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6/28/06 at Los Angeles

Final score: Storm 75 – Sparks 67 (W) (9-8)

Attendance | 6774

Submitted by | NewSocks

Got to Staples Center early as usual. Went into FSGrill and met up with “Lucky” and gave her some beads in Sparks colors that I had and an old Sparks patch that I found in some boxes when packing. It’s kind of cool that she watches the door for me when the Storm are playing. She got all teary when I gave her that stuff and we talked about our teams. She is a pretty cool lady. I call her Lucky because she is on oxygen, in a wheel chair and goes outside and smokes. Lucky because she hasn’t blown herself up yet.

Ok, enough of the schmoopy stuff.

I looked at the team warming up on the court and did a quick survey. No LJ. #$@$%!! I felt my heart sink. Mostly because she is my all-time favorite player, but because at that point I didn’t like the teams chances against a stronger, more rallied, home court playing, winning streak owning Sparks team. I just hoped it wouldn’t be a blowout. BT had a shin wrap on her shin a-la LJ and while stretching, I noticed there wasn’t much talking between the team.

I’ll never doubt this team’s ability again.

Mobility isn’t in my cards right now, but I was able to make it over to the tunnel before Sue got there. I was on the opposite side of the autograph clump of people so when she came over to sign my WCC hat, I had her to myself. So I said, “Eighteen points last night, Sue. How’d that feel?” She got a big ass grin on her face and said it was awesome. I said, “Feels like home cooking… sleeping in your own bed… warm cookies…new sock and shoes?” She cracked up and said, “ohhhh yeah. It felt like that.” I told her to keep up the good work and let it all come to her. I asked her about LJ. She got a sad look on her face and said, “She’s sick.” I asked her if it was the shins and she nodded.

BT came by and signed the hat. I said, “SEVEN assists last night!! Nice game.” Big ole smile out of her. “I’m trying!” I told her to keep doing what she’s been doing and that we appreciate her being here this season.

Wedgie and Cisti came by next. None of the autograph people on the other side asked for them to sign anything. So they stopped on my side and talked to me. Wedgie said she was excited to play this game tonight. Happy that France got through in the WC. I told Cisti she had a good game against San Antonio and praised her for the fortitude she showed on going back in there against Feenstra and fighting to get that shot off after getting blocked…over and over. Wedgie laughed and nudged her. (Must have taken some ribbing over that event already or something) Cisti just shook her head and smiled. “She’s tough. She was pissed and didn’t want me scoring on her apparently.”

Izzy came by and was all smiles. I asked her about Brazil in the WC. She went on and on about how great they were doing. It was pretty funny.

Missy B came by and I asked her about LJ. Not only not playing, but didn’t even travel with the team. L

Janel came by and signed the hat. I said, “Looks like you have some extra work to do tonight.” She looked up and said, “ohhhh yeah. It’s gonna be tough in th… HEY! You’re wearing my jersey! That’s so cool. Thank you.” I told her I’ve worn it for 3 seasons now and she was all happy. I told her it was all about the black socks and she just laughed. “I like black socks.” Yeah, me too JB. I told her (who knew this was a foreshadow) “just get LL to foul out the first 30 seconds of the game and the rest will be cake.” JB said, “Great idea” but you could tell she knew she was going into a brutal battle.

Betty came by, but it was late and she couldn’t sign anything. She said to stay there and she would get us on the way back.

There were some nice fans around us. Actually, much to my surprise, it was the most pleasant experience we have had as far as Sparks fan interaction in the whole time I have been going to games. Our only negative event was when some chick was coming down the stairs in our aisle. DS had his LJ away game jersey on and this lady was going by and said *cough*Jackson sucks*cough* and did it twice. DS just looked at her like yeah, whatever. She said to DS, “oh dude come on, lighten up.” He said “No, I’m fine. I just never saw someone drop their class right in front of me before.”

The Sparks have some weird ass warm up methods. Most teams stay on their side of the court, but it looked like a few times they came over onto the Storm side of the court and was just getting in the way.

Holdsclaw never seems to get the memo on what clothes to wear for warm-ups. This is the second time I’ve seen her in so many games that she has come out with different warm ups than the rest of the team.

Looking over to press row I spy Jayda Evans looking quite stylish in a sweet jacket. Very chic!

Looking down on radio row I notice there is no David Locke. Elise and Dick will be doing the play by play and I really wish I could hear their calls.

So they are testing the horns in the arena and the 24 second clock sounds like a cow with a cold. I mean really, what the hell is that?

The second horn, the game horn comes right after it and sounds like the first horn after the cow cleared its throat..

Moore and Holdsclaw play some weird warm-up game where they flick the ball back and forth at each other and not let the ball hit the ground. That part I understand. What I don’t understand is Holdsclaw doing some freaky ballet move in between. I mean if something in this building is unnatural, this is it. Maybe it was the extreme uncoordination… I dunno.

Looking around, this place is EMPTY.. Even for the typical “arrive fashionably late” LA crowd.

DS goes up to the concourse to get some food. He notices (in his words) this big black dude that is the size of a house that is all muscles and a head. DS sees this guy eyeballing him and finally the guy says to DS, “hey come over here.” DS said he thought to himself, “oh man, this is gonna hurt” but went over anyway. He said the guy reached forward towards DS’ chest and DS reached up and grabbed the guys arm. The guy said, “chill dude, I’m just checking out Lauren Jackson’s jersey. Where did you get this jersey, man? After DS exhaled, he got into a conversation with the guy for about 15 mins about women’s play and the quality of the game. Big Storm fan. Tried many times to talk DS out of the jersey. Luckily for him, DS came back with the jersey still on.

Birdy got the big cheer in the intros. There was no booing during the intros. First time that I can remember.

Ok, then came the intros for the Sparks. Good music and stuff. But. Then…well the intro film showed the players playing ball, then the players smiling, waving etc., and the players dancing was…ok… until they got to LL. I’m not too certain what it was she was doing. Kind of looked like someone had dropped ice cubes in her jersey. Scary stuff.

Oh yeah, and everything was synced to the music. The last thing they showed was the “dunk”. The last note of the music was a BOOM and some how through the marvels of modern technology, they made the “dunk” look like a SLAM dunk. I think they sped up the film clip or something. No way that ball went down that hard. Hell, it barely rolled over the rim.

Ok. Game Time.

LA wins the tip and goes down and sets up a play. Mabika goes to take a jump shot and Betty comes out of no where to block it. Very nice.

LA scores first, but it wasn’t an easy basket. They shoot like 3 or 4 more times but they aren’t easy looks. Defense is tight. If this keeps up and we play offense, we are going to make this an interesting game.

LA scores again on an LL lay-up. Birdy answers with a 3 and gets the monkey off her back.

JB is fighting hard under the basket for offensive position and is constantly open. Pass the ball into the paint for cripes sake!

LL b*tch slaps JB and draws LL’s first foul. Nice. That one only took about 3 minutes. WTG, JB!

The defense is great so far. Lots of help, good anticipation and everyone is playing D. My throat already hurts from yelling.

I just realized that Holdsclaw didn’t start this game.

Offense is running the plays all the way through. Nice crisp passing. No lazy passes. Betty for 3.

Storm lead at the 5 minute mark 9-8. I’m floored as to what has happened so far. I thought we would be on the spank by this point, but here we are. I’m starting to get that good feeling.

Izzy is playing like the Izzy of old. The driving to the lane, the disruptive defense, the super hustle player we know is trapped in that body. Izzy pushes the tempo and drives the lane and nails a pull up jumper. Beautiful!

The Sparks come down the court on a beautiful fast break. Incredible. The lay-up was missed by someone and ended up in an incredible scrum under the basket in which I’m positive some unwanted groping, a couple of kidney punches, plans for dinner after the game and a couple of phone number exchanges took place. When it was all over LL was riding J. B’s back like a piggy back and JB gets called for over the back! HTF does that happen?

Next offensive play down the floor, LL throws JB to the ground and gets called for her 2nd foul. Ohhhhyeahbaby!

LL is playing like someone left the toilet seat up one too many times. Kind of b*tchy. Lots of elbows, standard, but a lot of pulling and slapping.

Cisti gets into the game. Wow! Anne D is using the entire bench. It seems like sub after sub after sub. But it’s working. Cisti goes up for her first points of her WNBA career. Ugh! Stuffed again. But wait! It was a foul.

Cisti makes her free throws and she can go down in infamy as scoring in the Dubya.

Cisti is moving bodies under the bucket positioning for rebounds. Damn, what did these girls eat for breakfast?!

During the timeout, they play a video on the jumbotron and I learn that they have a fan award program. It’s called Home Court Advantage. They offer all kinds of stuff. Damn, it really makes me miss the Hustle Rewards. It’s a points program, you get 15,000 for signing up and 5,000 when you go to special events. You take your points and use them at the HCAvantage store. Some of the things they offered in the store was Autographed merchandise, 5 day all inclusive cruises, courtside seats and passes to the chairman’s room, play a game of horse with your favorite Sparks player, take a picture with the team, assistant coach for a game, ball kid for a game and more. Plus they have the instant rewards that are random.

Izzy was pretty much the difference in the 1st quarter. 4 points, but it was the hustle that pushed the team.

Ok during the next time out, they have the fan cam and they are putting people or groups that are dancing on the jumbotron. There is a group of people dancing in the row behind me so I stand up, grab my Storm finger and begin to move in their direction. Timing is everything and just as they get on the big screen the finger goes up and you see both them and the Storm finger on the screen. Ahhh, sweet delight.

Izzy, Izzy, Izzy. Something good must have happened to Izzy today. She is playing like she hasn’t played all season. Froggy, driving hard, super hustle.

DS has my Storm monkey propped up in the chair in front of him and he is sitting on the aisle. This old lady comes up the stairs and walks up to him and asks him if she can touch his monkey. He looks at me and of course I now have no say in his decisions, so I just shrug. He says to her, you really want to touch my monkey? “She says I really want to spank your monkey.” DS looks shocked and yells, “Security!” They both laugh and the lady continues on. Only in L.A

Holdsclaw doesn’t make her entry into the game until the 2 minutes left in the first quarter. Strange.

2nd Quarter. We are leading still and have had the lead since LA lead at 13-11 (last time they would have it). I am expecting the team to come out and a little slower or a little out of sorts.. But they don’t. They come out hard.

Passion is the best word I can think of. PASSION, Baby!!

Betty steals the ball from LL and LL proceeds to go down and commits the frustration foul against BT.

Lawd almighty! That’s 3. WOOT!

Holy crap, on the next drive down to our end of the floor, BT commits a foul on Mabika and Mabika takes a cheap shove at BT and no foul was called on that one. Anne D gives Jeff the ref an earful.

LL must have been pretty pissed still because 9 seconds after her 3rd foul, she commits her 4th on an offensive foul. (Ok, to be honest, this probably wasn’t a foul, lol. In fact, it wasn’t. a foul at all. I actually thought they were going to ring JB up for this one so when they came out of the pack with 9 fingers, I told DS, Ohhhhh we just got a real break there)

During the time out, it was Sue and BT that were in the ears of the players and pumping up the team while the coaches had their huddle. Nice animated huddle.

Zone D still going well and even though there are some gaps, the bench is talking to the players on the floor and there is great help coverage going on. Offense is running through the entire play. Not just someone getting the ball in their hands and shooting. (See how nicely that works, BL?)

Izzy gets drilled like three times in the head while trying to get through the paint but that didn’t stop her from diving into the scrum on the floor.

We are getting down to about 2 minutes and either we are tired or all of this is just too good to be true because we are starting to fall apart. Dumb turnovers, missed assignments, auuuuuughhh. Don’t let them make a run!!

Coming down the floor coach is calling the play. Betty gets the ball and the play doesn’t come to completion. Betty shoots, and misses and Coach D gets pissed. Coach makes a substitution for Betty and Betty is grumbling as she is coming off the floor. She passes Coach and says something, Coach says something back and when Betty comes and sits down, she is still yapping. Coach folds her lengthy self down in front of Betty and is talking to her and getting quite animated. Finally, you can read her lips as she says, “that’s enough!!”

Apparently, we have a couple of fouls to give at the end of the half to keep them from easy lay-ups and Sue picks up 2 fouls in 10 seconds.

Then we get the ball and pass pass pass pass pass and the 24 second clock goes off. UGH!!

Halftime.

If we start the third the same way we ended the 2nd, we are in deep kimchee.

I continue my tradition of bringing an extra foam finger to the game and giving it away to a Storm fan who is cheering for the team but has no Storm stuff. I meet a nice couple who are big UCONN fans and came to see Sue, BT and Jess Moore. They were so cute during the game because every time something good would happen for us I would hoot it up nice and loud and they would turn around and pump their fists in celebration. They liked the synchronization that DS and I had with the fingers. Anyway, I’m going to have to order more fingers now because I’m down to only 2 and one has a safety pin in it because this game got so stressful at the end I put my hand through yet another foam finger.

By the look on Coach’s face going into the locker room at halftime, it was no wonder that the team came out of the tunnel super late. Like there was only 2:30 left before the next quarter started.

I tell you what, the first half was all heart and passion. I hope they have some left in the tank. We are gonna need it.

The PA announcer calls out the Storm players by first and last names. He announces the Sparks by first name only. It sounded so lame. I suppose this is Hollywood after all.

FIFTY-FIVE SECONDS into the 3rd quarter, LL is called for the offensive foul. Holy Schiznit!! I mean really! HOLY CRAP!! Whooooooohooooooo!! Now, this foul was called and LL came running over to the ref like she had found the toilet seat culprit. She got right up in the refs grill and was arguing vehemently. How she didn’t get a T at that point I cant imagine. THEN she wouldn’t give the ball to the ref, and when the ref wasn’t budging on the call, LL took the ball with her to the bench and made the motion like she was going to slam it down, but finally just put it down on the ground. All this drama and all she got was a stupid delay of game warning. If the refs would have looked into the stands they would have seen that DS had already used the FF’s to T her up. It was so deserving of the T!!

Next play Mabika shoved BT again and coach was going crazy on the ref.

Ok, Betty has now unloaded for 14 points and she has been a team player so far.. But here comes Betty Ball Hog. Before anyone crawls up my ass to defend Betty, let me tell you this. Yes, she was going off, and yes, she did score an assload of points. But she didn’t win this game. In fact, I believe she almost lost this game for us. Here’s why. When Betty’s shot starts to fall, which it did during this game, she stops passing. She stops playing defense because she is looking for her shot. The Sparks made their run and it was usually the player that BL was supposed to be guarding who was either setting up other players, or shooting the shots themselves.

BL stopped rotating on offense. She stopped moving, she is just getting to her “spot” and holding her hands up to get a pass.

My heart is pounding now. I’m starting to see things unfold for the bad. Defense is starting to falter. Betty lets Tamika Johnson go right by her and Sue has to come over and commit the foul to prevent the easy bucket. Sue has to sit on the bench.

Now, something weird happens. During this time Sue is on the bench, not only do we hold our own we go on a run. Here we are with basically our third string in and we are kicking some butt in there. If nothing else, if we lose at this point, this run in the 3rd at Staples Center will give the bench a boost.

TJ is doing some tough work underneath. Cisti has been a rebounding monster. BT is aggressive, Shawn is making thing hard for the Sparks. And then there is Wedgie. She is fast. I don’t think LA was expecting her to be that aggressive.

Ok, after that run and hold, I am breathing a lot easier.

Ugh, hold that thought. The zone is failing again. We need a timeout.

TJ (Sparks) is knocked down while driving the lane, no foul. She gets up and races down the court and on her way back down for defense pops T with a cheap shot that the refs don’t see.

By this point, I’m getting a cramp in my text messaging thumb, lol. *wink*

Did you ever notice that when the players come out, and they aren’t happy when they get pulled from the game they go down the bench slapping hands and somehow the hardest slap is the last one? Poor Anne Marie!

Tiffani Johnson is moving that butt of hers to clear major space in the paint. Work thatass, girl.

Ok. Now T Wright needs to stop something and stop it soon. When she makes up her mind to go into the paint or make a shot she needs to just do it. She has got this little fakey thing going on. Most of the time, people are falling for the fakey, but she should pay attention to the player, because she isn’t thinking they are going to buy it and she ends up doing a herkie jerkie time wasting move. And for crying in the sink, don’t do the fakey every time. That’s lame. That’s the whole point of a fakey in the first place.

Christie Thomas dealt a nasty foul on Betty. Betty doesn’t look too pleased about it, lol.

Wedgie nails a 3 pointer which you can feel the air deflate from the building. Yeah Wedgie!!

Ok. 4th quarter. 60-45.

We are up by 15. It’s not enough. This is L.A. We are in LA. We are doing ok, but we have no LJ.

Betty starts off the 4th with a really bad pass. Anne is not happy and is shaking her head. Anne actually spends most of this 4th quarter switching between shaking her head and wringing her hands in frustration over Betty’s play, to clapping for a shot that she made.

Every Sparks foul comes with some lip service to the refs. It’s getting old.

You know someone is going to go off in the 4th for LA. They always do.

Muriel Page hit’s a jumper. 60-47. Ugh, it’s not enough.

Betty answers with a jumper. 62-47. 15 points is not enough.

Another bad BL pass and thankfully they don’t score off of it.

8 minutes left and while this is going to sound like I’m ripping, I’m not. It becomes amplified, and apparent that Betty wants to take over and has every intention of doing so. But at what cost. She has stopped playing defense. She is driving into the lane and taking shots she should have passed. She gets blocked on a shot and there are 3 players open. I’m starting to panic because LA is figuring this out about the same time I am. No rotation on offense. All she is doing is standing there on offense waiting for someone to pass her the ball. She goes in again and gets her shot blocked again. Shoot miss. No pass. Come on Betty!!!

LL comes back in and comes down the floor for a really nice reverse lay-up. 62-49

7:30 left. A fricken eternity!

Every tick of the clock seems to take 30 seconds.
People shooting, no one’s hitting. That’s ok. Time’sticking off the clock.

Betty driving the lane. Come on Betty… YES!! 64-49

6:30 left Bird gets subbed out for Wedgie.

I don’t feel so good.

The Spark Kids come out with white towels for their routine. DS looks at me and said now THAT’S a good sign.

In the middle of my feeling like I’m gonna hurl we get informed we won the post game autograph session for our section. Don’t tell me this stuff right now, I. DON’T. CARE.

Claw comes right out of the timeout and hit’s a jumper 68-53.

Oh God, I cant breathe.

Anne not pleased and takes Betty out. Betty not pleased. Hell, I’m not pleased. Even the monkey looks worried.

Holdsclaw again. 68-55. 13 points. It’s not enough. I must’ve asked DS half a dozen times what is the point spread, what’s the point spread?

He passed out 2 jump shots ago.

Hodges-Lewis nails one almost uncontested. Pissy Anne calls a 20! 68-57.

I use my fingers and figure that’s only 9. I feel my eyes begin to burn.

The team takes forever to come out of the time out and has to be called by the refs 3 times. I’m fearing the technical.

We come out and run a play. TJ throws one out to Birdy and she hit’s the shot .. AND ONE MF’r.!!

I order up a defibulator.

4:01 to go.

My phone is going crazy. I misspell every word possible in my last text message.

71-57. For some reason that score looks better with a 7 and a 5. I’m fooling myself.

BT drives in and makes a lay-up. 3:15 left 73-57

It’s tough in the paint and LL comes out whining and showing the refs her arms. The refs stop a jump ball to go over to JB and tell her something about LL. JB rolls her eyes shakes her hands like “WHATEVER, LET’S GO!!

Betty fouls Tamara Moore who hits both FT’s 73-61 2:55 left. Too much time

I can’t breathe.

TJ misses a shot and Claw gets the rebound passes it to Page who misses the shot.
2:21 left and I wonder if my will is up to date.
Someone rebound for crying out loud!

Betty finally rebounds and the play runs and runs and runs and the shot clock winds down to 3 and Birdy lets one go…. A miss. But flying in for the rebound is JB! OH GOD!

We take another 20 seconds off the clock and they get TJ for traveling. 1:30 left.

Sparks ball. Holdclaw, who can kill a team by herself has the ball and lets one fly. Missed. Birdy flies in for the rebound (sorry). We run the clock again and I remember to exhale. Birdy shoots and misses and LL gets it and runs down for a shot and misses and Claw rebounds and shoots and misses LL gets the rebound and shoots and JB clocks her but good.

LL makes both of her free throws and its only a 10 point lead.

Storm ball. Betty comes down and tries to shoot immediately. Coach pops T off the bench to go sub Betty. I think she has had just enough. The only problem is is that Betty got fouled and is at the line. T cant go in.

Betty makes her FT’s

I think I lose my bodily functions, but I just spilled part of my soda.

Turnover, we get the ball again, time is winding down and Betty is trying to drive the paint again, slams into the trees, travels, no call, she tries again, same thing, travels even worse, the whole place is going crazy and the refs finally call jump ball. JUMP BALL??

Anne D is shaking her head.

Jump ball. Moore scores.

Game over.

After the game, I make it to the tunnel as the players are coming off and get some high 5’s but the best part was seeing the coaching staff waiting for them at the tunnel entrance for the players. They didn’t go to the locker room, they were waiting, and they were GIDDY, YELLING Whoohoos for their hard working players. They were stoked!! It was awesome to see.

We went to the autograph session afterwards. I talked with Sic-ko and watched as she freaked Jessica Moore out by putting an old UCONN magazine in front of her. Holdsclaw made fun of her.

Said hi to Dick and Elise on the way out, they were still buzzing from the win.

Some old dude handed me media guides from both teams because he “didn’t feel like throwing them away”

Sorry this took so long to submit.

I could explain it to you, but NOT giving you the details was part of the deal I struck with the Deputy District Attorney.