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9/18/09 vs Los Angeles

2009 WNBA Playoffs, Round 1, Game 2

Final score: Storm 75 – Sparks 74 (W) (1-1)

Attendance | 8854

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

Game Photos | Scott E | Rick

I have a headache. My throat is in agony and I think I tasted blood at one point. I feel like throwing up.

I either have the swine flu or I just left KeyArena after watching the Storm beat the Sparks with some insane last second heroics.

14 seconds to go. All of us — every man, woman and child in that building — were thinking some version of the following: Here we go again. Why can't we get out of the first round? I guess my Sunday is opening up. Does Can dice Parker ever quit whining to the refs?

Correction: every man, woman and child except for the 11 Storm players and 3 Storm coaches. They were still working on winning this game.

Down 4 after some Thompson free throws, the Storm get the ball to Sue who streaks to the top of the three point line, gives her defenders a head and ball fake to get them flying past and then inexplicably knocks down yet another game saving three point basket.

10 seconds left and it's back to a one-point game.

Seriously, does that woman even have real human blood in her or some sort of T-1000 liquid metal that allows her to forget the first 39:50 of the game and calmly hit one of the biggest shots in Storm history?

Everyone knows the Storm are going to foul as soon as the Sparks even think about touching the ensuing inbounds pass. All the Storm players are body to body with the Sparks players, waiting to slap at the arm, wrist or ball to stop the clock and prepare for another miracle.

Noelle Quinn tried to pass the ball to Delisha Milton-Jones who was running towards the Storm end of the court, so her pass was already in the direction of the promised land. ARob was defending the inbounds and jumping and waving her arms around like a crazy woman, so Quinn had to throw the ball a bit wide.

Camille (I LOVE YOU FOREVER AND EVER) Little was on DMJ and went for the pass instead of waiting to foul DMJ after catching the ball. Somehow she got her fingers on it and tipped it, forcing it even more towards the Storm end of the court.

Tanisha was able to get control of the ball, fighting it away from Thompson, who almost got a hand on the ball. She flipped it forward to a flying Camille who had immediately taken off down the court after tipping the ball. With the same steely resolve as Sue with her three-pointer, Camille drives to the basket, avoids the defenders (Thompson mostly) and laid in the ball.

What I just described took all of about 5 seconds. And just that fast we have the lead by one and KeyArena is shaking to its roots from the roar of the crowd, none of whom are now making alternate plans for Sunday.

Leslie had a shot on the other end as the clock expired, but missed.

It's on for Game 3.

On our way out of the arena, we saw Amy Burdick, our former ticket rep and one of the great Storm front office people we've met. She spelled it out in three little words:

Will to Win.

That's what the Storm are all about right now. They aren't listening to the hype or the commentators who have them as just another road bump on the Lisa Leslie Retirement Grand Tour. They believe they can win every game they play, regardless of the opponent. It's not something we've seen from the Storm for a long time, so it's hard to not fall into the normal way of thinking when we are down or facing the long odds. We have to think the same way, especially for Game 3.

Will to Win.

We saw it in Game 1, even though it was a loss. The Sparks came out and tried to win the series in the first quarter of that game. The Storm responded and were a couple turnovers or made baskets from winning that game.

Tonight we saw it all game long as the Storm battled hard, ignored the rebounding differential, forgot the miscues and kept going at the Sparks until they overcame a 9-point deficit and took the lead. And then at the end of the game with the result looking all but decided, the Storm didn't roll over and give in to the assumed inevitable. They kept fighting. Some might look at the last two baskets scored by Sue and Camille as luck. Maybe, but both were situations that happened because the Storm kept working and didn't give up. They made their own luck happen.

Will to Win.

The Storm has it. We need to bring it. Game 3 is Sunday.

Other notes:

The playoff video played during the player intros was freakin' awesome! I loved it. I haven't checked, but I hope the Storm put it on their web site. The graphics were very cool. The players all looked tough and defiant. The music was perfect. Whoever put that together — great job.

There was booing during the Sparks' intros (only the starters for either team were introduced since this was a televised game). We need more, people!

Shannon Bobbitt was acting like a crazed Shitzu or something on the Sparks' bench, jumping around, yelling, waving her arms, running up and down the sideline — all game long. Give it a rest, short bus.

Sue got an award pregame for leading the league in assists this season. Never a good omen.

There was nice video message about Pee Wee retiring at the end of this season which had been announced recently. I don't think I was the only one wondering why we have such a hard time keeping veteran back up points guards. I honestly think we're in the spot we are this season because Pee Wee presence allowed Coach Agler to play Sue and Tanisha in such a way as to push both toward their strengths. I would really like to see Pee Wee stay.

The officiating was nauseating (part of the reason for me wanting to throw up at the end of the game, I'm sure). It's hard to not think about league conspiracy theories about prolonging The Diva's run through the playoffs after seeing some of the crapola coming from the zebra corps. And here's a little tip for any refs who might read this: when Delisha Milton-Jones and any other player start pushing, shoving or using harsh language and you want to call a double technical. Don't. It's all DMJ, so just call it on her. Isn't it a little telling that it's always her and someone else that get into it? That's her job, to get into other players' heads and be an instigator. That's Cooper's style. Her play has his stink all over it. #59 Josh Tiven — you suck. There is no other way to really describe your performance tonight than that. You suck. #13 Cameron Inouye — you suck. You are the easiest ref for players to intimidate and the Sparks were in your face, towering over you all night and you kept calling things their way regardless of reality. #39 Michael Price — you suck. I got nothing else.

They showed the final results of the 2009 Stormies, and no one was surprised that Ashley Robinson won for her "Dumb and Dumber" most annoying sound ever clip. She was giving her video acceptance speech when Camille interrupted all Kanye-style and said something about Sue having the best clip of the year. It was unexpected and awesome. The whole arena was cracking up.

Player commentary usually isn't an Other Notes kind of thing, but it is tonight. Suzy rocked it tonight. She did have some hard-to-take turnovers under the basket, but she also knocked down some threes and a couple free throws at key times to help turn the game around. Camille was having a tough time in the paint. She can usually go one-on-one against taller players, but she was going up against 2 or 3 Sparks' bigs at a time and was really unable to produce much. She of course got the important one. Swin, Sue and Tanisha lead the way with the scoring. Tanisha had a great stat line with 15 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds. I didn't even notice the assists until I looked at the box score.

The Storm's defense was the real story of this game. They played the Sparks tough all game, but had one stretch in the third quarter when they were phenomenal. They were forcing turnovers, fighting for rebounds and just shut down the Sparks at every turn. And then on the other end, they were able to turn those turnovers into points. They outscored the Sparks by 10 in the third quarter and were able to ride that momentum into the fourth quarter.

A quick check through all the box scores for the other playoff games shows that we, by far, had the best attendance of any playoff game so far. It will be interesting to see what Phoenix and Indy can pull, but they aren't going to match our energy or noise. I'm thinking about buying a decibel meter to start keeping track of how loud the Key gets. We had that place rocking tonight.

The Garfield High School Drum Line performed at halftime.

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