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6/11/08 vs Phoenix

Final score: Storm 83 – Mercury 77 (W) (7-3)

Attendance | 7483

Anthem Watch | A youth group from Utah delivering some weird cadences and tonalities. One note to the kids for their future performances: when there are cameras on you, try not to look so bored. It is the national anthem you're singing.

Fan Psyche | How does she keep hitting those threes?

Game Highlight | Tough choice, but I'm going to go with the near double double from Yo and the crazy energy play from Shyra.

Halftime | Father & daughter dancing. The swing dance was nice. The ballroom dance... uncomfortable.

SF.O Keyword of the Game | Rebound.

Game Photos |

A few free form thoughts about the game:

So this is what this team can really do. LJ gets smothered by aggressive double or triple teams and the ball deftly swings around the court to an open jump shooter who nails the basket. The defense decides to guard the perimeter and LJ cleans up inside. This was the first game we've seen where the additions of Swoopes, Griffith and Cash have really come to complete fruition.

No lead is safe against Phoenix when Taurasi is hitting like she was hitting tonight. I had trouble getting photos of the Phoenix shooters because they were putting the ball up so fast once it got near the three point line. Diana was unconscious and it really didn't matter who was on her or how much space she had to shoot. As soon as she was a foot behind a screen, the ball was in the air.

All of our starters were great. The only dark marks in the stats were Sue's 1-12 shooting, which she made up for with 8 rebounds, 6 assists and only 1 turnover, and Yo's 7 turnovers. Otherwise, a near perfect performance by our starting five. Everyone produced. Everyone hit big shots and played strong defense. True, Diana lit them up for 37, but the rest of the Mercury shot 16-54. Even Cappie was struggling and forcing shots.

Shyra Ely had perhaps her best game as a Storm player. She was relentless on the boards and did what few Storm posts have ever done — get the rebound and go right back at the rim with authority. She was scrapping and fighting for everything and then hitting her free throws once she got fouled. She got an elbow to the lip or nose late in the game and went to the locker room. If she had gotten another 3 or 4 minutes of playing time, she would have been coming close to a double double of her own.

The Storm's ball movement was the best we've seen this season. Passes, except for a couple during broken plays, were sharp and purposeful — none of the lackadaisical or overly telegraphed passes that kept getting picked off against San Antonio or Detroit. If anything, the Storm overpassed a couple times and got themselves into shot clock trouble. Sometimes, it's okay to be the one who takes the shot, even on a team of All-WNBA All-Stars.

I love Swin Cash.

Tanisha didn't have a great game tonight, but she connected on a couple key baskets and hit Sue with a pinpoint backdoor pass to Sue that caught the Mercury defense way off guard. She's settling into her true position and I find myself not getting all nervous and grimacing when she comes in the game. She and Shyra coming off the bench is quickly becoming the kind of infusion of energy that we last saw in 2004 off the bench.

Looking at the stats, the Storm tripled the Mercury's foul shot attempts — 32 to 10. While there were some mystery calls, that stat is an accurate measure of from where the Mercury's offense was coming — all perimeter. Mazzante, Miller and Pondexter were bombing away from outside. I think Cappie only drove the lane maybe 5 or 6 times, if that. One sign that the calls were going Seattle's way — LJ didn't get her first foul until well into the 4th quarter, and she was guarding Taurasi much of the time.

Diana was complaining to the refs pretty much non-stop. Nothing new of course, but there was one funny exchange in which she was complaining about LJ throwing around her elbows. D walked away from the ref and over to LJ, said something to LJ and LJ responded by whacking D with her elbow. D turned to the ref and said, "See?" LJ just kind of laughed her off.

In a not so funny elbow exchange, D and Yo got tangled up, arms locked together, and had to be separated. I happened to get a sequence of photos leading up to the fracas, and after taking a closer look found that Yo had really popped D in the face with her forearm as Diana drove into the lane. The arm lockup, yank and harsh language was a retaliation for the arm in the face.

Phoenix's record is not indicative of how good this team is. When they get their stuff together just a little bit more, they are going to be very dangerous. I think they really miss Penny Taylor, however, and without that inside presence are going to be hard pressed to succeed in the playoffs. I think that in a multi-game series, their soft defense and over-reliance on outside shooting will fall to teams with more balance and an inside game.

The Storm, on the other hand, are looking very balanced and except for more starter playing time than I'd like to see (4 starters with 30+ minutes a game) are establishing a strong inside and outside game. Now if they can just put together some road wins to go along with the 6-0 home record, we'll be in great shape.

Other notes:

Lots of fathers and daughters on display — all of the time out activities included fathers and daughters. Sue's father was at the game, as was Ashley's father.

It may just be me, but every time I see Anne Levinson, I just want to pull her aside and say, "Thank you, thank you, thank you," and do the "We're not worthy" thing.

Someone had a trumpet in the stands. I was surprised that the ushers let her in with it with as picky they can be about stuff.

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