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9/20/09 vs Los Angeles

2009 WNBA Playoffs, Round 1, Game 3

Final score: Storm 64 – Sparks 75 (L) (1-2)

Attendance | 8159

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

Game Photos | Scott E | Rick

I don't have a good track record on writing game reports for the last game of our many first round playoff exits. I'm usually too pissed off or depressed to take the two hours or so I usually need to write these things. Here we are again, out in the first round at the hands of The Diva, the Sparks and the refs. I'm pissed off and a little depressed, but I'm writing this anyway.

The Storm were just never in this game. Between their own miscues (which were many), the Sparks' constant pressure and the refs' inserting themselves into the game, the Storm were never able to get any kind of momentum. They never got any kind of rhythm. I don't think they were able to hit more than two unanswered baskets all game long.

All the things that went right in Game 2, failed in Game 3. In Game 2, the Storm were able to consistently convert Sparks' turnovers into points. They were able to use their defense to slow down the Sparks' offense and create their own scoring. Tonight, that didn't happen.

Storm fastbreaks ended in bad passes or losing the ball into the stands. On those few occasions when they got to the basket on a fastbreak, the Storm flat out missed the baskets. More often than not, the Sparks would then fly back down the court and hit a basket. The Sparks answered everything the Storm did and usually got a three or an and-one for every two points the Storm made.

As if their own issues weren't enough, the Storm also had the refs to deal with. Whether those calls were correct or not (and lots of them weren't), they took Tanisha out of the game in the first few minutes of the game. She had three fouls before the end of the third quarter and wasn't much of a factor the rest of the way.

With Tanisha neutralized, the Sparks were able focus on Sue and shut her down. Without our guards leading the way, the Sparks ran away with the game for three quarters because the Storm couldn't do anything to stop LA's inside game.

At the beginning of the third quarter, the Storm were down by 16. I started doing fan math — okay, all we need is to cut it down to 10 before the fourth quarter starts, just chip into the lead a little at a time.

I think most everyone was doing the same calculations, because the crowd tried to urge the Storm on. We were on any opportunity to cheer, any time it looked like the Storm were about to break something open. But like I said, every time the Storm got a stop or two, they weren't able to convert and the Sparks would just turnaround and increase the lead.

Still, the math wouldn't stop. Okay, we're down by 18 and we just need to cut in by a couple baskets and make it a game. Okay, we're down by 20 — it's looking grim but it can still happen, we just need a couple baskets.

The Storm finally started to make a push, but being down by 18 with only 5 minutes or so left makes even the most optimistic fan math falter. The Storm got it down to 9, but no further.

Making a game of it wasn't the goal and it isn't any kind of consolation. Winning one out of three minus our all-world superstar isn't a moral victory. I can guarantee you that every player on the Storm roster wanted to beat the Sparks, send Leslie out to pasture with a foul taste in her mouth and kill the first round monkey that has taken root on all our backs.

Not this year.

We've got Sue back next season. Tanisha, Swin and Camille all deserve to be back. LJ is a huge unknown — will she be back or not?. Pee Wee has retired, so we're once again in need of a capable back up point guard. Suzy, Janell and the Ashleys are all questionable. I think JB wants to start, but that won't happen in Seattle I think. For the rest, I think Coach Agler will have to make some hard decisions about our depth and the lack thereof.

This is a disappointing end to what had been a promising season. The Storm had a stranglehold on second place in the West and third place overall for most of the season. They had three players in the All-Star Game. Tanisha finally came into her own and became a legitimate fourth scoring threat for the team. The Storm had one of the best conference records in the league and one of their best road records. There was a lot to be happy with this season, but all of it came to naught with yet another first round playoff bounce.

Other notes:

Lots of big names in the crowd: Lenny Wilkens, Sheryl Swoopes, Mayor Nickles (he wasn't introduced because I'm sure he would have gotten booed) and Jenny Boucek.

I think we've turned on Betty. She was getting boos even during the game. Why boo her and not the real villains? Maybe Storm fans have finally turned a corner and will stop clapping for every opponent.

The Seahawks' Blue Thunder drum line performed for halftime.


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