was in the works, she wouldn't have been allowed to be seen in the arena unless the trade had been announced. Okay, if you want to logical about it, radio-girl. So we went from DeForge being a new member of the Storm to she's probably here to meet a friend or talk at a basketball camp. It was fun while it lasted.

The DeForge Scenario pretty much dominated the other note stuff. One last bit of info just in case — Angie said that the Storm coaches looked up at her before the game and then looked at each other with "**** eating grins on their faces." Could be nothing, could be...

Semeka traveled with the Stars. She has a mammoth splint/cast on her nose. It was sparkly.

Jezzie and Pwe got the "New Refs" chant going during a timeout when the refs where standing right in front of them. They had to have heard it. Cool.