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Final score: Storm 80 – Sky 60 (W) (22-2)

Attendance | 7749

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

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

I'll be honest. Even though the Sky is one of the two teams that has beaten the Storm this year, I wasn't really all that nervous about this game. The Storm have been playing with a drive and determination that wasn't there earlier in the season. They have a clear, short-term goal in front of them — home court advantage throughout the playoffs — and they are going to keep pushing until they achieve that goal. Then, off to the bigger, long-term goal.

But that's for later, right now the Storm have to deal with a player who, in my opinion, is one of the more exciting players to watch in the league. I have my non-Storm favorites out there, but not many. Sylvia Fowles is definitely a favorite of mine and I was excited to not only see her play tonight but also to see how the Storm would defend her. I think one of the reasons they lost that game in Chicago earlier this season was because they didn't defend her for a complete game and she was able to score and to get her teammates involved as well. Then, they were able to hold out against the Storm's normal fourth quarter comeback for the win. Fowles presence is something that few other teams have in the league and I think she is able to force the Storm posts out of their normal style of play.

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How all of this was going to pan out was revealed in the first few minutes of the first quarter. The Storm came out playing the same kind of smothering defense they used to come back against the Mercury in the last game. In fact, it felt like they had just taken a short breather between quarters and picked up right where they left off.

Their game plan against Fowles was to pick her up as far away from the paint as they could and then instantly double team her as soon as she got the ball or as soon as she started to move towards the basket. LJ and Camille were the primary pair on the double teams with Swin coming to help as well.

It was interesting that Coach Agler started with Camille as the primary defender on Sylvia, but it made sense figuring that whoever was on her the most would be picking up a lot of fouls. Camille got her first one 10 seconds into the game. By the half, both she and LJ had three each.

With the Storm posts paying so much attention to Fowles, of course that would leave other Sky players open. Not so much. The rest of the Storm defenders were playing great team defense. They were switching and rotating quickly enough to cut off any non-Fowles drives to the basket. I don't think I remember any Sky inside scoring of signifgance until ARob came in later and Fowles started to attack. The Storm were forcing the Sky into long range jump shot after jump shot and then fighting for all the rebounds.

I was worried that Camille and Le'coe would be at a big disadvantage against Fowles. Not really. Camille put together a great first quarter, even with the early fouls. She hit a three along with a couple other layups, got a monster offensive rebound even though she was surrounded by powder blue jerseys and had a steal. Le'coe did have a major brain fart that lead to an easy Sky basket — she inbounded the ball and then didn't keep her eye on the ball and when Sue (I think) got trapped and tried to pass back to Le'coe, it went right past her and into the hands of a Sky player for an easy basket. Other than that, she was a force on the rebounds and not shy to take her shots. She also used all her "assets" to box out Fowles on a couple occassions.

Storm vs Sky  22

The Sky really seemed a little shell shocked and not sure what to do with Sylvia essentially getting shut down. Looking back at that Mercury game the other night, the Sky looked like the Storm in the first half of that game — a step (or more) slower to the ball, not playing as a unit on either end of the court and unable to match the other team's energy. The Storm out-hustled, out-jumped and out-everythinged the Sky and were running away with the game early.

All of this gave Coach Agler the opportunity to play the bench and he started at the end of the first quarter when he brought in ARob for LJ. Through most of the second quarter, he had bench players in with one or two starters. Svet and Le'coe got a little more than their normal minutes. Jana and Ashley both got some extended court time and were both productive. I know, I've been down on ARob for quite awhile, but I'll give her due for the game she played tonight.

She only took two shots. One that looked good, in rhythm and confident, the other not so much. She had three blocked shots, one of which was gigantic. She only had a couple rebounds, but she also had a steal and no turnovers. If she could only get her shots to consistently be less rushed and do the same other little things she did tonight, she would be a fine bench player and probably get a more consistent 10-15 minutes a game.

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Jana had a similar game, minus the scoring. Coach Agler had her at the small forward spot much of the time she was in and she was able to really control her Sky counterparts through her size and speed. I think other teams see her "I'm about to fall asleep" look and assume she's slow or lazy. She isn't either one and is able to be very disruptive on defense. She had two steals and four rebounds. Not bad at all.

The Storm slowed down a bit in the third, seemingly taking their foot off the gas a bit. They were still playing their defensive strategy and forcing the Sky into a lot of jump shots. Those started to fall and the Sky were able to keep the Storm from increasing their lead. The Sky kept the rest of the game fairly even, but never put up a real threat and stayed between 24-20 points behind.

The Storm bench was able to maintain the lead and get decent court time. Anytime the Storm can win by 20 while Sue, Swin and LJ all have less than 30 minutes of game time is a good, comfortable win. The fourth quarter was a bit of yawner to be honest. That's fine. We got all the drama we needed from that Mercury game the other night. I'll be happy with some nice comfortable wins for awhile.

Storm vs Sky  56

One thing about Christi Thomas, a former Spark who has bounced around a bit and is now coming off the bench for the Sky. I really don't like her one little bit. She was playing as nasty and dirty as she was with the Sparks and there was really no need for it. None of the other Sky players were acting like that and there was nothing coming from the Storm players that might deserve retaliatory physical play. She was just being a brute for the sake of being a brute. Once a Michael Cooper acolyte, always a Michael Cooper acolyte. Feh.

Other notes:

The anthem was sung by an acapella group called the Match 4s (from the Washington State Lottery). They only had 3 members. They were called the Match 4s. 3. 4. I'm not sure where the conceptual breakdown happened, but they might think about getting a fourth singer.

The August 5th game is going to be the annual teddy bear toss night. Bring you bears and try to hit the refs. That's what I always do.

The Storm will be presenting a special 10th anniversary jersey to LJ during the August 7th game. It will be up at the fan info desk on the concourse for fans to sign or leave messages for LJ.

During a timeout, a fan got a chance to shoot a half-court shot for $10,000. He tried to overhand throw it and failed utterly. He didn't even try to run up to the line or anything. Amateur.

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