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7/17/04 vs Washington Mystics

Final score: Storm 85 – Mystics 83 OT (W) (13-7)

Attendance | 7867

Anthem Watch | Not bad, she definitely had volume control.

Fan Psyche | So that's why the refs need police escorts off the court.

Game Highlight | The last 6 seconds - LJ stuffs #1 and Sue drives for the game winner.

Halftime | Skills contest (and lots of fan bitching about the refs).

Flopometer | The Storm got away with a couple. The Mystics got away with one that was so obvious, the fans almost rushed the floor in order to make sure that Roy Gulbeyan's ref whistle would become a permanent part of his anatomy.

SF.O Keyword of the Game | AHHHHHHHH!!!! - both in the good way, and the bad way.

Game Photos | Game Photos (Scott Larson)

Check the pulse and get the defib paddles ready just in case — if this game didn't test your heart, you may already be dead.

And for those Storm fans who missed this one (Norwester, Eclair, StormFan7, etc), boy did you miss one. Begin kicking yourselves.

I had a pretty good feeling about this game after watching the Storm during the shoot around. They all looked relaxed and confident. Both Simone and Adia were playing with kids, Kamila and Betty took extra time on their shots after most of the team went into the locker room. The Mystics, on the other hand, were fairly subdued during their warmups and except for Tamicha Jackson, who had a couple of the ball kids do some rapid fire passes so that she could do some rapid shooting drills, looked a little tired or jet lagged.

They were saving it for the game apparently.

Both teams' pre-game demeanors went out the door once the ball was tipped. The Mystics suddenly had more energy and were hitting everything from every range, including a rash of threes one after another that pumped up their lead quickly. The Storm ran with them for the first few minutes but lost their focus and started committing unforced turnovers right and left with bad passes, bad catches and playing very tentatively. They were telegraphing their passes or hesitating so long to the get ball into the post that the Mystics were able to set up, anticipate and get a hand in or steal the ball. According to the box score, the Storm ended the game with 15 turnovers. I think that should have been a lot higher since they had close to 15 turnovers in the first freaking half.

The pain didn't stop. Dales-Schuman, Beard, Page and Sandford were punishing the Storm defenders with an effective mix of outside jumpers and deep post moves. Yes, the Storm held Chamique to 0 points until late in the second half, but the Mystics were still able to build a 16 point lead in the first half. 16 points. The Storm have only been down that far in a game one other time this season — to the Mystics at MCI Center on July 7 — and I can't (or don't want to) remember the last time the Storm were down 16 at home.

It gets worse.

As I said above, the Storm were playing really sloppily and were out of sync. The point guards were back to telling the other players where to go because people were out of position. LJ was barking at a couple players because the passes to her were coming late or were getting picked off by the Mystics. Sue, after a couple of those passes, was benched - after only about 5 minutes had been played in the game. I don't ever remember Sue getting benched because of mistakes that early in the game. The Storm players and coaches were all showing disturbing signs of frustration.

The lowest point in the first half had to be when the Storm were coming out of a time out and Sue started questioning Coach Donovan who was supposed to play the 3 spot. She was in with both Tully and Betty. Coach had been playing a 3-guard lineup already, so that in itself wasn't a source of confusion, but who was supposed to play the small forward apparently hadn't been identified during the timeout. Sue was holding up three fingers and asking "Who's the 3? Who's the 3?" Coach was visibly irritated, benched Sue and put in Sheri. It was not a pretty sight to see both Sue and Coach Donovan so frustrated with each other. I would have to go back to the Lin Dunn era to dredge up a coach/player exchange that comes close to what happened between Sue and Coach Donovan tonight.

Coach was also laying into the other players too, and with good reason I think. She was going nuts because the perimeter defenders were giving Alana and Stacey so much room, especially after they started draining threes. She was going nuts because the post defenders were getting beat on the baseline or were allowing the Mystics posts to get deep position. After one Mystic baseline drive in the early second half, she turned to the bench and said, "The same play again and again and again."

It gets worse.

The refs were so incredibly bad that I thought my forehead was going to explode from all the screaming I was doing. Some examples: Janell was getting a rebound and a Mystics player came flying in from behind Janell and bowled into Janell's back. Janell got called for the foul. Just about every out of bounds call was botched. Either the ref on the baseline would hold up his hands and look for the sideline refs to make the call even though he had been looking right at the play or he would make a call and one of the sideline refs whose view had been blocked overturns his call. Or worst of all, they would make a call and Chamique would overturn it. Yes, she is that multidimensional. Roy "I am Satan Spawn" Gulbeyan actually overturned an out of bounds call because Chamique told him he was wrong. One of my other favorites is when one of our players got plastered and knocked to the floor because a Mystic screener (I think it was Melvin) was moving on the screen and hip checked the Storm player. Who got the foul called? The Storm player massaging her ribs on the floor of course. The Mystics were visibly holding Kamila and Janell — and I don't mean they were grabbing wrists or jerseys, I mean they were wrapping their arms around the Storm players. No call. Storm drives to the basket were met with slaps, pushes and hacks. No calls. Hey Roy, Will Smith called and wants to do a new movie about you call "I, SuckBot."

People actually left during the first half.

The Storm were lucky to get out of the half down by only 9, thanks to a couple quick baskets including an LJ three to end the period.

So here we were in uncharted territory — for this season anyway — and the question was how would the Storm respond to the Mystics, the refs and their clear frustrations with each other?

Answer: start the second half by playing great defense, erasing the Mystics lead and going ahead themselves. The refs were ignored, the Mystics were shut down and, oh yeah, Lauren went off.

The Storm were only able to get as much as a three point lead before the Mystics gathered themselves and started playing again. With about 15 minutes left, the two teams started trading baskets and it was tight the rest of the way. Amazingly, the Mystics held off the Storm and kept the game even without Chamique, who didn't get a score until the clock was down to 7 minutes. Whoever was guarding her at the time was either seriously faked out or just guessed horribly wrong because all the sudden Chamique had an open baseline. She dribbled in and had time to set and shoot. It was such a good looking shot that I knew she might use that one shot as a way of getting her confidence back and go off. It's probably a good thing that it happened so late in the game, because she pretty quickly scored 3 more times. It was a little distressing to keep hearing, "Chamique Holdsclaw" over the arena PA.

The good news is that as Chamique started to assert herself, the Storm were able to keep the other Mystics from scoring and kept hitting huge baskets themselves to keep the game in reach. LJ blocked a Holdsclaw layup and Betty ran down and hit a free throw line jumper to tie the game with about a minute and a half left. Neither team was able to get another shot before the end of the game.

We go into OT. Check the heart monitors.

The overtime picked right up with the same back and forth and trading baskets. The last play of the game, tied on 2 LJ free throws, clock down to 25 seconds and the Mystics have the ball and take a timeout. Chamique gets the inbounds and holds the ball out beyond the three point line with LJ guarding her. With about 9 seconds on the clock, she starts her move, jukes LJ a little to get some room and goes up for a jump shot. LJ stuffs the ball completely and Sue grabs it, runs the floor and hits the game winning layup. 2 seconds left. The Mystics try to inbound after a timeout, but miss — game over.

When LJ blocked Chamique, the place erupted only to triple in volume a half second later when Sue picked up the ball and then go unglued when Sue made the layup. Seeing the replay, Sue masterfully screened out the Mystics defender with her back and rear end as she went up for the shot. There was no way the Mystics player was going to have a chance at touching the ball or altering the shot, and if she had tried there was no way she couldn't have fouled Sue because of the way Sue used her body. Ice in the veins, baby.

And then, and THEN we find out the LA/SAC game is down to the wire with the Monarchs leading, holding on for the eventual win.

It doesn't get much better than this.

Postgame, Sue and LJ both get the floor interview with David Locke and we find out that the team has set the goal of going 6-0 to finish out before the Olympic break. One down.

Other notes:

We went to the Bite of Seattle with Jezzie and Pwe before the game to get some good eats. We walked around, I contained myself from going into pedestrian road rage, and sample the culinary offerings. We also passed some damn dirty hippies who were engaging in some dumpster love — they were sitting on the ground, leaning up against two overflowing dumpsters and cuddling. This is why drugs are bad, people.

The Storm had a booth right at one of the entrances to the Bite, which was good to see, and had a huge banner up at the east entrance to the Key that said "Storm game tonight," which was also good to see.

Anna DeForge was not in the building tonight.

Elise Woodward's baby was in the building and has shockingly blue eyes and a tussle of blond hair - super cute.

One of the timeout activities they usually do entails blindfolding a little kid and letting them wander around trying to find Doppler while the crowds cheers or boos depending on whether the kid is going in the right direction or not. Tonight they did it a with a little twist. It was a woman who was blindfolded and when she found "Doppler," it was really her boyfriend on his knee offering her a ring in marriage. She must have said yes because he looked like a happy camper as they left the floor.

Doppler had his crazy string gun out a couple of times, once for a birthday girl like usual and again on some guy behind the south basket. The guy apparently decided to not fight it and helpfully turned around and around so Doppler could totally cake him with silly string.

So we had the massive Bite of Seattle going on in every square inch of the Seattle Center, offering every kind of food you could want. What does Leighway and BirdJackVodka do before the game? Eat pizza at Pagliachi's a few blocks away. No culture.

New Socks was in town and kept her personal Storm win streak alive. The Storm have not lost at home when she has been in the Key. She'll be here for the rest of this home stand and that's a good thing (re: 6-0 before the OGs).