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8/17/07 vs Los Angeles

Final score: Storm 97 – Sparks 77 (W) (17-17)

Attendance | 9255

Anthem Watch | To the Venerable Francis Scott Key: Sir, it is with a heavy heart and great humility that I respectfully ask your forgiveness for the hatchet job this young man did on your song tonight. We have, in our time, a "competition" that pits talentless freaks against slightly less talentless quasi-freaks who happen to look good on camera. This event is supposedly "entertainment," but in actuality its influence leads to the kind of mish-mash, R&B, get-yer-freak-on rendition of your national anthem that we saw tonight. For example, "and the home of" is not really one word and it does have consonants in it. On behalf of Americans everywhere, I am again sorry.

Fan Psyche | Everything is right in the world... LJ is back!

Game Highlight | 18-4 run to start the 4th quarter.

Halftime | $50,000 shot attempt — a granny shot from between the legs. Wow.

SF.O Keyword of the Game | Bring on Phoenix!

Game Photos | Scott E

Let's just jump to the good stuff.

LJ is back and uncorked one on the Sparks. During warmups, she was smiling and seemed much more at ease with herself and her teammates. During the game, everything about the way she moved, shot the ball, carried herself and acted stood in stark contrast with how she was in the Washington game. Her stat line documents the shift — 32 points, 50% shooting, 15 of 16 from the line, 15 rebounds and 2 blocks. Win or lose, that was the best thing about this game.

We of course did win and the Storm did it with a fantastic fourth quarter push that left the Sparks reeling. The Storm started the quarter on an 18-4 run and ended up holding the Sparks to 15. It was an energy-filled display of intense defense followed by sharply executed fast breaks and offensive sets. If we can get this kind of performance out of the Storm next week, we have a good chance to take the Mercury.

On the other hand, if we have too much of what we saw in the second quarter, gloom lies in our future.

The Storm came out strong, but again lost focus to end the first quarter and through all of the second quarter. They had no answer to Sidney Spencer and her dagger-like threes or Marta Fernandez and her drives to the basket. The two of them accounted for the bulk of the Sparks' scoring and seemed at times to be able to get an open shot anytime they wanted it.

Spenser is an interesting player. She's listed as a guard but is 6'3" — easily small forward size if not power forward size. She's very confident in her shot and knows she the Sparks' main scorer now. One thing I like about her (involuntary shudder for admitting publicly that I have any kind of positive things to say about one of THEM) is that it seems she's been able to avoid being tainted by the LA attitude — so far. She is an impressive rookie and I think she'll be a big time player in the WNBA as she matures and her game evolves. My advice to her? Don't listed to Cooper. Don't listen to Mabika. Don't listen to Thomas (whiner) and please don't listen to the Diva. They'll whisper all kinds of things about how winning requires that you disrespect your opponents and play dirty whenever possible. They lie. They LIE!

Anyway, Coach again went with the short roster rotation and didn't hit the deep bench until the end of the game when we were comfortably up by 20. That's okay with me. Every extra minute that Ashley and Katie are on the court will only pay even bigger dividends down the road.

A few other observations (since I'm not really doing a full game breakdown):

Betty was very quiet offensively tonight. She had a goose-egg until the end of the third quarter and didn't score until a drive with an and-one free throw. It's not that she was missing — she wasn't shooting. It looked to me like the wrap on her injured wrist was not as bulky as it was previously, but I could be wrong about that. I don't think any of the other players were hanging back, but she might have been so that she either didn't injure her wrist any more or was able to rest it by not pushing herself to score 20. She did, however, work pretty hard on defense, so I don't know that the hanging-back hypothesis really works.

Izi came out and again got the scoring started for the Storm. She had 12 first quarter points that again helped take some of the early defensive pressure off LJ.

Sue had a good all-around game. She didn't score a lot, but she did rack up the assists. As I've commented many times before, she picked when to shoot very strategically. Let's face it, she could probably take as many shots as LJ if she wanted to. Every time she flares off a screen and takes that little running jumper from about 12-15', she hits it. But, she doesn't constantly look for that shot. She does it when the team really needs a little scoring boost. Maybe LJ is getting triple teamed or the play has broken down. Sue slides past the screen and pops that shot. Pure buttah.

Ashley continues to impress just about everybody in the building. Talk about taking advantage of an opportunity. Janell better heal up and stay healthy. Ashley will rightfully be giving JB a run for the starting spot next season. Think about how dangerous Ashley will be if she works on her jumper in the off season or cleans up her free throws. I think she's arguably as good or better than JB on defense. Her offense needs a lot of work, but she's constantly improving.

I watched Fluker during the Storm intros. She didn't do the dance with the dance troupe like she used to. I thought for sure she'd break out a couple moves, but no.

So, the topic no one wanted to talk about tonight: Was this the last Storm regular season home game in Seattle? No one but Clay knows the answer to that. The city is saying that they're not going to let the Sonics out of their 2010 lease. That's great, but it doesn't apply to the Storm. Their lease has a yearly opt-out clause. If Bennett wanted to be a real jerk, he could move the Storm any time he wanted and keep the Sonics here until 2010 and run out the clock. Moving the Storm would be just the kind of "up yours" move I've come to expect from him. On the other hand, there is also the line of thought that argues for Clay to sell the team to a local owner since he and his crew have shown so little interest in the Storm. Again, no one knows. Personally, I'm tired of the uncertainty. If this was the last regular season game ever, at least it was a fun one.

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