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Final score: Storm 111 – Shock 65 (W) (24-4)

Attendance | 9686

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

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

That, my good friends, is what the league-leading team playing the league-worst team is supposed to look like.

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The Storm tied their highest score at 111 (set against Phoenix in 2007 and then reached again earlier this season against Phoenix). They set the league record for a winning margin at 46 (the existing team record was 41 and old league record was 45) and had been leading by as much as 52 in the fourth quarter. And I'd like to see what the league record is for rebound differential because the Storm won that by 36 — 57-21.

The Storm bench actually outscored the Storm starters, 56-55. They played an unprecedented, at least to my memory, the entire fourth quarter plus between 3 and 5 minutes of the third (unlike Coach Richardson, Coach Agler wasn't using whole line-up changing substitutions). When the bench started coming in, the lead was in the mid-40s. The bench not only held that lead, they built on it and led by as much as 52. Everyone scored except for Alison Lacey, who had several opportunities. The best part about this blowout was that the bench had so much time in the game that several of them were able to get over their normal jitters/anxiety and settle into a good game groove. Abby and Ashley both got visibly more comfortable as the quarter progressed. Besides giving Tulsa a crushing revenge-laced loss, the fact that the Storm bench got so much quality court time is what will hopefully pay the most dividends at the end of the season.

There were two players on the court at the end of the game who knew what was happening — Shanna Crossley and Svetlana Abrosimova. The way Crossley was playing, and shooting threes, I got the impression she desperately didn't want to lose by 50. I don't know if she knew what the actual WNBA record for a loss was, but she definitely didn't want to be the team that lost by 50. She started jacking jumpers as soon as she had a sliver of open space, and like the previous game here in Seattle, she started hitting them. Sveta also must have had an idea what was going on because she took it into her own hands to make sure the lead stayed where it was. After Crossley hit a three to kick the score down to 47 with 32 seconds to go, Sveta came right back with a three of her own to push it back to 50. Unfortunately, Tulsa was able to squeak in a couple free throws and a layup with just 1 second left to get it back down to 46. 50 would have been a nice round number, but 46 was plenty to break the record. Sorry Crossley.

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But that was the end of the game. We had some good fun leading up to Sveta's and Crossley's little scoring duel.

After standing in line for 90 minutes in the rain, it was a bit of a relief to get inside, bobblehead in hand. Once inside, we got to see the new Storm commercial for playoff tickets on the big screen. It featured Swin, Le'coe and Camille saying, "Bring It" into the camera with lots of attitude, intermixed with highlight clips of the Storm at work. Hopefully we can get some good crowds for the playoffs. Selling out all home games would be fantastic. We did sell-out the whole building for the 2004 Finals (the first Finals series to be totally sell-out by the way).

The Storm honored LJ before the game on her 10th season with the team. They showed a Top 10 LJ Moments video on the big screen and then a couple lucky fans (including Stormfans.org All-Decade Team member LozFan) presented LJ with a giant jersey signed by fans thanking LJ for all she's done for the team. The owners presented her with some more expensive hardware, a bracelet set in red, green and yellow gemstones, 10 each for her 10 years. She seemed genuinely touched by all the attention.

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Once the game got going, it was clear the Storm were on a mission. They came out fast but were settling for jump shots early on. LJ took a move into the paint, but missed her shot. Swin was the Storm's offensive punch out of the gates, hitting the Storm's first 7 points. Tanisha then started attacking the paint and while she wasn't getting the baskets she was hitting her free throws.

The Storm started getting a real head of steam, but mid-quarter they hit a slow patch when the Shock were able to get a couple steals and convert them into points. The Shock's defense looked like it was starting to frustrate the Storm about that time. LJ was getting mugged and was getting very irritated that she wasn't getting any calls. Swin too was getting tetchy after Lacy tried to steal the ball from behind Swin as Swin held the ball over her head. Lacy grabbed it and Swin thought she had been fouled. When she didn't get an immediate call, she grabbed at the ball in Lacy's hands and wasn't trying to just tie her up. She was fairly obviously fouling Lacy to make a point and was lucky that the ref only called a jump ball.

The Shock continued pushing their defense and were able to get the score as close as 15-9 on four straight Storm turnovers. That was pretty much it for the Shock. Their high point of the game came about halfway through the first quarter. From then on, it was all Storm.

The Storm got through their rough spot and took over. Their ball movement was excellent, swinging the ball around the perimeter quickly enough that they were able to find open shooters or find cutting teammates for easy scores. They amped up their offensive execution and put the Shock on their heels and themselves on the line for free throws.

Actually, they almost didn't get to start shooting free throws after the Shock got to 5 team fouls. No one on the court seemed to be paying attention to that number because they had the Storm bring the ball in from the sideline after the 5th Shock foul. Luckily, the fans were paying attention because enough of us were yelling about it that the refs stopped play and let Le'coe. the Storm player who had been fouled, shoot her free throws.

The Storm started their onslaught with an 8-0 run and ended the quarter up 28-9. During the break, I was checking over the stats (I love the WNBA's iPhone app, love it) and noticed LJ hadn't scored in the first quarter. Huh. She didn't score until 8:13 in the second quarter. No matter really, since her teammates were going nuts. Unlike the Connecticut game in which it was pretty much all LJ and Swin, this game had great scoring balance from the Storm and the Storm were able to punish the Shock for paying so much attention to LJ.

The Shock tried to changing things up with a mix of zone and man-to-man, full-court presses and some crazy arm-waving and yelling, but none of it really had much of an effect. The Storm were dominating on the boards and in pretty much every other way. The Shock's one ploy that seemed to be bearing a little fruit was to keep frustrating LJ (even though it wasn't really helping them get back into the game at all). She went up for a defensive rebound against three Shock players, got hammered and tangled up, and threw her free arm out to clear some space. It looked like a wild punch attempt and she's lucky it didn't connect with anyone. She got called for a foul and was not happy. The lead was up to 25 at this point and shortly afterwards, Coach Agler subbed her out.

Storm vs Shock  38

Getting LJ out of the game didn't help the Shock at all. They were kind of falling apart, turning over the ball, committing fouls on both ends of the court, settling for long jumpers and then letting the Storm beat them to every rebound.

Coach Agler started bringing in the bench late in the second quarter. ARob finally seems like she might be picking up her game. She was the recipient of a great inside pass from Tanisha and was able to finish it with a layup. She got a block on the other end and was in there boxing out and fighting for rebounds. I don't want to get all hopeful or anything, but is she getting better?

Abby got some time in the second quarter as well. She passed on a three on one possession and instead passed the ball off to someone else. After the next Tulsa possession as she was trotting down the court, Coach Agler yelled at her to shoot the ball. Sure enough, she got the ball and was open at the three-point line and took the shot. Of course, she made it.

The second half started with more of the same — the Storm playing great, balanced offense and getting stop after stop on defense. They were starting to put a little razzle dazzle on the end of their fastbreaks with some great no look passing. As I said above, with the lead pushing into the mid-40s, Coach Agler started subbing out the starters with about 5 minutes left in the third and had them all out in the next couple of minutes. The bench played out the rest of the game.

The cool part of that is that while there were some missed chippies, mostly from Ashley and Abby, the bench unit didn't let down at all and kept playing with the same speed and snap as the starters had done at the start of the game. They kept up the quick ball movement and the tough defense. The only thing that didn't happen was a score from Alison Lacy. That was really the only minor, nit-picky negative from the whole game.

The Storm needed this kind of game before they go on that killer east coast road trip against Connecticut, Atlanta and Washington. I'm confident that they have it in them to win any of those games. I'm hoping that because these may be playoff opponents later on that the team will be motivated to play the kind of game we know they can play. It also was great for the bench to play so long and so well. Their confidence has to be on a high right now and we need that if Coach Agler starts to sit the starters in preparation for the playoffs.

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Here's what I want for the end of the season — a 17-0 home record (the first regular season unbeaten home record in the WNBA), only one more loss on the road and no more losses against Western Conference opponents. I want the Storm going into the playoffs full of confidence from the top of the roster down to the end of the bench. If they do all of that, or close to it, I'm hopeful for the Storm's ultimate outcome.

Other notes:

LJ had a black armband (looked like it might have been tape) on her left bicep. No one around us had heard anything about someone passing away and the announcer didn't say anything.

Our seatmate discovered that Pepperdine was spelled incorrectly in the program for Jennifer Lacy's alma mater. They spelled it Perppedine. We joked that only convicts go to "perp"edine. I added that maybe Marion Jones went to Perppedine. Too soon?

Congressman Jay Inslee was sitting courtside with the Storm owners.

After the LJ pregame ceremony, Doppler took the giant LJ head on a stick he had been carrying around and went over to Ohlde and taunted her with it. It was pretty funny and even she was laughing a bit.

Storm vs Shock  7

During the halftime warmups, Doppler was also teasing Marion Jones and had her laughing. She gave him the "I've got my eyes on you" move.

The LJ superfan contest finalists were announced. A little girl with a saccharine-drippingly cute video won. Second place was a man named Jonathan who was battling leukemia. He used being a fan to help him fight his disease and was quoted as saying, "I can't die, I have Storm season tickets."

As I said above, Tulsa had a couple hockey-like line changes for substitutions. The first time, the arena announcer said, "Substitutions for Tulsa, (pause) everybody." The crowd was laughing and gave him an appreciative cheer. he might have gotten a talking to because when Coach Richardson did it again late in the game, the announcer didn't say anything.

One odd thing in the third quarter — Sue started passing in the ball on in-bounds plays. It's usually whoever is playing center or power forward. She did it on three or four in-bounds, even when other players were available and hadn't run down the court yet. A wrinkle from Coach Agler perhaps? Making sure the in-bounds pass is coming from the team's best passer?

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