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9/15/04 vs Phoenix Mercury

Final score: Storm 73 – Mercury 58 (W) (20-13)

Attendance | 7655

Anthem Watch | Well performed. It helped to have the Ft. Lewis Honor Guard there to add the right level of reverence. Also, a lot of singing along from the crowd.

Fan Psyche | This is what getting ready for the playoffs is supposed to look like.

Game Highlight | The Killer B's coming through big time down the stretch.

Halftime | Another skills contest on the court, tense bidding wars at the silent auction on the concourse (the Swoopes shoes be mine!).

Flopometer | Kayte Fish was working it pretty well. She wasn't paying enough attention though because there was one play defending Lauren on the sideline that was a prime flopping opportunity and she stayed on her feet and picked up a reach in foul. Her fish head wasn't in the game.

SF.O Keyword of the Game | Benchies!

Game Photos | Game Photos (Scott Larson)

Whew, that was a good game. The Storm already had their playoff spot locked up while the Mercury are still fighting for position and trying to make up ground against Sacramento and Minnesota. Even though the Storm had 2nd place at stake with home court in the first round — at least, there was the danger that the Storm might not come out with the same determination as the Mercury. The first half certainly looked that way.

The Storm's offense was flat and the Mercury defense was highly aggressive. Passes were getting tipped, any layup attempt was met with 2 or 3 defenders slapping at the ball (and no, the Phoenix players did not really have 8 blocks in the first half regardless of what they were credited with on the stat scoreboard — they were pummeling the Storm and not getting called for the multiple fouls), and the Storm were getting beat up and down the court.

The first 10 minutes or so were very tight on both sides and the score was only about 12-10 with Phoenix leading. Neither team was really having that much success offensively, but the Mercury's stifling defense kept the pressure on the Storm and lead to some easy baskets that allowed the Merc to start pulling away. I think the Storm were stuck at 12 points for a good 5 minutes at least.

During a string of timeouts, Coach Donovan got progressively frustrated with the team's lack of execution on both ends. She kept coming back to the Mercury's plays running screens for DeForge and Taurasi and how the Storm were letting both of them get open. She was also hammering into them that they needed to move more without the ball on offense and cut to the basket because the Mercury defense was letting cutters get free and the Storm weren't capitalizing.

Phoenix built a 13 point lead during the first half and held the Storm to 20 points until about 1:30 left in the half when the Storm went on a mini-run to reel the Mercury back in. Instead of being down by 13, the Storm were only down 3.

I had to go protect my silent auction bids, so I didn't get back to the second half until about 11:00 left on the clock. By that time, the Storm had taken the lead on a couple Tully three pointers. The Storm never looked back as they slowly built a lead. It was yet another one of those games when you keep looking up at the scoreboard and wondering, "How did we get up by 12 so fast?"

The answer, of course, was an intensified defense and much better execution on the offense (but then, isn't that usually the only answer?).

It was almost like the Storm and Mercury traded defensive philosophies during halftime. Now it was the Storm's turn to tip every pass, force shot clock violations, deny every layup and gang block shots. Oh yeah, and we also saw a resurgent Adia Barnes play just about the best game she's had this season — on both ends of the court.

Adia had some significant playing time in the second half and spent much of it guarding Diana Taurasi. Of course, DT outscored Adia — that's to be expected. But Adia was right in there getting rebounds, steals, and trying to frustrate DT as much as possible. She was successful, with a little help from the striped goon squad.

If the refs were letting the Mercury get away with muggings in the first half, they made up for it by calling anything and everything against them in the second half. Diana in particular was getting bent out of shape (potty mouth!), so Adia was able to really get after her and play off of that.

Our benchies in general — The Killer B's according to David Locke — played a solid game with 21 points, 50% shooting and 13 rebounds. Janell was not as effective as she has been in the last couple of games, but Kayte and Tuvic were really smacking her around (Kamila too).

By the end of the game, the starters were on the bench goofing around and acting nutty — always a good sign that we're back on the right track. Adia and Tully got the post-game interview treatment which they definitely deserved.

Yes, we backed into the playoffs, but have confidently latched onto second place and are picking up the all-important momentum we need for the playoffs.

One more to go and just between you and me, I don't think LA is going to know what hit them...

Other notes:

Somebody was paying attention during the Storm's game at Phoenix on the 4th. Their mascot did the bungie cord launch into bowling pins thing that we saw debuted tonight with Doppler. I will give the Mercury mascot a little more credit since he/she/it was going easily twice as fast as Doppler. Even so, it was cool to see and I hope they keep it. Bungie cords and timeouts go hand-in-hand in my book.

A group of Mercury fans did their version of our away game trip to LA and Phoenix by doing the back-to-back LA and Seattle trip. After talking to a couple of them after the game, they are of the opinion that we will be playing each other in the first round since Minnesota is on the road for their last two games while the Merc are at home. Probably. I think I would prefer the Lynx in the first round since the Mercury play us so tough. But we're not in this for the easy trip. If the road leads to America West, so be it. We'll be there screaming "Brick!" as loud as we can.

I think the Stormfans forum members need to have their own preseason training camp. So far, I think we as a group are 0 for everything when it comes to doing the pregame foul / three-point shots for the Team Shop gift certificates. Personally, I have not had the opportunity to allow my skills to shine forth, but I don't think any of the forum members who have had a shot has made the shot this season. NewSocks was today's hapless shooter. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

The refs suck.

David Locke mentioned that the Storm are currently 2500 tickets short of a complete sellout for the LA game. Now is the time to tell your friends, coworkers and neighbors if you haven't already (and being the good Storm fans that you are, you already have). If the Key is a rockin' don't bother knockin', come right on in!