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7/12/09 vs Chicago

Final score: Storm 81 – Sky 86 (L) (8-5)

Attendance | 6796

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

Game Photos | Scott E | Rick

Why did I have to go on and on about our home record in my last Gameday report? Did I jinx it?

This was a tough loss, not because it was such a nail-biter all the way through, but because the Storm outplayed the Sky in just about every way except for one.

The Storm outrebounded the Sky handily, an accomplishment the Storm should be proud of considering who the Sky has in the middle. The Storm shot and made more free throws. They committed fewer turnovers. They had more assists. They had more steals. They had the same number of blocks. The Storm hit one fewer baskets overall than the Sky — 30 to 31.

But the difference was the threes raining down again and again and again. The Sky shot a jaw-dropping 12 for 19 from the three point line. Who does that?

The Storm's biggest and really only failure tonight was not adjusting to the Sky's perimeter shooting at the half and defending better out there. Partially due to the Storm's aggressive defensive switching and very successful execution of their interior defense (they held Fowles to single digits and the Sky to only 24 points in the paint), the Sky's guards kept finding themselves wide open for threes. The main culprit was Toliver. At some point, even with an eye on denying the inside, don't you have to start staying home on the perimeter shooters?

Credit the Sky with playing a very smart game and keeping their composure under pressure. They took the best defense and offense the Storm could throw at them and answered everything every time, usually with a three-point play. Neither team was able to build much of a lead, and a peek at the box score shows that there were 20 lead changes. Without checking for the details, I want to say that this was the Storm's tightest game so far this season.

What really sucks about this loss was that the Storm played better than they have for the last few games. Janell, Pee Wee and Katie came off the bench and hit 6-10 for 19 points. T had a great stat line with 18 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. LJ's shot has started to come back. Swin did well. Camille had trouble against the bigger Sky centers, but was still able to do the little stuff she's been doing. Other than Sue who was bricking everything, this was actually a strong all-around offensive game from the Storm.

Sue's frustration mirrored where LJ was at in the San Antonio game. At one point, and I can't remember the last time I saw her do this, Sue went in for a shot and missed. She got knocked around pretty well, but there wasn't a call. She was talking at the ref the whole way back and then threw a blatant foul on her player out of frustration. Coach Agler pulled her immediately and sat her down. She really lost her cool and didn't get it back.

The crazy thing is that the team was loose and having a lot of fun during the pregame shoot-around. They looked relaxed and ready to play. I don't know if they underestimated the Sky or as I wrote above just weren't adjusting to how the Sky started the game, but the Storm got caught and the Sky were able to find the creases in the Storm defense. And, they were able to get Sue off her game. If she had been able to hit even a couple more shots, or even hit her free throws, it might have been enough to withstand the Sky's three onslaught. I'm not blaming the loss on Sue by any stretch, but her play was the only real dark spot in an otherwise solid Storm outing.

I've said it before and every time I see her I have to sit back and awe at her. Sylvia Fowles is spectacular. Even with a sore knee, she was a monster inside. The Storm kept her from scoring easily, but she was still a force that dictated how the Storm played. To make things even more unfair, the Sky now have Nan Chen, the center from China's national team. She only had a few minutes, but she looked as good as she did during the Olympics. The only players who really gave her trouble in Beijing were Sylvia and Lauren. She's now Syl's teammate and Coach Agler had LJ guarding other players, so Chen was able to do her thing against the Storm. If she stays in the WNBA, she could become a dominant center very quickly.

I also can't find anything critical to say about Candice Dupree (well, maybe the whole "Candice" thing — that's a negative). She is a natural and looks comfortable shooting from just about anywhere on the court. The Sky have a bright future and might make some noise in the playoffs this year if they can keep Fowles healthy. I hate to think that they might have the Storm's number.

Other notes:

Former Storm Assistant Coach Carrie Graf was at the game, sitting with fellow Aussie Ryan Rowland-Smith from the Mariners.

There was a Tacoma vs Seattle shooting contest at the half and the Tacoma shooters were hot. The girl who was shooting threes nailed 11 in 45 seconds. Even the arena announcer wanted to sign her up.

The crowd seemed a little sparse again. We had a nice roll with solid crowds in the lower bowl. Maybe having so few home games to start the season helped pump up the attendance at those games or something. We need more people.

The showed a second Storm History video clip, covering the 2001-2002 years during which we drafted LJ and then Sue. They ended it with an interview clip of someone asking Coach Dunn if she was going to take up any of the trade offers she was receiving for Sue after that year's draft. Her answer? A quick and emphatic, "No." The crowd loved it.

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