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Final score: Storm 81 – Mercury 93 (L) (6-4)

Attendance | 6341

Box Score

Submitted by BrrringIt

"Well that sucked." -ohcuatro

We met Scowl at Cooperstown (Alice Cooper's restaurant) for dinner before the game. The Big Sexy mushroom burger is off the menu, replaced by the Magic Shroomer burger. The parking meters in Phoenix aren't free until 8:00 pm (!) so I ended up moving the car and dumping $6 in quarters into 2 different meters instead of paying $5 once at a lot. Live and learn.

Suzy was sitting on the scorer's table during warmups. Not expecting to play much? We had decent seats a few rows behind the bench. Lisa Brummell was there and gave me thumbs up for my LJ jersey.

Anthem: Laura Millet. Nice, traditional delivery.

We stood and cheered our team intros. Sue got a big cheer from the Phoenix fans. Phoenix intros are done to Britney Spears' "Circus." "Classy," said Mini. DT is looking leaner than in years past. The starting 5 huddled up before taking the floor. Read Sue's lips: "Focus." Mercury fans are commanded by video of DT to stand up until the Mercury's first basket. It felt good that everyone was still standing when LJ hit a 3 and we sat down.

Some pretty good basketball in the first quarter. Swin played really well. She has some fabulous moves now that she is not in pain. I love watching her twist and turn on her way to the basket for two. She was pounded by Le'Coe Willingham and made her FTs. During a timeout they played a game where beach balls fall from the ceiling and a contestant has to collect them into a kiddie pool. Fun.

1st Q: 25-22 Storm

Mini noticed Dee had zero points. I said, that's because she hasn't been shooting. Watch out. Sure enough, she started shooting, and scoring. During a timeout, they played a player spotlight video called, "A Minute with the Mercury." This one featured Nicole Ohlde wherein she revealed a crush on Andy Roddick. Ooh. A'mare Stoudemire was in the house and was introduced to wild cheers. No word on how thoroughly he was searched on his way in. PeeWee Johnson is our best acquisition this year. Not only do we finally have a true backup point guard to spell Sue, but she has some wily veteran moves that are a joy to watch. Near the end of the half with the score tied at 47 each, she took the ball right to Pondexter at the 3 pt line while shooting. Cappie got called for the foul (and promptly sat down on the court in disbelief) and PeeWee made all three FTs.

Halftime: 50-47 Storm

Entertainment: Giant hoops and basketballs.

Lisa B. came by to thank us for our support. I told her we do at least one road trip every year because 17 home games just isn't enough. She promised a few playoff games to extend the season. We talked for a while about how the team was doing and she shared a bit about how they looked in practice. I feel good about having a knowledgeable owner-fan like her overseeing the team. Also, she shared her stat sheets with us.

The Mercury came out guns blazing to start the third quarter. After 11 unanswered points, Coach called a timeout and he was PISSED. We scored after that, but the damage was done. Good thing we decided not to stand for the first Storm basket of the second half or we would have gotten yelled at for almost 5 minutes. Geez. Then T Wright nearly decapitated Bonner on a fast break. Back-to-back LA games seem to have taught her a different kind of game than she learned playing for Seattle all these years. I covered my face in shame. This would have been a good time to sub her out with KG for her scoring ability or ARob for her defense. But no. She stayed in. I think a big part of our problems in this game was the lack of subbing. Coach knows by now what each player's strengths are. A few minutes of Suzy creating space in the middle or a KG 3 or the like would have mixed it up and not made it so easy for the Merc to predict what we were going to do. LJ tripped over DT's foot while stepping backward making room under the basket. She went down and stayed down. She limped off and the trainer worked on her for a while. She came back on later, but was slightly slowed by it. The Mercury still have a Hip Hop Squad who came out and did a Michael Jackson tribute in which they all lay down on the court at the end. I did not know what to make of that. Swin got hit in the face and apparently said some bad words to Kurt. He T'ed her up for them.

3rd Q: 72-61 Mercury

The announcer yelled, "All aboard the Mercury Train!" and all these kids ran down to the court. Sound familiar? But they don't dance or hold on to the person in from of them. They just walk around the court. There was music and everything, but they just walked. Hmm. The Storm really started to play well in the 4th. LJ chilled after the drama of the 3rd and started hitting her shots. We even pulled within 2 at one point. But the wheels fell off and Phoenix went on ANOTHER 11 point run to put it out of reach. Sigh.

Final: 93-81 Mercury

Flying home today. See you in the Key for the nooner on Tuesday.

*Clicks heels three times* There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no....

 

Submitted by scowl

US Airways Arena (is that what it's called?) is a good but not especially great arena. It's not really all that large and the arena is kind of cluttered with advertisements, lots of displays and mini-Jumbotrons, and stuff like that. It has a steep "opera house" grade which I like. The concourse is huge -- you won't have people cutting through your concession lines, but the big lobby is practically empty. Dammit, Phoenix, fill it full of basketball stuff like the Conseco Fieldhouse!

The attendance was spotty. The lower seats were at least half empty. They don't curtain off the upper tier so thousands of empty seats by the ceiling made it seem even more empty. The crowd was plenty loud however and we found no obnoxious fans at all. People around us applauded Storm shots so maybe there's an underground Storm following there.

First quarter was wonderful. Man, just watching our offense spin around the court like clockwork made me sure that we were going to win this one or at least it was going to be one really high scoring game. The Mercury offense was stop and start, pausing, then usually kicking it out to an outside shooter which the Storm had left open. This is the first game I can remember that Swin just came out and dominated everything: shooting, defense, drawing fouls, and somehow being everywhere all the time.

I figured the Mercury would make some adjustments in the second half, they'd get a little bit of a lead, and we'd come back and the Merc would give up. They were relying on getting an outside shooter open and getting them the ball so if you make one of those things not happen, the Merc gets no points.

I have to mention Cappie Pondexter doing one of the dumbest things you can do in basketball -- fouling a player who's taking a hopeless shot before the half runs out. In fact it looked like Pee Wee was deliberately going after Cappie and shooting the ball as soon as she was fouled. There was only seven tenths of a second left on the clock and that gave us a lead going into the locker room.

The beginning of the second half took me back to the game in Indianapolis when we only scored four points during the entire third quarter. In several games we've gone forever before we get our first point. What I saw was our "Easter Island" offense (who was the genius who coined that phrase here?). Instead of attacking the defense, the Storm looked happy enough to dribble the ball around the perimeter and wait for the Mercs to mess up. They didn't. They had made adjustments that the Storm clearly didn't know how to get around.

The Mercs figured the best way to beat the Storm was to run all the time. They threw fast break after fast break with great team ball movement and the Storm couldn't do anything. We were down over ten points and it could have been worse. At first the lowest point was LJ getting hit in the back by a pass as she was running along the sideline. At least that's not as dumb as fouling with seven tenths of a second left in the half.

But then Tanisha had to redefine dumb with her utterly ridiculous face mask flagrant foul on Bonner. Bonner was having a great streak with two great fast layups right past Tanisha and I guess Tanisha didn't like that. It actually looked worse live because of the shocked reaction of the fans. Amazingly no fans around us expressed anger about what happened. They were just as baffled about it as we were. Well I was mad because Tanisha just made my team look like thugs in front of a friendly away crowd. If a visiting team did this in the Key to one of our players, there would have been boos for five minutes.

But forgetting all that, the fourth quarter started and if we had started the third quarter like this, maybe the Mercury would have given up. Swin was back, Sue was making wide open shots and suddenly the Storm was back. LJ's foot/shin/knee seemed fine (I was hoping she'd limp around and pretend it was worse than it was!) and she was playing great.

For some reason LJ shot her mouth off (as if the Storm didn't look bad enough already) and got a technical. It didn't seem like a big deal at the time but suddenly the Storm stopped scoring. We went back into our static dribbling offense and the Mercury continued to go nuts. The lead got bigger and bigger and it didn't look like anyone on the Storm cared. Even Agler went from passionate yelling to restrained concern. It was just a matter of how much we would lose by.

So, two road games, two flagrant fouls. You do the math. Is the Storm going to be the gang of thugs that WNBA fans will come to hate when they play on the road? Will the league require Storm players to take anger management classes?

Non-basketball stuff:

Phoenix has a new light rail system. It doesn't go to the airport since that would make sense. Instead it goes by the airport. You have to get off the train and take a shuttle bus. Good planning there. But it's only $1.75 which makes this little inconvenience worth it.

There was some sort of volleyball event taking place and my entire floor at the Hyatt was full of high school volleyball players. Everywhere I looked there were girls wearing elbow and knee pads and making lots of noise. They turned it down a notch around midnight. Oddly if this had been boys making noise, it would have bothered me.

As I mentioned before, the days of airlines trying to get you home ASAP is gone. I got bumped from my flight and Alaska thought having me sit around for ten hours for another flight to Portland was the best they could do. All they really had to do was book me on a flight to Seattle and a shuttle to Portland. Apparently I'm some sort of travel genius for having thought of this. Don't let airlines screw you like this because they don't care about you.