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5/25/06 at Phoenix

Final score: Storm 94 – Mercury 81 (W) (2-1)

Attendance | 10401

Submitted by | Bloodnfire

First I have to say, LAUREN!!!!!!!!!! (More on this later).

Pre-game: We had dinner at “Coopers-town”. The rocker Alice Cooper has put together a pretty fun sports bar! However, the makeup all the wait staff is required to wear is frightening. The place was packed, everyone getting pumped for the big game. If you are ever in this area and want to catch a game on TV…go to Cooperstown. Big screens everywhere.

The basics:

Give away: It was the home opener for the Mercury, and Diana Tarausi jersey night. Fans lined up all over the place before the game, hoping to be one of the first 5000 fans.

Early scare: We walked into the stadium to see Brian Enterline stretching. This is never a good sign. But as you all know by now, nothing (not even Brian Enterline) was going to stop LJ tonight.

Crowd: The attendance was listed at 10,401, but where were all those peeps? It was a decent crowd, just didn’t seem that big. They do have two levels of suites, however, and almost all suites appeared to be occupied. Maybe that was where the peeps were. Those who were in the stands seemed like they wanted to be enthusiastic, but Lauren kept them seated most of the night (more on that later, hee hee).

“Best Fans in the WNBA”. The announcer told this lie to the crowd several times. I’m sure they like to hear that, even though we know it isn’t true.

Anthem: Bethany Wright did a fine job. This young lady has perfect teeth.

Hip Hop Squad: The Mercury has two versions, the main squad, and a Jr. Hip Hop Squad. The main squad was essential like our squad, only with better outfits. The Jr. squad was cute as can be. Think Lamonte (wasn’t that his name?) in the early years.

Ushers: The Mercury employ very seasoned ushers, and they are adorable. Our usher was asking GreenGirl about her camera because he is getting ready to go back to his 65th high school reunion, and wanted to get a camera before the trip. Do the math on that one! Like I said, seasoned.

Stadium: No lines in the women’s bathroom!!!! Ahh, that was nice.

Halftime entertainment: Casino Arizona presents…a Madonna impersonator. The likeness was actually pretty amazing. Fairly entertaining, and the kids loved her.

Time-out entertainment: OK, they did some FUN stuff! First, they had a Frisbee toss into inflatable swimming pools. That was fun. But my favorite was what I called the “Hamster Race”. They had 2 people inside these huge inflatable balls (one person per ball, 2 balls), like hamsters in exercise balls. They had to race up and down the court in those things. Anyone remember The American Gladiators? (OK, come on, admit it!). Well, the “Hamster Race” was sort of like one of the American Gladiator events. Very fun.

About the Mercury:

Tamicha Jackson is fast. Very VERY fast. I mean, our Izzy is fast, but put them in a foot race, and my money is on TJ. But what the heck was up with her hair?? Some sort of mohawk mess. All that hair product did nothing to slow the girl down.

Kamila Vodichkova, we miss you. KV looked great, but didn’t have an outstanding game, with only 7 points and 5 boards.

Taurasi always amazes me with her shooting ability. She was bombs away, and lights out. I could do without the incessant whining, however. She thought she got hit on every shot. I loved when she got her Tech. After an incredibly ugly reverse lay-up attempt and no call from the ref, she jawed the entire way down the court. What I loved the most was that right after the T, someone behind me screamed, “Hey #57 (the ref), are you from CALIFORNIA or something?”. I’m not sure I understood the comment, but my guess is that the fan thinks Seattle is in California. Did I mention that they sell really big beers at the Mercury stadium (they call them “Tankers”)?

Cappie Pondexter is the real deal. In a word, amazing. Along with Taurasi, the Mercury now have a formidable 1-2 punch. Cappy is quick, can shoot from anywhere, and has some sweet one-on-one moves. She has all-star written all over her. Mercury fans have something besides DT to look forward to.

Remember Mandisa Stevenson? She was in street clothes on the Mercury bench. They have 13 players listed on their roster, so I think Mandisa is on the bubble again.


About the Storm:

LAUREN!!!!!

JB- Welcome back to the starting lineup. Now put your purse down, and practice your free throws! 2 for 8 is inexcusable. Gotta hit the freebies. But 14 points and 6 boards in her first game back, I’ll take it.

Shaun Gortman has springs. She (5’10”) out-jumped Kristen Rasmussen (6’2”), and it didn’t even look like a challenge. I like what I see from her.

T-Wright got 20 minutes of PT, and had a few “Wow” moments. She is playing with a lot of confidence.

I (heart) Wendy Palmer. It was strange to see the pony-tail replace the pig-tails.

Sue and Betty – both seemed relatively quiet this game. A couple of observations: Birdy with 6 assists, and Betty hit 50% from the field. Do that again, Betty.


About the game:

A little back-and-forth at the start of the game, but after that, it was all Storm! Once we decided to focus on our inside game, it was all over. We pounded the ball inside all night long, and got easy bucket after easy bucket. The Mercury had no answer.

Stat of the night was Points in the Paint: Storm 54, Mercury 18.

We KILLED them on the boards too: Storm 43, Mercury 24.

I love it when the Storm focuses on the inside game. Don’t get me wrong, I love a 3-bomb as much as the next girl, but it just seems like we live (and die) on the perimeter too often. We have the best inside player on the planet…get the ball to her! Our bigs were amazing tonight. It was the LJ show no doubt, but Palmer and JB also got some really easy looks. The Storm are pretty tough to beat when they take it to the hole.

The most disappointing play of the night for me was when we had a 3-on-1 fast break, and we settled for a 10-foot jumper. Come on. That HAS to be a lay-up. Be aggressive!

Is it time to talk about LJ yet? You bet.

Before the game, the conversation behind me went something like this:
“Who does the Storm have on their team?”
“Sue Bird. I think they have someone else too”
“Oh, don’t they have that gal who won the MVP a couple years ago, what is her name?”
“Oh yeah, I think so. I can’t remember her name”.
I turned around to participate at this point, “Are you thinking of Lauren Jackson”?
“Yeah, I think that’s her name”.

Let’s just say, I think they know who LJ is now!!! LJ punished the Mercury all night long, with easy points in the paint. And 9 for 9 from the charity stripe. Good for you, LJ. At one point in the game, the same peeps behind me dejectedly said, “that gal might score 50 points tonight”. (she had 19 at the time). Phoenix simply could not stop her.

We knew LJ was on fire, but were surprised to see her come back into the game in the 4th quarter, with victory most certainly out of reach for the Mercury. TV viewers probably knew that LJ was close to breaking her WNBA career scoring personal best, but we had no idea. We didn’t find out until one of the media crew told us after the game was over. 35 points and 9 boards in 26 minutes. AWESOME.

We also were unaware that they were 1 point away from tying the franchise high for points scored, but ended the game on a 4-minute scoring drought. I guess I shouldn’t have joked about free Chilupas with 5 minutes remaining.

In summary…what a great game to attend! We enjoyed every minute.