score: Storm 85 Mercury 74 (W) (20-14)
Watch | The "Gimme the Mic" winner.
Mostly okay. She had some odd timing, but then I'm a nitpicker.
Psyche | Kamila, we love you. Now will someone
please guard Kamila at the top of the key. It's not like we
don't know she's going to shoot from there.
Highlight | The whole game was a highlight.
| More dunking ushers.
Keyword of the Game | MVP, MIP, Coach of the
was a rollercoaster of a game topping off a rollercoaster
of a year.
are so many things to cover. I want to start off by recognizing
Diana Taurasi and one of the classiest moves I've seen in
sports. At the end of the game and the score out of reach,
instead of running up her own stats, DT held the ball, motioned
for Kamila to slip over to the top of the three-point line,
then drove to her right and dished back to Kamila so that
Kamila could take the last shot which she hit at the buzzer.
In addition to putting on a great show throughout the game,
Diana wanted the last visual of the game to be Kamila hitting
a three. That was a great move and I think we all appreciated
it. DT already had my respect for her skills and personality.
Now she has some admiration too.
no particular order, here are the highlights, thoughts and
impressions from this game:
David Locke trying to jinx it a few games ago by pointing
out that if the Storm went 3 and 1 over their last 4 games
they would match last year's record at 20-14. The fact that
the Storm did in fact achieve that record for me means that
Coach Donovan HAS to be seriously considered as Coach of the
Year. Show me another team that lost 2 starters and their
top reserve, veterans all, and then came back with the highest
rookie minutes of any team in the league, overcoming injuries
to 2 of their star players a sub-500 first half of the season
and I'll add that team's coach to the list along with Coach
Donovan for COY. The Storm finished the season going 12-4
and took 2nd place in the West. The other coaches who have
been talked about winning the COY all along have taken basically
intact teams with good preseason personnel additions and played
to their expectations. Coach Donovan and her staff lost half
a team and got nothing in return since those lost players
were free agents. No one, and I mean no one, gave the Storm
any real chance to be in the playoffs and certainly not finishing
in 2nd place with the 4th best record overall. Coach Donovan
deserves the COY and it will be an injustice if she doesn't
was disappointed in Phoenix's overall performance in this
game. It seemed to me that the only two players who were acting
like they had a chance at the playoffs were Taurasi and Kamila.
I know that Penny Taylor is playing injured and was unable
to play at her normal pace or level, but where was the drive
and energy from the rest of the team. The only reason the
Mercury were in the game was because Diana had close to a
career night and Kamila played like she had something to prove
against her old team. Diana was simply awesome. It seemed
like she couldn't miss in the first half and every time she
shot the ball the entire crowd sighed in resignation that
it was going in. Kamila got applause with every shot she hit,
even when they were daggers that eventually helped the Mercury
get the lead. The two of them were the Phoenix offense tonight.
Storm on the other hand had one of their most balanced scoring
nights this season with the bench contributing 31 big time
points. With LJ on the bench for the entire second half nursing
a back sprain, Suzy and Simone got the call to cover the post.
Suzy had a great night with 11 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.
That is the kind of bench production the Storm are going to
need in the playoffs. Coach Donovan relied on the bench a
lot tonight and had them out there on their own on a couple
of occasions. In the first half, the Mercury were able to
take advantage and momentarily take the lead while the bench
was in. In the second half however, the bench did much better
and not only held the lead we had at the time but built on
had a very strong game and took advantage every time the Phoenix
defenders played soft on her or left her for a double team
against our posts. She hit some key baskets down the stretch
in the second half and then hit her free throws once the Mercury
started fouling to stop the clock. I was not a Tanisha fan
at the beginning of the season, but I am now. Her progress
has been fun to watch and I can see her assuming, finally,
the role that Tully once held as that burst of energy on defense
or scoring off the bench. Last season, when Sue went out there
was no let down because Tully would come in and amp things
up. Tanisha is becoming that player and only has consistency
left as a challenge.
had one of her best games of the season and again took control
when the Storm went stagnant and hit the baskets we desperately
needed to keep Diana at bay. It's almost as if Sue's field
goal percentage goes up when she thinks the team needs her
to score. With LJ out of the game, Sue was the one to pull
the team together during huddles or coming out of timeouts
to reiterate Coach's plan or to make sure everyone was on
the same page. She made sure to find the hot shooters and
to reward her teammates with the ball on offense after they
had a good play on defense. It was great to see her leadership
come to the fore in the absence of LJ's on court leadership.
looked a lot more comfortable out there than the last game
and certainly had fewer bobbled dribble or pass incidents.
I wonder if having such a limited use of her injured hand
hasn't forced Betty to be more in control of herself when
she makes her moves to the basket. She has to measure her
fearlessness against what she can actually do and I think
it means that she is taking better shots.
had the beginnings of a solid game, but came down with a rebound
towards the end of the first half and strained her back. I
don't think she was hit by anyone. It looked to me that it
was a combination of her reaching for the ball with both hands
and the way she landed. She kind of landed "short"
— it looked like she thought she had jumped higher than
she really did and landed sooner than she expected and consequently
took all the shock of her landing in her lower back rather
than her legs. She instantly grimaced and grabbed her back
(after passing the ball out). On her way to the bench, she
told Coach Donovan that, "It's my back, I hurt my back."
She and the trainer went into the locker room. During the
half, we got word (thanks the power of text messaging from
someone who was watching the game on TV) that LJ was probably
not going to come back in the second half. She did eventually
come out and sat at the end of the bench with the trainer
alternating between ice packs and massaging LJ's lower back.
She was able to move around and didn't look to be in any great
pain, but it did look stiff and she was moving with care.
a result, the Storm had to finish the game without their MVP
candidate. I almost think it was good for the team to have
to play without LJ and to be facing a team, well at least
facing a couple of players, who desperately needed to win
this game. The Storm did a great job in not only holding off
the Mercury but building their lead and taking the win without
much drama at the end. LJ was able to protect her back from
further injury and our bench was able to get some positive
and productive minutes as we head into the playoffs. I hope
that LJ's injury is minor enough that a couple days' rest
will be enough to iron it out. I'm confident that the Storm
will be able to beat Houston, but we're going to need LJ to
do it — and some solid production from the bench.
to the beginning of the game.
course what we all wanted to see was Kamila getting her Championship
ring, finally, and a chance to see her play in the Key. I'll
be honest — I got a little choked up when Kamila came
out for the pregame shoot around and then when the Storm held
her ring ceremony. Befitting her original Storm player status,
she got the best reception of the three former Stormies this
season. There were numerous Kamila signs in the stands. People
kept yelling out "Kamila we love you" during the
warmups. She got cheers after every shot she hit, regardless
of what that shot meant to the Storm's lead — something
that I don't think has really ever happened before even for
other former Storm players. Kamila was the rock, the foundation
the Storm was built on and I hope she felt our appreciation
throughout the game.
it was Fan Appreciation night, the Storm did something a little
different for the team's entrance. They did their normal tunnel
huddle and then went up stairs and entered from the concourse
level, all carrying signs which they handed out to fans as
they made their way down to the court. I thought that it was
a nice way to get the players into the stands without them
getting swamped — the move caught most everyone off
guard so it was kind of a surprise for many people to look
up and see their favorite Storm player trotting down the stairs
the game, they all took turns at the mic and spoke a few words
to the crowd. They all again had signs written "from
them" which they signed and handed out to the fans as
they left the court, along with shoes and a couple jerseys.
highlight of the postgame speeches had to be David Locke announcing
that Coach Donovan had signed a new multi-year deal with the
Storm. Besides that begin great news on its own, I thought
it to be a great way to end the regular season. The fans are
secure in knowing we'll continue forward with the best coach
in the league AND the whole contract negotiation thing, which
always seems to get drawn out and is a distraction is done,
decided and signed. After David made the announcement, Coach
Donovan slid over and said something to LJ. I would pay real
money to know what she said. I hope it was something like,
"I signed a multi-year deal. Now it's your turn,"
or "You said you would if I did, now it's your turn."
Crazy Mercury fan fantasies of having LJ on their team aside
(I guess so they can collect all the Aussies or something),
we need LJ to sign more than a one-year deal. This is her
team. This is her home. Let's sign the deal.
season long, my mantra has been that as long as the Storm
make the playoffs, I think things are going to be just fine.
Get to the playoffs and anything can happen. Someone on a
fellow website made a point that I had been thinking over
for the last couple weeks but hadn't yet brought up — the
Storm are peaking right now. They have finally gotten things
to work and are on a confidence roll. Minus a few unforced
turnovers and getting a few more rebounds, and the Storm are
playing as strong a game of basketball as they were any time
last year. At the same time, the other power teams in the
league have been stumbling lately — losing at home,
losing to sub-500 teams, suffering injuries to key players.
I think the Storm is the team no one wants to play right now.
You know that this team is driven to prove that last year
wasn't a fluke and that the Championship is something that
will have to be taken from them.
playoff time. Game ****ing on.
Seahawks' drum line group performed twice tonight. I LOVED
it. They were really into it and got the crowd pumped big
time. I know many people don't like the college band feel
of groups like this drum line, but I wouldn't mind seeing
something like this for the Storm on a more regular basis.
I wouldn't use them every game, but for the big games definitely.
dunking ushers were back and were doing their thing at the
basket in front of the Storm bench which meant that I got
tons of great pictures of them in action. This time, they
brought out fans to give it a try and most had the kind of
success you would expect from non-gymnasts (let's face it,
these people aren't really ushers). One "fan" launched
himself so high he did a face plant on the backboard. I think
he was a ringer, but it was funny and shocking nonetheless.
Russell — basketball diety and 11-time NBA champion
— was sitting at center court once again. He got
noticed this a couple of games ago and Angie pointed it out
to me as well tonight — John Curley throws his kids
into the air every time the Storm do something great. It looks
like he alternates kids so that they both get some air time.
upper bowl was open on the west side, so they moved the giant
Sue "Bring It" poster to the east site. The upper
bowl sections looked pretty full from our vantage point. One
lucky person up top won playoff tickets. Sometimes it pays
to sit in the nose bleed seats.
the postgame speeches, Suzy mentioned that when she first
got here, we "intimidated" her. I take partial responsibility
for that. I made her jump tonight during one tirade against
the refs after they called a travel on Janell in the second
half. This after missing several Mercury travel violations
in the game leading up to the one they called against the
Storm, including what seemed to be the most outrageous example
of traveling I've ever seen not get called. I'll be reviewing
the TiVo to be sure, but it looked like a Mercury player had
the ball, had picked up her dribble, then jumped in the air
and came back down with the ball never leaving her hands,
and then moved with the ball. Believe me when I say that KeyArena
was howling after that one.
Forum member made up 3500 yellow MVP signs and distributed
them to people as they entered the arena. They looked great
spread out over the whole crowd. Good initiative and great