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Final score: Storm 97 – Mercury 74 (W) (8-1)

Attendance | 7827

Box Score | Jayda's Game Blog | psheehy's Game Blog | Live from Press Row

Game Photos | Scott E | Rick | Scott L | Diane

Well. I think it is safe to say that the third quarter of this game will be the measuring stick against which the Storm's performances are measured.

The Storm outscored the Mercury 37-13. They outplayed the Mercury in every way. They smothered Phoenix on defense and had their offense clicking better than any other period this season so far. What had been a close game through the first two quarters became an almost absurd blowout with the Storm leading by 41 at one point.

Oh yeah, and this was the second half of a road/home back-to-back.

Wow, wow, wow.

I was concerned at the beginning of the game that the Mercury were going to try and run the Storm into the ground. The game down in LA last night was tight at the end and our starters didn't get a lot of rest. Add in the weirdness of playing outside, not a lot of sleep with the quick travel back to Seattle and an early-ish Sunday game (even an hour earlier than normal can have an effect) all potentially added up to the Storm not having a lot of gas in the tank. While Phoenix seems to have lost some speed with Cappie's absence, they are still Phoenix and running is what they do.

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In fact, the Storm started the game on what can only be described as a quick attack mode. The Storm were the ones pushing the tempo. They were getting the ball down the court quickly, passing into the paint early in the shot clock and taking it up for a shot without hesitation. The Storm were also spreading the scoring around so that the Mercury couldn't double team LJ or whoever might be posting up in the paint.

Phoenix eventually responded by going into a zone. It didn't really help, because the Storm just went to work breaking it down. Their passes were quick and snappy as they continued to reverse the ball and find the seams in the zone as they developed. The best part of it all was that the Storm were making great decisions on their shots. They were patient, methodical and had no real problems scoring against the Merc defense.

It wasn't until the Storm starters were subbed out that the Storm's overall defensive intensity eased up. During the first part of the second quarter, the Mercury were able to slowly start to creep back into the game. By the mid-point of the quarter, they had cut the Storm's 14 point lead down to 7.

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It was during the second quarter that I thought the Storm's fatigue might be setting in. The Mercury were playing a short roster at that point and had left most of their starters in against the Storm bench. They were also speeding up their offense and were able to get quick scores before the Storm were able to get set defensively. On the other end, the Storm were slowing down on offense and taking much more time to get the ball in. The Mercury pulled to within 5 and I was getting more and more concerned that the Storm may have used up their energy to start the game so hot. With a couple minutes left in the half, I was not looking forward to the third quarter.

Apparently I had given up on the second quarter too early because the Storm had same gas left.

They went on a mini-run and took off on a 10-0 spurt to end the quarter. The Mercury had been taking control and reeling the Storm back in only to find themselves down by 15 going into the half.

And then, the third quarter.

You know it's good when I forget to take photos or take any game notes. I could never really be a reliable sports writer or reporter. I get into the game too much and there was no way I wasn't getting into the game tonight. The Storm were superb and just totally dominated the Mercury. Both Angie and I kept pointing out the scoreboard to each other as the quarter wore on as the Storm extended their lead past 20, then past 30 and finally up to 41 points.

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We weren't the only ones who were thinking "What the hell just happened?" The Mercury were stunned and had absolutely no response for the Storm's energy and output. The capper came at the very end of the quarter when the Storm got the ball back with .5 seconds on the clock (after a referee instant replay review) and were able to find Jana at the free throw line for a catch and shoot to beat the buzzer. The place went crazy and the game was over.

The fourth quarter was bench vs. bench and while the Mercury bench took control and outscored the Storm bench 26-10, we still got some good performances from a couple players.

I really liked what I saw from Veselá. She came in a shot with confidence and had no hesitations with the ball. It was a telling difference between the way she played and the way ARob played. Ashley got the ball for a couple shots and still had the deer in the headlights reaction, even though she's been on the team for years now. On one shot, she had the ball five feet from the basket, was moving towards the basket and wasn't being tightly guarded. Instead of getting an easy jumper, she threw the ball off the backboard like she was setting up some sort of circus jam. It wasn't even close. Compare that to Veselá who confidently hit her jumpers or drove the lane for 8 points on 4 for 4 shooting. I get that Coach Agler kept Robinson for her height, but damn.

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Thankfully, the Storm get a bit of a break before they face LA next week. Yes, they were able to turn the tables on Phoenix and run them out of the Key, but there's no reason to push our luck. Some rest is a great idea and the Storm need to stay focused. The Sparks are taking a long time to get their stuff together, but they are still tough.

The good news is that the Storm is 4-0 against Phoenix and LA. The Storm will play 10 games this season between those two teams, playing each 5 times. We're off to a good start, but it's just a start.

Other notes:

Biggest Loser season 2 winner Matt and his wife Susie, season 2 runner up, were at the game. It was a little ironic that shortly after introducing them on the big screen, the Storm held a cookie eating contest during halftime. Nothing like honoring someone for getting healthy and losing weight and then following it up with some gluttony.

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The Swin Cash bobblehead clip was unveiled, warning all of us to not be fan 4001 on bobblehead night. Whoever produced these clips did a great job.

Taurasi got called for a flagrant foul after knocking Svet in the head as Svet went up on a fastbreak for a layup. Dee argued the call, but it was clearly a head shot even if it was inadvertent. After the free throws, Dee was smiling and gestured at Svet from across the floor who motioned back that she was okay.

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