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August 18, 2005 vs. Minnesota Lynx

Final score: Storm 76 – Lynx 60 (W) (17-13)

Attendance | 9245

Anthem Watch | A jazz singer who did a fairly straight forward rendition, except for a couple spots where she wanted to start scatting. Also, to the people in the suite behind us who were yelling and partying during the anthem, you could get shot for that in red states.

Fan Psyche | Pure, unrestrained venomous anger at the Confusion of Refs (tip 'o the hat to Queenie).

Game Highlight | Let's see... LJ blocking everyone, Sue flirting with a triple double, Izzy and Lovelace getting in each other's faces, LJ's potty mouth unleashed as she goes for a double double, Tanisha with 3 steals, everyone plays — everyone scores, Coach Donovan gets her 100th win. You pick the one you like.

Halftime | Microsoft sponsored shooting thing (no, I'm not receiving any money for writing "Microsoft").

SF.O Keyword of the Game | BOOOOOO... oh, you're calling a technical on the Lynx Asst. Coach even though it is halftime? You still suck, but we'll quit booing you.

Game Photos

The game changing play wasn't an Izzy three or an LJ block, or even one of Sue's stop and pop jump shots. There were lots of those three plays, but the one that I think pretty much ensured a Storm win happened with just a couple minutes gone off the clock when Tanisha dove into Vanessa Hayden, who was already on the floor, to get a loose ball. Hayden went out and didn't return to the game. She was holding her right arm/shoulder in an odd position that might have been a dislocation or a severe sprain. Whatever it was, one half of the Lynx's post power team was gone and the Storm defense was able to focus in on Ohlde. The Storm played a great second half and were in complete control, but it might have been a different story had Hayden been in the game.

But, that's basketball. They were without Hayden and we were without Betty. Tanisha didn't purposefully hurt Hayden — she did foul her and got away with it, but that's the game.

The Storm started the game with a lot of energy and intensity on defense. The forced a couple of shot clock violations and pressured the Lynx into several bad shots. The Storm were able to jump out to a quick lead, but allowed the Lynx to keep the game close by committing turnover after turnover. Then the Storm's shooting dried up and it seemed like we were stuck on 26 for several minutes. If the Lynx had been able to take advantage of the Storm's dry spell, the game might have been more of a nailbiter. Fortunately for us, the Lynx couldn't hit a wall with a howitzer either.

I'm not going to rant about the refs. We had Roy and Darla and some imp named Eli who apparently really wants to impress Roy with how many bad Roy-like habits he's learned. It was bad. Missed calls. No calls. Horribly wrong calls. Mostly, it just pissed off Lauren who then turned on the juice and took over the game. I will say one other thing about the refs. Apparently, the Lynx weren't too happy with the Evil Ones either. The Lynx assistant coach was yapping at them as they left the court at the end of the first half, while the now traditional boos rained down. Eli, the Imp, decided he'd heard enough yapping and gave the Lynx coach a T. It was kind of funny — once people realized he'd called a T on the Lynx, they grudgingly quit booing, but not completely.

The Storm came out in the second half and ran away with the game. I remember looking up at the score and all the sudden we're up by 14. Angie had the same reaction. The Storm simply had all the energy, were hitting their shots including some killer threes from Izzy and LJ, and were shutting down the Lynx on the other end. The only drama seemed to be whether LJ would get a double double (she only had 4 points at the end of the first half) and if Sue could get a few more rebounds and get into triple double range (she was sitting at 7 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists for awhile and finished with 9, 5 and 9).

Of course, other dramas erupted here and there. Izzy and Stacey Lovelace got into a mouthing-off and gesturing stand-off that earned them both technicals. In a previous play, Izzy had been hammered by Lovelace and Williams (I think) and didn't get a call (the boos were plentiful on the replay for that one). A couple of plays later, Lovelace got a rebound and Izzy reached in and tied up the ball. She also tried to rip the ball away after the whistle which Lovelace didn't like. There was language, posturing, teammates intervening, Tamika Williams trying to joke about it during the jump ball after the dual technicals. Fun was had by all.

LJ doesn't seem to care for the Lynx too much. She was jawing at them constantly. She did give Lovelace a little "no hard feelings" hug near the end of the game, but that was after 35 minutes of extremely physical play and lots of trash talking. Luckily, the refs didn't seem to hear some of LJ's choicer expressions or she would have been paying for a technical as well.

Speaking of LJ, she put on a show in the second half. As I wrote above, she only had 4 points in the first half, but went to town in the second. It wasn't like she was doing it against one-on-one coverage either. Every time she touched the ball while she was even close to the paint she was instantly double teamed. It wasn't like those double teams were just standing there either. The Lynx are one of those slap happy teams and they were all over LJ. Could be the reason she was getting lippy with them. She cranked up her performance and went to the basket regardless of how many defenders she had draped on her. On defense she was swatting shots away like she was playing tether ball. She would have had more than 4 blocked shots if a couple other ones hadn't been negated by fouls called on those plays.

Our other superstar, Sue, had another all-around great night. Like I said, she ended up with a great stat line and I was hoping that Coach Donovan would have left her in just a little longer so she could have at least gotten a double double. Once the score got in the high teens to twenty range, I knew Sue wasn't going to take another shot. She is the only player that I've seen who really chooses exactly when she is going to score. If she wanted, Sue could probably average close to 20 a game. Instead, she takes shots pretty much only when the team is struggling on offense or when she can pound the nails into the coffin for the other team by hitting one of those backbreaking threes. She doesn't go out looking to shoot the ball, so when the Storm are in control you can bet that Sue won't be shooting. I can understand what she's doing, but it would have been nice for her to get that 10 and 10 tonight.

Tanisha did fairly well again in place of Betty. She still had some poor judgment turnovers — bad passes or over dribbling and allowing the defender to steal the ball — and she is a bit of a foul magnet, but she made up for that by playing solid defense and hitting her shots. This has been a great opportunity for her to grow quickly and adjust to the WNBA by having more playing time, and it has been good for those of us who haven't been too sure about Tanisha to begin to see what Coach Donovan saw in her. She's fearless and has a nose for the ball. She's willing to attack the defense and can hit outside jump shots. She does dribble dribble dribble too much, but she seems to be doing it less each game.

Izzy had a solid game and was either pushing the ball up the court and attacking the defense or hitting her super high arcing threes. She also plays a fearless game, but is under more control than Tanisha (or Betty at times). Izzy loves to fly down the court and catch the defense one-on-one or one-on-two and is always looking for that seam or defender who is turned away. She doesn't force things and smartly backs off when she is too outnumbered. I really love to watch her do her thing.

Janell was reportedly suffering from a minor injury (a muscle sprain?), but started anyway. She didn't have a big night and spent a lot of time on the bench in foul trouble. This gave Suzy and Simone a little more playing time. Suzy didn't put up a big game. Simone again made the best of her few minutes. I think that maybe Coach Donovan played Simone too much last year. She's been much more effective in short concentrated burst of playing time. Tonight, she hit a couple shots, got a couple rebounds and got an assist. The crowd loved it.

Overall our bench did a decent job tonight. They scored 20 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists. Of course, you'd like to see more of everything and the first half drought the Storm suffered through came when the bench was in, but we're not seeing the single digit no rebound kind of nights from them as a group.

This was a good and timely win for the Storm. They are on the verge of clinching a playoff spot and in command of the 2nd place spot over Houston. Looking back at where the team was at the beginning of the season, I don't think anyone realistically had the Storm in this position at the end of the season. I honestly thought we'd be fighting for the 4th spot and lucky to be in the 3rd. As it is, the Storm is legitimately in 2nd and has their first round playoff fate in their own hands. It may still come down to the last game of the season for final playoff positioning, but I think the Storm are in great shape and look like they are playing with a lot of confidence.

I'm sounding like a broken record, but it only gets tougher over the next eight or nine days.

Other Notes:

Coach Donovan, with this win, is the first woman coach to reach 100 wins and is the fourth coach in WNBA history to reach that total. After the game, the team came back on the court with a big bouquet of flowers for Coach D and all gave her a hug. They then stood off to the side while she was interviewed by David Locke, horsing around. Simone got a thunderstick and was whapping everyone on the butt with it.

Several groups and individuals were highlighted during the game including the UW Husky women's volleyball team (Nicksports must have been happy), Rashard Lewis and Jamal Crawford were here for some charity thing, the Gold Medal winning women's basketball team in the Master's Division of the World Championships held in Canada recently (thanks to CK for the correct info), and a young Olympic Gold medalist who competed in a wheelchair.

During one timeout, they played a clip from the Simpsons showing people in the stands at a sporting event. Cheerleaders were on the field throwing t-shirts into the crowd. Homer took off his shirt and painted a bullseye on his stomach. The clip ended and Doppler came out to of course throw t-shirts into the crowd. I'm pretty sure, but if they had played that clip for another few seconds, we would have seen Ned Flanders' wife falling to her death off the back of the grandstands because Homer went for a thrown t-shirt. I'll be honest, I was a little disturbed that they picked a clip leading up to one of the few deaths on the Simpsons to rile up the KeyArena crowd.

BT13, all the way from England!, was here with her mother and will be here for the remainder of the Storm home games. Welcome to Seattle!

I tried one of the "Chicago" hot dogs from the concessions. Hmmm. While I appreciate the effort in offering more than just warmed up Costco dogs, I'm not sure about the "Chicago" dogs. One thing I can be sure of — that pickle relish was the most unnatural color of green I've ever seen in a food product.