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Final score: Storm 76 – Sparks 75 (W) (28-6)

Attendance | 9686

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

Game Photos | Scott E | Rick | Scott L

Could they have played that one any closer at the end? Do they want to kill us? Drama and theatrics aside, this stage is done. The Storm finished the regular season with a record tying 28 wins and a record making 17-0 home record. Let's not forget that they also have the best road record in the league this season at 11-6. They broke the record for best Seattle professional team win percentage at .824. And if I'm not mistaken, they have one of the best point differentials in WNBA history at 7.9 (they had it up to 10 for awhile there).

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The game was tighter than I expected it would be. Even after the lackluster performances we've seen lately with extended rest for starters and whatever was going on in the team's collective head the other night against Minnesota, I thought we'd see more of the early to mid-season domination we know the Storm are capable of. Yes, again, the other team had "more" to play for than the Storm. LA was still chasing a playoff spot period while we were playing to set a record for regular season home wins. LA had a little more desperation about them and they didn't let the Storm run rampant the whole game.

The Storm's attitude, their body language, everything looked much, much better than all of it did against Minnesota. Their heads were definitely in this game. Their energy and determination were there from the tip. The only black mark against them was on defense. They weren't rotating very well and were allowing the Sparks to hit cutters under the basket for easy layups.

They also had a serious problem with Tina Thompson. She was hitting jumpers like crazy, including some of the highest arching three point shots I think I've ever seen. It didn't really matter who was guarding her either, she was shooting over everyone. I got the distinct impression that she had it in her head to personally keep the crowd out of the game and to deny the Storm from getting their 17-0 record.

The Storm countered with some fantastic individual play of their own, led by Camille and LJ. During the second half especially, Camille was the Storm's go-to player. LJ had been lighting up the Sparks in the first half because they were switching on defense and she ended up with guards defending her in the post. The Storm fed her the ball and she either scored or passed back out for scoring. In the second half, the Sparks started double- and triple-teaming LJ which left Camille open and she took advantage. I think she had something like 4 or 5 straight baskets for the Storm. She finished the game with a new career scoring best.

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As I said, the game was very close through the first half and into the third quarter. I kept anticipating that the Storm would blow it open and go on a run. All it would take was a couple defensive stops and some solid execution on offense to break the trading baskets routine that had the score tied or bouncing around single digit leads for either team.

The run finally came at the beginning of the fourth quarter (of course, when else would the Storm take control — any earlier would be less dramatic). They started the quarter with two defensive stops and three unanswered baskets. They pushed their lead up to 12 points and it looked liked this might be it – the Storm were going to put the Sparks away and take their 17th win at home.

The Sparks came right back, however, with an 8-0 run. The worst part of it came on a totally bogus foul call against Tanisha as she blocked a three-point attempt by Noelle Quinn. The block was clean, even on replay, and the only thing that they could have called was that Tanisha got part of Quinn's hand on the ball. Well, the hand is part of the ball according to the rules — except for tonight. So, instead of a clean block, we got a foul and they got three foul shots which Quinn made. LJ missed a shot on the other end, the Sparks got the ball and Tina hit another three that almost hit the scoreboard it was so high. Our finally-comfortable 12 point lead was down to 4.

The lead stayed there until about two minutes left when the Sparks hit two baskets, including yet another Thompson three. They took the lead. The Storm were having all sorts of problems scoring a basket. LJ hit a jumper at about the 5:30 mark and that ended the Storm's scoring until Tanisha hit the eventual game winner almost 5 minutes later. They missed 8 shots in the meantime and had a shot clock violation.

Even the shot the Tanisha made wasn't easy. It was a fade to the baseline jump shot at the end of a shot clock that bounced around the rim, taunting us, before it finally fell through and giving the Storm the lead by 1.

LA got a final attempt with a second left on the clock. Marie Ferdinand-Harris took a three for the win and missed. LJ grabbed the rebound and that was it.

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After so many blowouts, so many come from behind wins (even being down by 20 for one game), the Storm complete their regular season at home with a nail-biter against an arch-rival and potential first round playoff opponent.

Interestingly, the Storm swept both Phoenix and Los Angeles 5-0 this season. Phoenix coach Corey Gaines has been banking on the odds that one team beating another 7 times in a season is just too difficult. I'm sure Jennifer Gillom is thinking the same thing.

All I can say is that if the Storm bring their A game and play the way we know they can play, I'm confident they will indeed beat Phoenix, Los Angeles or anyone else they end up meeting in the playoffs.

Other notes:

Everyone's favorite Jamaican was at the game, sitting courtside, and leading the crowd in cheers and during Doppler's train.

I saw Barbara Turner up on the concourse before the game. It took a couple of seconds for her to register and she was gone in the crowd before I could go back and say hello.

As the team entered the floor to the sounds of ACDC's Hell's Bells, all the announcer said to start it off was "16-0."

We were apparently fans 3001+ because we missed out on the "I am Home Court Advantage" t-shirt giveaway. Too bad they only printed 3000. The lower bowl would have been a sea of green if everyone had gotten one.

It was Fan Appreciation Night and I have to say that it was the best one ever, and not just because our row won a set of signed bobbleheads. They were giving away stuff to whole sections, whole rows, the VIP sections, signed jerseys, signed balls, signed all-star jerseys, tons of stuff. Best. Fan Appreciation Game. Ever.

threefrom60 and oldfan_newteam got the Alaska Airlines courtside seat upgrades and looked like they had a good time in the pimp seats.