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Final score: Storm 75 – Shock 59 (W) (20-2)

Attendance | 9686

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

Game Photos | Scott E | Rick | Scott L | Annie | Toni

Yes, we're dominating the Western Conference. Yes, the Storm are undefeated at KeyArena so far. Yes, the Shock are the worst team in the league. And yes, by all measures, the Storm should win this game handily. But these are the exact kinds of games that will bite the complacent or overconfident in the rear end. So yes, I had a small concern.

Luckily for all of us, the Storm aren't complacent or overconfident and tonight they took care of business.

The game started much more even than I cared for. The Storm started out a little rough around the edges and seemed to have trouble connecting or communicating well. The Shock, on the other hand, were hitting their shots and taking advantage of the Storm's early offensive miscues.

The Storm weren't really playing poorly, they were mostly just not hitting their shots and found themselves scrambling after the ball on a couple early offensive sets. The Shock came at them with a lot of speed and flailing arms which caught the Storm off guard and it took several plays for the Storm to begin to adjust.

Storm vs Shock  7

It took awhile for that to happen. The ball just wasn't bouncing the Storm's way. The Storm put up a good defensive sequence towards the end of the first and forced the Shock into a poor shot. The ball came off the rim and bounced down into LJ and Le'coe (I think) and out of bounds. LJ jumped out to save it and ended up passing it back into play and right into Kiesha Brown's hands for an easy layup.

After the beginning of the second with LJ and Sue on the bench, the Storm had a couple terrible offensive sets that had Coach Agler ready to explode. It looked like on the second one that the players were confused as to what play had been called or were reacting to one play call and didn't change when the play call changed. They were totally confused and ended up getting a shot clock violation. Coach Agler had seen enough and called a timeout and laid into the team. He hasn't been that angry for awhile. I think he was challenging them to focus and stay together, trying to battle any creeping complacency he was seeing.

Still, after the timeout, the Shock were able to go on a mini-run to get the score up by 5 and that brought Sue and LJ back in.

For me, the bigger issue with how the Storm were playing in the first half was that it seemed they had interest in taking the ball into the paint. At first, they hit a couple of early threes to keep the score even in the first quarter while the Shock were hitting all their own shots. Then, the Storm started to rely on the perimeter almost exclusively. Yes, they were hitting them, especially Svet, but by the time they got to about 5 minutes left in the half the Storm had only hit 10 field goals with 6 of them being threes.

Storm vs Shock  28

I don't really know why they weren't able to establish more of an inside game up to that point. Maybe you could argue that they were just going with the hot hand — namely Svet hitting three after three — maybe not. They seemed to be passing up opportunities to take shots in the lane. They did occasionally drive in, but kept kicking it back out to the perimeter. The Shock didn't really have that impressive of an inside presence. Oldhe has had some success against LJ in the past (and she pulled a wicked turn around step through move against some prime LJ defense for a layup), but the complete lack of any Storm movement inside had to have been more than due to Oldhe's activity.

The good thing was that as some of the perimeter shots didn't fall, the Storm started to get some offensive rebounds and scores. Le'coe especially was able to out fight the Shock forwards for the rebounds. The Storm started to gain some traction at the end of the half and get things together. They turned up their defensive pressure and either got stops and defensive rebounds or forced turnovers and were able to generate quick offense. The Storm ended the half, up by 6.

One of the best things about Coach Agler is that he is unafraid to make adjustments, and as the team's record proves he has been making some good adjustments lately.

The Storm started the third quarter by going into the paint early and often. They started attacking with their first offensive set, with LJ diving to the basket. She got cut off and had to pass on the shot, but the tone was being reset.

Through most of the third quarter, the Storm went on a 14-0 run by playing their normal stifling defense and attacking the paint. As soon as the arena announcer pointed out the Storm run, Crossley hit a shot clock beating three point shot to break the Tulsa drought. When the Storm drove to the basket, they were successful. When they settled for outside shots, even when Svet or Swin hit, they ultimately played slower and weren't as dominant.

Storm vs Shock  51

Another adjustment — keeping Le'coe in instead of Camille. Camille just wasn't having any success against the Shock bigs but Le'coe was able to come in and overpower them. Le'coe had 10 rebounds, hit all her shots and wasn't fouling. She had a very solid game off the bench and was able to provide a great spark when Camille was coming up empty.

The Storm built and carried a 20-point lead into the fourth quarter. At about the 8 minute mark, Coach Agler started pulling the starters and had the bench out there with Tanisha, and then a minute later pulled her as well and went all bench. Ashley, Alison and Abby went 0 for 10 even though they had open looks. ARob missed two or three point blank jumpers. Alison had a couple open-ish drives to the basket, but got cut off at the last second on each one and had to put up a contested shot. Abby had an open three that went long. She and Alison both got fouled and did knock down all their free throws.

One of the troubling things to pop up during the final minutes of the game while it was into serious garbage time, the Shock started getting very physical and chippy. Who knows what they were thinking, but it seemed like they were taking their frustrations out on the Storm bench, most of whom weren't even in the game when the Storm put the hurt on the Shock. Not a whole lot of class there. You can change the coach, the city and all of the players, but some things stay very much the same.

Storm vs Shock  62

The Storm are 20-2 and in firm control of how the end of the season progresses. Soon, they may be in firm control of the playoffs as well. We've all been excited to see the Storm clinch a playoff spot, even though it hasn't been in much doubt for weeks. With just another win, they'll clinch the Western Conference. Nice to be sure, but I'm holding out for clinching home court throughout the playoffs and Finals. That's the big one and that's why I think the Storm will ultimately keep playing with the same intensity and drive we've seen thus far. They aren't going to satisfied with anything less.

Other notes:

Steven Kilbreath was behind the mic tonight as the arena announcer. I didn't even realize it was him until the second half.

Former Governor Booth Gardner and current Governor Christine Gregoire were sitting courtside.

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