Playoffs, First Round
score: Storm 84 Sparks 72 (W) (1-0)
Watch | Pat Wright, 'nuff said.
Psyche | We can do this.
Highlight | LJ stuffing LLL back into last
week, Izi steal and pass ahead to LJ for a basket and 1, Izi
with a late 4th quarter three-point monster basket, Sue with
a huge first half, TJ with a big third quarter — take
| Russian strength dudes — impressive,
but a little creepy too.
Keyword of the Game | Loud — vibrate
the concrete floor kind of loud.
fun to win. It's fun to beat LA. It's fun to watch The Diva
make her "I'm the Diva, why are you calling me for fouls"
face over and over and over again. It's fun to have the fans
be so loud that the building itself vibrates.
also fun to be the only lower seeded team in the playoffs
to win the first game of their first round series.
all wanted this 1 vs 4 match-up in the first round of the
playoffs. Sometimes, you have to be careful what you wish
for. Tonight, it was almost like Coach Donovan was lighting
up a cigar and saying, "I love it when a plan comes together."
of Seattle (well, inside too if you read the Times' Sparks
in 3 prediction), the Sparks are the heavy favorites. Thankfully,
the Storm aren't paying much attention to what everyone is
saying or predicting. The team looked as confident out there
as they have against any opponent. They certainly weren't
playing like huge underdogs.
think this was most apparent through the third quarter lull.
Maybe the team needs to try a new Gatorade flavor or something
in the locker room at halftime, because whatever they're drinking
now is making them move at about half speed to start the third
quarter. The Sparks came out much more aggressive and fairly
quickly took control of the game and built a 5 point lead
(I could have sworn it was as much as 7, but the box score
lists 5 as the largest Spark lead). The Storm didn't break
down, lose their focus or start getting sloppy with the ball.
They kept their heads and whittled the lead down to 2 at the
end of the quarter. Tiffani Johnson came up big and helped
lead a 7-0 run while LJ was on the bench.
Storm took complete control of the fourth quarter and, buoyed
by the psychotic KeyArena crowd, took the game going away.
they were able to adjust to their normal third quarter fade
and keep the Sparks in reach, the Storm were able to play
with a more focused and efficient energy instead of a panicky
energy that, as we've seen too many times this season, usually
leads to bad shots, turnovers and bigger leads by the opponent.
focus and efficiency was clear in how few turnovers the Storm
had and how many turnovers they were able to force on the
Sparks. The Storm had 8 turnovers and 7 steals. Add that to
22 assists and you have a team that is executing their offense
well and protecting the ball.
worrisome elements of the game were rebounding and minimal
production from Betty, Izi or the bench (not counting TJ).
there was one element of the game that the Sparks totally
dominated, it was rebounds. They had an amazing 17 offensive
rebounds. That cannot be allowed to continue if the Storm
hope to win at LA. We are also going to have to get more out
of Izi, Betty and Barbara. I remember looking up at the scoreboard
in the late third/early fourth quarters, seeing goose eggs
for Izi and Barb and thinking that we aren't going to win
without them doing something quick. Izi came through at the
end with a three and some free throws, but she needs to be
much more active earlier in the game.
came limping off late in the game and stayed on the bench
through the stretch. She was mostly ineffective through the
game although she did hit a couple baskets. She did most of
her damage by getting the ball to other players, racking up
7 assists. I think Betty has to acknowledge that her injuries
— knee and wrist — are limiting her ability
to drive and to control the ball. When she does a one- or
two-step drive, stops and shoots a mid-range jump shot, she
does just fine. It's when she takes that third or fourth step
that she gets into trouble. Her defenders are able to crowd
her and either strip the ball or force her into a bad pass
or shot. Her offensive efficiency drops dramatically with
each step she takes on a drive. I hope that she and/or the
coaches are finally recognizing this and that she can more
readily adapt her game to fit her injuries. Right now, she
can't play normal Betty Ball™.
last thing the Storm need to prepare for on Sunday is that
they won't be getting the calls and the disparity in free
throws will be favoring the Sparks. Tonight, the Sparks were
fouling and getting called for it. I don't expect them to
get called for half of what they did tonight and the Storm
will need to adapt and find a way to fight through that.
good news is that this season's Storm team is as good or better
on the road than they are at home. They will need to play
a more consistent defensive game in LA than they did here
tonight in order to win, but I think they can certainly do
that. The biggest thing for Game 2 will be to not let the
Sparks build too big a lead. If the Storm can keep the game
in single digits at the end of the third quarter, I like our
chances to take Game 2 and sweep the Sparks.
we can all light up cigars and be happy that the plan came
Edwards and Jamie Redd were sitting courtside with Karen Bryant.
Simone helped Doppler throw t-shirts and she danced with the
kids during a timeout. Jamie looked a little uncomfortable
and didn't really get into any of it.
perpetual bench warmer and player most in need of a hair makeover
Robert Swift was at the game... for about 5 minutes. He and
his little entourage (of 2) were there long enough to sit
in the first row and get mentioned on the big screen. He pretty
quickly got up and left. Maybe one of his publicists should
take notes from Petro's publicist about how her client should
act in public.
(deal pending ) owner Clay Bennett was supposedly at the game.
I didn't seem him in the stands, so he might have been in
a suite. I remember reading someplace that he or the other
OKC boys criticized Howard for sitting in the front row and
being all visible like. Say what you will about Howard (and
I've said plenty), but he definitely got into the games he
have to get a decibel meter. It was damn loud in there tonight.
I need to start recording how loud.
with the multiple "Aussie, Oi" chants from competing
sections. Doing it 5 times doesn't make it 5 times better.
and Wendy won the Stormy award for their movie clip and were
very funny in their "acceptance" speeches. The movie
clips and this little fan vote thing were yet more great ideas
this season. Whoever came up with them needs a raise (and
needs to still have a job in Seattle for years to come).