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September 1, 2005 vs. Houston Comets

2005 Playoffs, First Round

Final score: Storm 64 – Comets 67 (L) (1-1)

Attendance | 8466

Anthem Watch | If you didn't have goosebumps after that, there's something wrong with you.

Fan Psyche | It was Roy. That's all you need to know about the fans' psyche.

Game Highlight | Izzy coming back in after her injury.

Halftime | Unicycle cup-balancing act.

SF.O Keyword of the Game | New Refs

Game Photos

On the way home as I thought about what to write for this game, I almost convinced myself to not rail against the refs yet again. The Storm lost this game through unforced turnovers, relying on outside shooting too much especially when the inside game was working, not being aggressive enough on offense and relaxing too much on help defense. All these things together allowed the Comets to get back into the game and take the lead. I told myself that I wasn't going to pin this loss on the poor and lopsided officiating.

Then I looked at the box score.

Houston free throws: 25 out of 28.

Seattle free throws: 5 out of 5.

That means that only 3 or 4 Houston fouls all game long were shooting fouls, while at least 14 of Seattle's fouls were shooting fouls. Houston scored 20 more points at the line than Seattle did. 20. They were called for only 13 fouls the whole game. That is simply unbelievable.

It wasn't just the foul and free throw disparity that ruled this game. It was also the numerous missed travel calls on Snow, Canty and Staley. The missed 3-second calls on Snow and Phillips. The missed ball carry on Canty.

There's no way around it. Yes the Storm lost this game in large part due to their own mistakes, but the refs were also a major contributing factor. To try and pass this insane performance by the refs off as somehow normal is wrong. I hope WNBA President Donna Oreander got a good look at the game. She disappeared at half time, so who knows whether she stuck around to watch the carnage or not. It was disgraceful.

The Storm started the game off in control and attacking the Comets. LJ and Janell both got off to a good start. LJ was hitting inside and outside and Janell was in there fighting for rebounds and taking the ball right at Snow for layups. The Storm built an 11 point lead but started making mistakes that let the Comets back in. Mistakes like out of reach passes, bobbled ball handling, no offensive rebounding — as in everyone running back up the floor as soon as the shot leaves the shooter's hand instead of boxing out for the rebound — and then commiting dumb fouls on the other end. Yes, the Storm were fouling. So were the Comets. They just weren't getting called for anything.

Through the second half as the Comets slowly caught up, it seemed like the Storm were determined to keep the lead and keep the Comets at bay. Every time the Comets would get the lead back within 4, the Storm would come back and push it out to 6 or 7. All it eventually took were the free throws to add up and a couple defensive plays from the Comets for them to take the lead. Staley tied it with free throws on a questionable foul call against Sue and after a missed travel on Staley.

The killer was a steal by Swoopes on Sue that lead to an easy layup for a 3 point Comet lead. It looked like Sue was calling out the play and had her head up when Swoopes reached in and batted the ball out of Sue's hands.

The Storm had a chance to take the lead with a few seconds left. The Comets were up by 1 and Staley was inbounding the ball. She was running out of time and tried to bounce the ball off of Sue's legs. Sue stole it and tried to get it out and down the court. The Storm never seemed to get a good handle on the ball. LJ got it to Betty who stopped for a jump shot which missed. Janell got the rebound, but had the ball stripped away by Staley (I think) and had the ball go out off her hands. The Comets got the ball back, the Storm had to foul and the Comet free throws were the last scores of the game to get back to the 3 point lead.

The Storm had their chances and allowed the Comets to take control of the game. The refs also intervened too much, or not enough, and hogtied the Storm while letting the Comets do what they wanted. Add it up and it equals the first Storm home loss in 10 games.

The Storm are better than this and they know it. Swoopes or not, the Storm are the better team and I'm confident they will prevail on Saturday. I had been hoping for a win tonight for two main reasons. First, it would have been nice for LJ to rest her back for nearly a week before beginning the 2nd round against Sacramento. Second, I didn't want to fight with Bumbershoot traffic and crowds on Saturday.

That's okay — we'll all feel like partying when we leave the Key on Saturday and it just so happens that the biggest yearly party in Seattle will be going on outside the arena.

Other Notes:

Our attendance wasn't great, but it was way beyond any other game in the playoffs so far. Here's an interesting factoid — the Storm are the only team that hasn't had to resort to discounting tickets for the playoffs and we still had nearly 8500 in the Key. LA was selling tickets at half price. Detroit was selling tickets at the price for a gallon of gas. Houston was giving tickets away to hurricane victims. If there was a better argument for Seattle to get the 2006 All-Star game, 10-year anniversary or not, here it was. More than LA, Houston, Detroit, Connecticut or New York, the fans in this city came out to support their team. I hope Donna was taking note of that, too.