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7/22/09 vs Los Angeles

Final score: Storm 98 – Sparks 87 (W-3OT) (11-6)

Attendance | 7154

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

Game Photos | Scott E | Rick

Usually, I don't read anything online before writing one of these reports. I don't want my impressions to influenced by how others saw the game. After getting home from this game, I knew I wouldn't be staying up to write so I gave in a read some of what other people were saying.

The one thing that stood out was how many people said that this was such an amazing game. I have to disagree. The third overtime was great. Sue finally deciding to win the damn thing was great. Camille taking over the paint even though she was hobbling on two cramping calves was great. Pee Wee schooling the LA guards was great. Tanisha driving the lane with authority was great.

The first 35 minutes or so? Not great. Not at all great. I swear I was developing a serious twitch in my left eye watching the first part of this game.

The Storm once again found themselves playing from behind and playing their slow, shot clock grinding half court offense. It was almost like the Sparks were sitting back, licking their chops, just waiting for the rushed layups to block.

It was painful to watch. The Storm players were anticipating the blocks so much that as soon as they got the ball in the paint, they would hesitate or pump fake whether the defense was there or not. Of course, that split second was more than often just enough for the defense to react, get there and send the shot back. If the Storm shooters would have just gone up with the ball without that pause, they would have only had one defender to get around instead of three. Blocking shots was really all Parker was doing for most of the game. That and rebounding.

Ah, the rebounding. I'm honestly shocked that the Storm were able to keep the game close with the sickingly huge rebounding deficit they were playing under. There were 3 Sparks players who were flirting with double doubles BEFORE THE HALF. The Sparks easily dominated the glass until the overtimes started piling up and fatigue set in. Even then, the Storm only made up some ground on the stat sheet because Camille went crazy. If she had played with half the energy and aggressiveness early in the game as she did in the overtimes, we may not have needed overtimes.

I'm sure people will remember Sue's three three-pointers in the third overtime as one of the biggest highlights from her career here so far. What they may not remember (or simply block out) were the airballs she tossed up early on. Sure, she was getting bumped. The LA guards were playing more to get into her head than they were playing straight up defense, but that doesn't completely account for Sue's horrible shooting. She was visibly frustrated at herself and looked like she didn't know what to do after missing badly again and again. She had her hands on her head or up in the air, gesturing to the powers-that-be looking for an answer as to what to do. This has really been an incredible stretch for her. I don't know if she's had this hard a time as a member of the Storm, except for maybe her first year.

While we're on the subject of frustrated players and the Sparks playing head games, the textbook example of that was D-Nasty and LJ. I wonder sometimes how any self-respecting player can think they are doing themselves or the game any justice by playing the way DMJ plays. It's not just that she's dirty. It's that she doesn't seem interested in playing any other way. The only reason she's in the game is to hit, scratch, elbow, slap, pull on and make another player get mad. Wow. Great accomplishment. You're nothing but a damn hitman. It's basically an acknowledgement that you've got nothing real and can't compete straight up against LJ. The only thing you've got left is being a thug. Surely, a proud moment for you and your family.

LJ has made great improvements in her ability to play through all that crap, but she has her limits and when the refs aren't doing their jobs to keep the game clean, her mouth gets going. She got tied up with D-Nasty under the Storm basket part way through the first overtime. DMJ saw her opportunity, since LJ already had a technical for mouthing off to one of the refs, and was jawing at LJ while holding on to her after the play was dead. LJ went right back at her and that was it. We were without our best player, who was actually having a decent game for a change, and the hit looked like it had been successful.

D-Nasty wasn't the only bad attitude out there. Bobbitt was throwing shoulders at Sue, whether Sue had the ball or not. Parker was almost a cartoon character with how demonstrative she got every time she got called for a foul. Thompson of course never fouls and everyone around her is an idiot. Even Betty got into the act and was flopping around.

There is no way to look at this game through about the first 35 minutes without calling it brutish and ugly. And worse, it was looking like a brutish and ugly loss. Harsh language, melodramatic overreactions to foul calls (mostly from the Sparks) and unnecessarily physical play aside, the Sparks were holding onto a slim lead with a few minutes left in regulation.

Then things started to turn. Yes, the Storm had been totally outrebounded but they got the few that counted. Yes, the Storm's shots weren't falling, until they really counted. Sure, the Sparks had been in control, until they started playing the same plodding, shot clock wasting offense that the Storm had been playing.

Just like they have in their recent wins, the Storm cranked up the defense and were finally able to force the other team into bad shots and turnovers. The Storm also were finally able to convert those rebounds and turnovers into points. They chipped away at the Sparks lead and were able to take over with about 50 seconds left. LJ, Camille and Tanisha all came up and hit shots to get the Storm in position to win. Quinn hit one of two free throws to tie it with about 30 seconds left and that's where the score sat until the buzzer.

Aside from LJ getting ejected and then Tanisha fouling out, the first two overtimes were a mess of traded baskets and timeouts. Neither team made any real moves to take control of the game. The most either team got up was three and that was never really any kind of lead because the other team would get it back.

Sue's scoring explosion started in the second overtime. She hit a three to tie it up at 82. She had missed all her previous shots in overtime and as I described earlier it looked like she was at a loss on why she was missing so badly. The three to tie went in clean and you could see the "Finally!" in her posture. The only way I can describe what happened once the third overtime started was that she just decided she was done with missing the basket, was done with all the crap the Sparks were throwing at her and was done with this game. The hesitant, unsure, frustrated Sue took a back seat and the cold-blooded sharpshooter took over.

Thompson hit a wide open three to start the overtime (another Storm defensive brain fart on their switching scheme left her open and with the ball at the three-point line. Seriously Storm, WTF?). That was it. Sue slammed the door and opened the scoring. The Storm scored 16 points in a row with Sue hitting her three threes, Swin hitting a layup and a three of her own and Camille hitting a couple free throws. The Sparks got one final basket as the clock wound down, but it was a garbage gimmie.

Almost 3 hours after the opening tip, the Storm put the Sparks away and won the game.

I was spent. Angie had been reduced to holding her hands to her chin somewhere during the first overtime and was left there, rocking slightly. Everyone around us was finally breathing with relief. Good Lord, what a rollercoaster.

The good things to take away from this game all came from the overtimes. The Storm gutted it out. They faced an opponent that was throwing everything at them, an opponent who had completely controlled the game for most of regulation, but found ways to keep the score within reach. They got beat up and knocked around, but fought back when it counted the most.

Camille was inspiring. I really think that she was passed over as player of the game because she needed to go to the locker room and get treatment for her cramping legs and couldn't stay out on the court to talk to Dick Fain.

Swin had a horrible game, but was able to put it behind her and come up big at the end.

Tanisha, before she fouled out, got things going and helped turn the tide. Angie leaned over to me at one point and admitted to a new superstition. She doesn't cheer for T or yell her name even though Tanisha is playing so much better because she doesn't want to jinx T. Angie never cheered for her before and thinks that if she starts she'll mess things up. I don't have that problem. I'm happy to cheer for T, now.

The first 30+ minutes sucked. The last 5 minutes were awesome. Was it one of the greatest Storm wins ever? That's what Dick Fain asked Coach Agler and Sue after the game. I don't think so, but it was certainly one of the most emotionally draining.

I've been worried about the Storm for the last two or three weeks. They've been playing on the edge of being great or being mediocre. They've let other teams dictate the game and have let themselves get into dangerous situations, two of which led to losses at home. This game started the same way, but finished in such a way that could prove to be a launching point for the team when they come back from the All-Star break. This kind of win could propel the team forward and restore the confidence we saw at the beginning of the season. I hope it does. Things only get tougher from here.

Other notes:

Betty was acknowledged before the game for her inclusion on the Storm's All-Decade Team because she's not going to be able to be here for the August 1st game.

Sue was also acknowledged before the game for passing the 3000 point/1000 assist milestone during the game at Sacramento.

There was a brief video message from Lisa Leslie since she didn't make the trip. She said something about the best fans in the WNBA. Uh huh. The best thing I can say about it was that it was short. Ugh. Done. With. Her.

There was a little timeout set piece with Doppler, his Assistant and someone dressed up in an LA jersey. The LA guy "stole" Doppler's go-cart, so Doppler had a couple of the arena cops escort him out.

There was another timeout thingy with fans shooting baskets teamed with either Shellie Hart or Lisa Gangel from KING 5. Gangel hasn't exactly been the Storm's pal over the years so I'm not sure why she was getting any court time, but she was better with the ball than Shellie. I'm not sure Shellie made a basket.



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