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8/11/07 vs Washington

Final score: Storm 91 – Mystics 68 (W) (15-17)

Attendance | 8443

Anthem Watch | A small chorus made up of members of the Seattle Women's Choir (I think). Very nice. Quick and to the point without any American Idol foolishness.

Fan Psyche | Just win one freakin' game and then we're all in (the playoffs).

Game Highlight | Another one of those take-your-pick nights. Personally, I think limiting the Mystics to 8 points in the third quarter is the biggest one.

Halftime | Dance troupe performing with lots of extra kids.

SF.O Keyword of the Game | Chin up mate. We're all behind you.

Game Photos | Scott E | Rick | Scott L

The big thing to start the game was that LJ was back, but not really back. It was painfully obvious, and completely understandable, that she was really struggling to keep things under control. A coworker of mine recently lost her grandmother. She flew home for the funeral and when she came back each of us let her know that we were there for her. She is a very private person and didn't want anyone making a big deal out of it, so we kept it low key. LJ, despite her public occupation, is also a very private and shy person. I'm sure her teammates did what we did for our friend. But instead of just having to face a handful of coworkers with her grief, she was facing 8,000 of us. Even though every single one of us just wanted to give her a hug and let her know we support her, you could see the pain she was in.

In terms of her game performance, her shot was off and while she was in there and battling for position, every time play stopped it was like she was a marionette whose lines went slack. It is a testament to how good a player she is and how much of a competitor she is that she was able to finish the game with her average 24 points.

Her team came through and helped her get over that first half slump. Betty especially took over and torched the Mystics early and often. She came out with determination and intensity, ignoring the ever-growing wrap on her left wrist to slice and dice the Mystics defense. She had 20 in the first half and ended the game with a new career-high 37.

It wasn't all Betty — Sue also came out looking to score and shot really well. Ashley came up with some huge rebounds. The bench didn't produce a lot of scoring — let's face it, Katie is just about the only scoring option on the bench right now — but they also didn't let things slide when they were in. I think the key bench statistic is that they only had 1 turnover between them.

By the time the third quarter rolled around, LJ had finally found a groove and started to hit her shots. That forced the Mystics to pay a lot more attention to her which kept things open for Betty and Sue. The Storm had a great third quarter offensive game and put up 32 points.

Better still was that they held the Mystics to only 8 third quarter points. In fact, it took nearly 6 minutes before the Mystics scored a basket. Through that time, they had 1 point off of a free throw. The Storm blew the game open and turned what had been a relatively close game into a rout.

The game's larger context, of course, was winning and taking the 4th spot in the playoffs rather than waiting for a Houston loss to get us there. Part way through the third quarter, the arena announcer let everyone know that Houston had lost and the Storm were in. We won anyway and made their loss a moot point.

At the end of the third, we all knew we were in the playoffs and the Storm were up by nearly 30. The Mystics were on the ropes and not really showing much fight left. Coach Donovan probably could have pulled the starters and given the whole quarter to the bench. She didn't and instead stuck to her normal rotation until almost the mid point of the quarter. I imagine that she left LJ in there to help her get back into normal game speed. Even missing a few days can have an impact.

Once the bench was in they kept the Mystics at bay for the most part and only gave up 6 points off the 29 point lead. I'm trying not to sound like I'm desperately looking for a silver lining in the bench cloud, but sometimes having them keep the game steadyish is a victory all in itself.

The best sight of the game was during the end of the fourth quarter when LJ was sitting on the bench between Sue and Izi and the two of them were able to get her to smile and laugh. The win was great. Betty was great. That, however, was the best part of the game.

Oh yeah, last thing: Official #58, Josh Tiven. You suck. A lot. I mean it.

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