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8/4/07 vs Phoenix

Final score: Storm 111 – Mercury 101 (W) (14-15)

Attendance | 7759

Anthem Watch | No singer, just piped-in arena organ and the crowd singing along. Probably the best anthem performance this season.

Fan Psyche | 35 points in the first quarter? More. 38 points? More. 40 points? That might be enough to cover our third quarter slump. Maybe.

Game Highlight | Got to give it to Katie Gearlds. It's amazing what giving a bench player more than a couple minutes at a time on the court will do for their shooting confidence. Hmmm.

Halftime | Didn't see it. I was up at the auction spending money. Oh, and to all those who bid against me? Know that I will not be denied.

SF.O Keyword of the Game | Holy Triple-Digits, Batman!

Game Photos | Rick | Scott L | Scott E


This was arguably the most complete offensive game the Storm have played this season. By complete, I mean that our starters performed fantastically (like the usually do — see the recent San Antonio game) and actually got significant support from the bench. I can't really say this was a complete defensive game because, come on, the Storm gave up 101 points.

The almost utter lack of defense against Taurasi, Pondexter and Miller was hard to understand. How many times do you allow the opponent's guards to run the floor coast-to-coast for a barely-contested layup? During the first quarter when both teams are trying to run, run, run, I can understand being a bit lax. But when those three players are getting to the basket at will over the course of the whole game, you have to ask yourself what's going on with the Storm's mindset.

After Pondexter burned you for the 6th time with an end-to-end drive and layup, maybe it would be a good idea to pick her up at the half-court line, or heck maybe even the three-point line. Nope, not tonight. There was an open invitation for anyone in a purple jersey to waltz right in, and hey, let's foul just to give them that extra bit of KeyArena hospitality.

As the Storm poured it on in the first quarter, I kept wanting them to run up the score even higher knowing that a/ they couldn't keep it up for much longer, b/ Phoenix would stop being so turnover happy, c/ Phoenix was easily capable of turning around and hitting us with a 40-point quarter and d/ the Storm's recent track record of early leads and late implosions.

Of course, none of that really came to pass. Well, it did, just not as extreme as it usually is. Phoenix did hit us with a 35-point quarter, they did stop turning the ball over, the Storm scoring did sputter (when compared to a 40-point quarter) and the Storm did fade at the end, just not enough to let the Merc steal the game.

The Mercury outscored the Storm in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarters, but because the Storm bench produced and everyone except Janell (who, let's face it, can't be expected to do a ton since she has 3 freakin' torn tendons in her wrist) kept scoring, the Storm were able to keep the Mercury from running away with it.

As porous as the Storm's defense was, the Mercury's was worse. They couldn't gang-cover LJ because other people were scoring. Phoenix had some decent success by throwing a zone at Seattle, but that didn't last once Coach Donovan brought Sue and Betty back in and their outside shooting and drives broke down the zone.

About the Storm's ability to attack the zone defense — the team still sucks at it. I would think by now with so many recent examples of teams shutting us down with zones that Coach Donovan would have found a way to consistently deal with that defense.

On the other hand, it was great to finally see Coach Donovan allowing some of the bench players to get decent, consecutive minutes in the game. I imagine that she expanded her rotation to combat the fatigue factor due to the back-to-back games and the draining way in which the Storm lost in Sacramento. Whatever her reasons, it obviously paid off. Katie got an early basket and then actually started looking to score instead of pass. Ashley didn't score much, but she was able to establish herself for a bunch of rebounds and inside intimidation (no blocks, but she made the Merc think about going in). Even Tanisha had her moments. Her biggest stat of the night was a big fat zero — no turnovers. She also channeled Lin Dunn too much and with her stand, dribble, dribble, dribble routine allowed the Mercury to run their zone and claw back into the game.

This was a great win and it was nice to be happy about the Storm again. But, this kind of game just hammers home how much this season has been about underachieving and missing potential. The Storm has this kind of game in them. Our bench has this kind of performance in them. They are better than a sub-.500 record. Much better, and not only because of LJ's presence. My hope is that they can ride this win into a win streak to end the season, propelling them into the playoffs. I don't have any illusions that we'll be able to get out of 4th place, but it would be nice to take 4th instead of simply out-lasting LA or Houston. It would also be great for the bench to get and keep their confidence in themselves — so long as Coach Donovan shows that they have her confidence. Regardless of who we meet in the first round, we have a chance. The team needs to believe that, even if it's hard for us to believe it too sometimes.