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7/7/09 vs San Antonio

Final score: Storm 66 – Silver Stars 53 (W) (7-4)

Attendance | 10137

Box Score | Jayda's Game Blog | Pelton's Game Blog

Game Photos | Scott E | Rick

What was that? Was that really a KeyArena crowd going crazy because Lauren Jackson hit a free throw. A free throw? Lauren Jackson? What?

I honestly didn't notice that LJ was putting up a goose egg until near the end of the first quarter. I was checking out the game stat board at the end of the arena (on the video ring above the suite level) and noticed that once again it wasn't working correctly. The Storm stats seemed to be correct, but it was still listing the Sparks' stats from the last game. Then LJ's stat line went past. Huh. 0 points, 2 fouls and 2 rebounds. Stupid board. Broken again.

Except it wasn't broken.

LJ not only didn't have a basket in the first quarter, she wasn't even getting the ball in her hands. I'm sure San Antonio will take all the credit for shutting LJ down, but I think they were simply in the right place at the right time. I watched her closely during the halftime shoot around and she was bricking everything. Badly. Her shots didn't have their normal arc. Everything was either hitting off the back of the rim or going wide. I normally don't put much into how well a player shoots during the warmups, but with LJ today you could tell all the misses were frustrating her.

I think someone on the Silver Stars noticed LJ's mounting frustration because Riley, Young and Perp... pop... pep... Buescher went after her hard in the third quarter. They had been doubling her early in the game, but it wasn't anything that LJ doesn't see on a regular basis. In the third, they seemed to get a lot more physical and break LJ's composure. It kind of worked. She popped Riley in the face with an elbow that was about as blatant a foul as I've seen LJ commit. She didn't even try to argue it. While they did get under LJ's skin, the Silver Stars aggressive play also landed Riley into foul trouble and she eventually fouled out. That seemed to take a little of the pressure off LJ and she started getting the ball and taking shots. Still, she only hit that one free throw and one field goal.

Now, if that were all of the story I think every one of us would have expected this game to be another 30-point debacle. LJ, thankfully, wasn't the whole story.

The Storm brought their league-leading defense and smacked the Silver Stars around for a couple hours. It was almost too bad that LJ was having such a bad game on the offensive end because it pulled attention away from the great defensive game that the team as a whole was having.

The Storm were vastly outrebounding the Silver Stars which is surprising given that the Stars have players like Sophia Young, Riley, Mattera (Feenstra) and Porp... Pep... Buescher. The Silver Stars got so fixated on stopping LJ that they stopped boxing out anyone else. While LJ was fighting through her miserable third quarter, the Storm were holding the Silver Stars to 7 points.

The Storm took advantage and with Swin and Sue hitting big shot after big shot started to pull away. The way this game had been going — let's face it, the Storm weren't lighting up any offensive records during the third either — any real lead was going to be enough to win the game.

Swin has really picked up her game lately. She had a game awhile back where she missed a ton of free throws. I think she either heard about that from the coaches or took it upon herself to fix some things because she's back to being money at the stripe. She had the best all-around game for either team, scoring a double double with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Camille also had a good game, although she didn't put up the same kind of numbers as Swin. I'm really liking Camille's game. She is developing into a perfect role-player — she knows she's not the first, second or third option, but she's very active and makes herself ready to get a block, rebound or steal and is looking for those quick inside passes for lay-ups.

Pee Wee was another notable player today. She didn't light up the stats, but she had several big plays that either kept Seattle in the game or helped push them forward. She got tied up with Sophia Young under the Storm basket late in the third or early in the fourth — when the Storm were starting to pull away — and was able to win the jump ball and keep possession for the Storm. Young has a crazy leaping ability. It's how someone her height can contend so well for rebounds, but here was Pee Wee beating her for a jump ball. A small play, but pivotal at a time when the Storm were building their lead. Another big play for her was a shot clock beating circus shot that again kept the Storm momentum rolling. She only had 8 points, but they were highly efficient and timely points.

I think Tanisha is finally in the right spot. With the guard rotation that Coach Agler has worked out, T still plays the point on occasion, but only for a play or two at a time. The Storm can mix up their guard match ups on the fly depending on game situations and put whoever is best suited at the 1 and the 2. Tanisha, I think, is doing much better now that Pee Wee is here and we have a second veteran point guard. T's turnovers are down, she's taking better shots and making better decisions and is playing stronger defense. I've found myself cheering for her a lot more than I used to.

What is still a bit of a head scratcher is why the bench is getting so little playing time. Why isn't Janell or A-Rob getting time relieving LJ, especially during a game like this one in which LJ is having so many problems? Both of them match up well against Riley and Young — they have the height and reach advantage. Why not put them in to take some of the pressure off LJ? I thought they and the other bench players had performed fairly well early in the season, so I don't get why they aren't being used now. Our starters are all averaging 30+ minutes a game. That can't continue, can it?

I hope LJ can chalk this game up to her mulligan for the season and get back to her league scoring leader ways. I don't know that the Storm could pull off a win like this against many teams, great defense or not, with single digit scoring from Lauren.

Other notes:

Today was Kid's Day and Doppler's birthday, so there were mascots from other teams at the game. Normally, the other mascots are all WNBA critters. I think we saw another sign of the WNBA's budget tightening in the fact that while we had San Antonio's Fox and the Mercury's Scorch, we also had the Mariner's Moose and the Trailblazer's Blaze. That last one illicited a mixed response from a few in the crowd. I'm not sure Seattle fans are ready for the Trailblazers to take advantage of the NBA-void up here. Scorch was actually pretty fun to watch. I missed some of the game because I kept finding myself watching Scorch mess around with the crowd.

One of the mascot activities was them giving Doppler presents. One was a silly string gun which Doppler brought up into our corner to hose down the crowd. All I could think of was "Not the lens!" Luckily, I wasn't the main target and only had to pull the strings out of my hair.

The anthem. If you've noticed, I've stopped adding all the little factoids I used to put at the top of these game reports. Most notably my Anthem Watch. After doing it for several years, I felt like I'd said my piece and decided to let it go. In a perfect world, Pat Wright would sign the anthem every time. Today, the Storm had a young lad with an electric guitar perform the anthem. He obviously has skill, but I know guitars can be played faster than that. I've seen it before. The problem with doing the anthem as an instrumental is the song is kind of repetitive. Add on doing it glacially slow and you have our anthem performance for today's game. Double time it kid.

Governor Gregoire was at the game and got a big cheer. Interestingly, Angie and I were at the opening Sounders game and Gregoire got booed big time. I guess Storm fans are a little more democratic than soccer fans.

The refs were off their game. I don't necessarily mean they missed calls and such (because really, they're refs, of course they miss calls), but they seemed to be having some communication problems. There were two or three instances when they couldn't agree on where the ball was supposed to be inbounded. I kind of got the idea that they kept forgetting who the head ref was or something. The players had to point out to them a couple times where the ball was or where it should be brought in. This was a veteran group too. Very weird.

The opening video montage has been hit and miss. They used Tina Turner's "Take you Higher" as the music, a song used to great effect a few years ago during the intros. It fell flat today. Part of it is that the video has more audio of its own and it was drowning out the song. By the end of the song, no one was clapping along. It actually kind of sucked some energy out of the crowd instead of the other way around. Thing is, I actually like the video they have. There seems to be a fine line with the intro song/video combo that either pumps up the crowd or leaves them flat. I don't think they've used the same music game to game this season.


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