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7/31/07 vs Sacramento

Final score: Storm 74– Monarchs 78 (L) (13-14)

Attendance | 7568

Anthem Watch | A very nervous intern.

Fan Psyche | Please, just win a game. Please.

Game Highlight | LJ playing like a demon. Again.

Halftime | A kid's fitness contest of sorts.

SF.O Keyword of the Game | Sigh.

Game Photos | Rick | Scott E

If LJ does not win the MVP title, this game and all the others like it this season will be the reason given.

She, yet again, was playing her heart out. She was working her butt off on offense and following it up with fantastic defense. Another 30 point game against double and triple teams — very physical double and triple teams — along with 7 blocks.

What did she get in support? Zero defense on Powell. Sloppy ball handling that allowed the Monarchs to steal the ball 9 times. Zero rebounding that allowed the Monarchs to get an incredible 17 offensive rebounds. 17! Matador defense which drew fouls and put the Monarchs on the line early in the quarter.

In spite of LJ's game dominating performance, the Storm lose.

When it comes time for the MVP voting, all these losses will count heavily against LJ's chances. Yes, her individual stats are impressive and record-breaking, but is she lifting up the rest of the team? Is she making the rest of the team better? Is the rest of the team so bad that even with her spectacular play they are hardly able to maintain a .500 win loss record?

Is Lauren the best player in the league this year? Absolutely. Is the Storm's apathetic play torpedoing not only their own chances for a decent playoff showing but also LJ's chance at the MVP? Absolutely.

What a waste.

It's obvious that a few of the other players are frustrated too. Sue is finally working herself back into shape and is contributing, but seems to be having a harder and harder time with every loss. At the end of this game as Powell was knocking down more free throws, Sue was near mid-court with her head down and didn't look up until after the second FT went in. She was incredulous with Izi when Izi passed on an open jumper when it looked like that was the play which had been drawn up. She was also irritated with Betty after a particularly bad pass in to Janell when Sue had been completely open and calling for the ball.

Betty, over the last few games, has also been pushing herself to try and make something happen. It's clear to anyone paying attention, regardless of what the pregame injury reports might say, that Betty has been fighting a number of injuries for quite awhile. She's played through it all and tonight was the first time her injuries really brought her game down. She had several ball-handling turnovers when she tried to switch hands on her dribble and lost the ball from her bandaged hand.

You would thing that having LJ playing as hard as she is, Sue coming back from knee surgery and Betty finding a way to overcome the pain she is in to contribute game after game would inspire the rest of the team to answer with the same kind of intensity and determination. I haven't seen it and I don't quite understand why.

This is a hard stretch for all of us to take. The team's future is murky at best, down right negative at worst. LJ is playing her best WNBA basketball ever and we're still under .500. And, the one good thing that might come out of this season — an LJ MVP trophy — is, in my opinion, slipping away with each loss.

6 and 26 was bearable, as was 10-24. Now? There's no excuse for 17-17, or whatever mediocre record the Storm is going to slide into. No excuse.

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