score: Storm 77 Sparks 72 (W) (14-10)
Watch | A marching band. Someone in the trumpet
section was straining to hit the high note at the end, but
otherwise it was very marching band-y (that's not necessarily
a bad thing).
Psyche | Paddles... charging... CLEAR!
Highlight | Betty hitting that supa-clutch
three at the end.
| The marching band doing their thing, only
without a lot of marching.
Keyword of the Game | OG SPRAKS*
was it that the Sparks kept this game as close as they did?
The Storm dominated in rebounding including 14 offensive rebounds,
shot 37 free throws compared to 12, had one more made three-pointer
and had more steals. Statistically, this should not have been
decided in the final minute of the game. But decided in the
final minute it was, threatening to cause 10000 simultaneous
at the stats, it's hard to believe how it seemed that the
refs were so horrible. They called twice as many fouls on
LA and they did on Seattle. LA was in the penalty in the second
half with nearly 13 minutes left in the game. Yet with all
the missed calls, screwed up out-of-bounds calls, incorrect
travels, non-call travels (Whitmore, I'm looking at you),
and looking for the side line ref to make a call for the blind
and dumbfounded baseline ref, I can understand why Coach Donovan
got that technical called. Yes, the Sparks had more fouls
called on them, but the refs were still making glaring and
insane mistakes over and over and over again. Kurt didn't
make a call in Seattle's favor until sometime in the second
44 total fouls called, this was another game where neither
team was able to get into any kind of consistent flow. Every
couple of possessions, there was either a foul or a timeout
stopping the game. Coach Donovan kept the starters in for
a long time to start the game, and then started switching
people out in a rapid succession. That too seemed to contribute
to the Storm being kind of choppy.
was one stretch during the first half when the Storm had four
rookies and LJ out on the floor. I'm not sure that we've seen
that before so early in a game with the score as tight as
it was. Vodo, Suzy, Tanisha and Zara were out there with LJ
for a few minutes of game time — long enough for the
Storm offense to go flat and the Sparks to climb back from
being 4 or 5 down to taking the lead by 4 or 5. Coach Donovan
quickly yanked all the noobies and put our starters back in.
Except for that stretch, the bench got very little playing
came back in later, but wasn't hugely effective. Chelle, on
the other hand, came in and had some significant minutes.
She was scoring, getting rebounds, disrupting passes and brought
some much needed energy in to the Storm's game. This was by
far Chelle's best game of the season and was closest to how
she performed at the end of last season. Her shot was again
looking very smooth and she seemed to be moving around without
the stiffness and pain that she had with the earlier back
injury. She did miss two free throws at one point, but got
the rebound and hit a jumper to get the two points. Of course,
the jumper was farther back than the free throw line. Even
after the made basket, Coach Donovan could only shake her
came up huge in this game, even though she was visibly in
pain from the tendonitis in her right forearm/wrist. A few
of her shots were way off, but she hit the big ones when it
counted, especially that three with something like 30 seconds
left to give us a 4 point lead. I don't know if it was a drawn
up play, but Sue drove into the lane with the ball and the
defense started to collapse on her. She passed it out to a
waiting Betty who was completely unguarded. She had time to
set herself and then launched the shot. Of course the place
erupted when that one went in.
almost negated that hero shot next time down the floor when
she turned the ball over to Holdsclaw with 12 seconds left
and a 2 point lead. The shot clock was off and all she really
needed to do was do the clock burning keep away thing and
let the Sparks foul. Instead, Betty came up the floor and
drove towards the basket. The Sparks shut her off and she
got stuck. Maybe Betty was trying to force them to foul her,
but because of her drive and the fact that the refs weren't
calling what she was looking for, Betty had no place to go.
She tried passing the ball back out to LJ and Holdsclaw intercepted
it. Somehow, I didn't see it because the team was all up off
the bench (and had been since about the 3 minute mark), Sue
snapped the ball out of Holdsclaw's hands and saved the game.
You know that if LA had gotten the ball down the court, one
of them would have hit a three or something and taken the
game. As it was, they had to resort to fouling and the Storm
made their free throws to push the lead into two possession
I said, 10000 heart attacks.
Sue and Janell also came up big tonight. LJ got off to a very
slow start and was getting pummeled inside every time she
touched the ball. All of her shots were in the face of at
least two Sparks defenders and, in the first half anyway,
she was getting hacked left and right with no calls. In the
second half, she was camped out at the free throw line and
got her double double one free throw at a time.
had a great shooting night, complimented by 7 assists and
3 steals. Without Teasley and with Dixon being a pale shadow
of her former nasty self, the Sparks guards weren't much to
look at and Sue was in control most of the time.
once again was the beneficiary of all the attention LJ was
getting. She had a whopping 7 offensive rebounds (several
of them were LJ misses in the bruising face of the Sparks'
defense) and either put the ball back up for a layup or got
fouled in the process.
starters accounted for 90% of the game, not something that
the Storm can do every game. For this game, we needed the
starters to carry the load. Because of LA's injury history
this season, their bench has been getting more playing time
than they normally would and outplayed our bench. Since our
bench wasn't getting it done, Coach Donovan didn't screw around
and called upon the starters to stay in there for most of
the game, a couple people asked me what I thought was going
to happen. I said that I thought the Storm would win because
they knew they needed this win to make a statement and to
keep their playoff fate in their own hands. Five or six weeks
ago, I think the Storm would have lost this game. They simply
weren't playing as a team and didn't have their hearts in
it. Now they do and now they are finding ways to win games
regardless of what the refs do or who the opponent is.
it's time to really see who this team is. 6 games on the road
and 4 at home. 7 of those are against western conference teams
who are trying to either hold on to playoff position or get
into the playoffs. The Storm have their playoff fate in their
own hands right now and are positioned to dictate not only
where they end up but potentially who gets into the playoffs
only gets harder...
pregame warmups, Zara, Macchi and Masciadri had a little Italian
confab with hugs all around.
the Sparks were going through their oddly regimented stretching
routine, The Diva was right in front of us. I noticed her
personalized Nikes (gold and white with "LL 9" across
an ankle strap). I told her that her shoes were pretty cool,
and tried to do it with as sincere a delivery as I could because
I honestly thought they looked pretty cool. She thanked me.
I turned to Angie and said, "I feel dirty."
was ganged silly stringed right at the start of the game.
He was so coated in the stuff that you could hardly see his
was at the game and was up and yelling at the refs like crazy
at the end of the first half.
Finger Guy was back in his normal spot, although he didn't
have his thundersticks. He seemed to be doing his normal shtick
though, so I don't know whether leaving the thundersticks
out of the equation was all that he needed to do or all he
was willing to do. I talked to a couple staffers about him
and didn't get any new info (because they didn't know what
the deal was). They said they'd check and let me know.
SPRAKS. So there was a group of Sparks fans sitting in the
middle section across from the scorer's table and about halfway
up the lower bowl. They had "GO SPARKS" spelled
out one letter on a square and each was holding up a letter.
The funny thing was they kept spelling it wrong. First it
was OG SPARKS. Then it was GO SPRAKS. The benefits of an LA
public school education I guess.