WNBA Finals, Game 3
score: Storm 87 Dream 84 (W) (3-0)
Score | Jayda's
Game Blog | Live
from Press Row
E | Scott
L | Toni
found a way.
has to be the moral of the story, the key takeaway, the overarching
theme for the 2010 WNBA Champion Seattle Storm.
found a way.
we stood there behind the Storm bench, the hundred or so Storm
fans who made the trip to Atlanta, exulting and crashing with
each made three and each missed free throw, each defensive
lock down and each inexplicable shot by McCoughtry, we knew
that in the end they would find a way.
was interesting as we left the arena (after nearly being picked
up and carried out by a 5-foot-nothing usher who was starting
to get annoyed at being ignored with her pleas for us to "please
exit the arena") how many fans agreed with me that on
one level, this win was a bit anti-climactic. It was partially
because the season seemed to end so soon, and not on our court,
and what do we do now?
was also a strong feeling that of course we won. Of course
we swept. I think to a fan, the sentiment was that the Storm
were absolutely going to be Champions. Yes, we may have had
our doubts about Game 3, but there ultimately was no doubt.
that sink in a bit and tell me if you didn't think the same
had no doubt that this team would win. I had every confidence
that they would hit the big shot, that Coach Agler would make
the right move, that LJ would be the best player on the court,
that even if someone had a boneheaded play one minute they
would come right back and do something amazing the next. I
knew from the top of my head down to my green underwear (and
yes, I wore green underwear for every playoff game - NOT the
same pair) that this team would find a way.
yes, after the cheers died down, the high fives stopped stinging,
the confetti made it to the floor (Awase was prepared and
brought several bags of confetti, just in case) and as we
wound our way through the bowels of Philips Arena looking
for the loading dock to cheer the team bus, the sense that
"of course we won - it was the only possible outcome"
was hard to shake off.
get me wrong, we were hopping around, screaming, hugging,
high fiving, cheering, chanting and smiling like fools at
the end of that game. There really is nothing quite like being
with a group of Storm fans on a road trip, let alone on a
Finals road trip. And man oh man, I hope it all came through
on the TV because we were rocking Philips like it was KeyArena
mayhem started well before the game at the Dantanna's restaurant
in CNN Center. Nerd2, longtime Storm fan representative on
RebKell's and recent addition to the Stormfans.org forum,
had the foresight to organize a prefunk and was able to get
the word out so that nearly 40 fans showed up. A couple people
were making signs, the tinsel-haired ladies from section 125
unveiled their own version of the iconic "Not in our
house" sign which read "Not in your house either."
Every time a new group of fans would arrive, they'd get a
cheer. We of course talked hoops and everyone had their own
predictions about the game - the prevailing opinion was that
if the game was close at the end, Atlanta would probably win
since they were at home (shows what we know, just being cautious
and respectful of what the Dream can do offensively I think).
We ate some good food and the serving staff was great. They
comped us our (non-alcoholic) drinks and waved off attempts
to pay. We posed for a couple group photos and headed out
quick Atlanta geography lesson: Philips is basically attached
to the gigantic CNN Center, which is next door to the Olympic
Centennial Park (home to their Aquarium and the World of Coke
Museum. Yes, we did the World of Coke... and we bought stuff.
Freakin' tourists). Downtown Atlanta is really fairly compact.
The only time we cabbed downtown was for speed's sake - it
was all within comfortable walking distance of all the hotels.
got up to the will-call windows early. Someone made the observation
that only Seattle fans insist on getting to the game not only
by tip-off, but when the doors open. I know Angie and I get
all twitchy if we aren't in our seats within minutes of the
doors being opened. Atlanta fans, not so much. I don't think
the seating really looked near capacity until the third quarter.
Angie went up to the concourse at the beginning of the second
for some drinks and almost missed the whole quarter because
so many people were up there instead of watching the game.
I really don't get that.
Storm fan energy started to crank up as more and more of us
showed up at the will-call. The Dream fans that were there
were a little taken aback I think. We did a couple cheers.
People were joking around and laughing. Then a local news
crew showed up and started calling out to interview fans who
had come from around the country. There were Storm fans from
Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida, Canada (our very own JenDub)
and of course the Emerald City. As soon as the camera started
recording, we started letting loose. The big signs came out,
a couple of chants started going (including a sweep, sweep,
sweep chant that made a few of us worry that fate was being
tempted) and we were echoing off the walls. The Atlanta fans
took it all in stride and most of them were willing to talk
a little good natured smack, pose for some pictures, and basically
be gracious hosts.
got inside and made a beeline for our seats, right smack behind
the Storm bench. My first impressions of Philips Arena were
that it was a bit gaudy. The concourse had tons of food vendors,
easily two or three times as many as KeyArena, but it felt
more like a mall food court that was on steroids. There were
signs and banners and reader boards and giant plastic hawks
and visual distractions everywhere. Inside, one whole side
of the arena was dedicated to luxury boxes. They started about
the same place as they do in the Key, right at the top of
the lower bowl. But here, they go up six levels all the way
to the very high ceiling. With that wall of glass on one side
and equally tall black curtains on the other three sides,
it felt fairly cave-like. At least the lighting on the court
was decent. Actually, with the walls and ceiling being so
dark, focus was effectively directed to the court. For being
an NBA arena and having all those luxury boxes, you'd think
their scoreboards would be top notch. Not so. It looked like
they salvaged a high school gym for the two boards that showed
the player stats on the end behind one of the baskets. For
all the problems we seem to have sometimes with our stat boards
not working, at least they are readable and give you some
information. These ones were lit up with what looked like
old Christmas lights and half of them were out. I need my
stats during the game dammit. Thankfully, the WNBA Courtside
app was working. I need my fix. I. Need. It.
a critical mass of Storm fans (what is a group of Storm fans
called anyway? A Thunder maybe?) got to our section, the chanting
started. We chanted for each player that walked past. We chanted
for Adia. We chanted for Dick. We chanted for Jayda, who looked
mightily uncomfortable. We did a "I say Nancy, you say
Darsch" chant. Missy, Coach Agler, the owners, everyone
heard it when they walked past. It was pretty funny as the
few Dream fans who had the misfortune of sitting in the middle
of this rowdy mess showed up and realized what they were in
for. There were definitely some worried faces... and we didn't
the introductions loomed, I took it upon myself to make use
of the Meganator and do our normal pregame warmup routine
- you know, everyone take a deep breath, high five the fan
next to you, etc. I had Angie prompting me with the correct
order so I wouldn't miss anything. I was yelling so loud and
putting so much into it, I honestly strained my back a bit.
And, if I might say so myself, my timing was perfect because
as soon as we finished the Storm were introduced and we segued
right into cheering for the team.
Dream intros were kind of weak, at least compared to the show
we've been getting before each Storm playoff game. I don't
know about you, but that home court advantage video gives
me the damn chills every time I see it (and not because I'm
in it - not sure what they were thinking on that one). The
Dream got nothing but a little smoke beyond what I assume
is their normal introduction routine. It left me very "meh."
Let it begin.
not going to go into exhaustive detail about the game since
you all have seen it, probably multiple times by the time
you read this. For the most part, it followed the same pattern
we've seen in the last two games almost to the point that
I could do some copy and paste and call my Gameday done.
were important differences, however, mainly in how the Dream
contained LJ for large portions of the game and how the Storm
didn't contain Angel much at all for equally large portions
of the game.
the first two games, the Dream were largely able to keep LJ
from lighting them up early. Credit their coaching staff for
finally making that adjustment. LJ had been able to seemingly
score at will in Games 1 and 2. She had been putting on an
offensive show, hitting from three, hitting short-range fade-away
jumpers, taking in layups against two and three defenders
and getting to the foul line often. Tonight, she had a ton
of trouble getting started. The Dream were fronting her more
successfully and forcing passes in to her way up which resulted
in a couple turnovers or forcing her to jump so high for them
that she ended up losing position. They also came at her much
more quickly with the double teams and made her look to pass
back out instead of looking for her shot. The good result
for the Dream was that she was held to single digits through
the first half and into the third quarter. The good result
for the Storm was that the other Storm players were able to
get their own offense going and we ended up with maybe the
most balanced scoring out of our starters for any of our playoff
the other end, Angel looked like she was going to outscore
the Storm all on her own. For as balanced as the Storm scoring
was, the Dream scoring went like this: Angel, Izi, Erika a
little and then a big goose egg. McCoughtry ended up with
35, a new Finals record I think. There were times she would
get the ball and go coast-to-coast, against one, two or four
Storm defenders and still hit a basket. Everyone in the arena
knew she was going to do it, but the Storm seemed powerless
at times to stop her.
this exposed one of the biggest weaknesses in the Storm defense
- putting pressure on the ball handler going up the court.
The Storm just don't do it, even when they know a player like
Angel or Izi is always looking to get some speed and blow
past defenders on their way to the hoop. No one would pick
up the ball handler until the three point line, if then, and
by then it was often too late. I really didn't get that. Meet
her at half court at least and slow her down or force her
to change direction. Way too many times, Angel, Izi or The
Miller would get to the three point line unmolested and either
drive in or stop for a wide-open three.
even more infuriating thing about that was it always seemed
to happen when the Storm were able to oust their lead out
a bit. Again, carbon copy to the last couple games, the Storm
would get out a few points and then the Dream would respond
and more than often it was the exact scenario I described
about carbon copy - the first half ended the same way it had
for the last two games, with a buzzer beating Dream three
to put them up by one. Tanisha was guarding Angel and went
under a screen instead of staying with Angel, which gave McCoughtry
all the room she needed to stop, pop and splash. Ack, and
cue the inflatable weirdness (see Other Notes).
the game, I had been talking to someone about how the Storm
might pull off a win. In my scenario, the Storm needed to
hang with the Dream through the first half and keep them from
building too much of a lead. At some point in the third or
very early fourth quarters, the Storm would need to clamp
down on defense and kick out their own lead of at least 10
points, but even that wouldn't be safe. My thought was that
given the Dream's relative youth, being down by double digits
late in the game might be enough to get them desperate and
rattled, forcing them to make mistakes on offense and fouls
did indeed end up happening, but not before the Storm fell
apart and let the Dream take a 5 point lead. The note I wrote
about halfway through the third quarter was, "the wheels
are falling off the Storm." The first half of the third
quarter was an ugly display of Storm turnovers, fouls and
generally unfocused, tired play. The Dream only increased
their halftime score by four, but they finally had the crowd
behind them and it felt like they had firmly taken control
of momentum and the game.
Storm took a timeout and things didn't get much better very
quickly. Sue drove the ball into the paint and got hacked,
but didn't get a call. Going the other way, she just jumped
in front of McCoughtry and got called for a blocking foul
so that she could make a point to Kurt Walker. Sometimes that
helps, but that particular foul put the Storm in the penalty.
Kind of a costly point to make.
back down the court, Swin was open at the top of the three
point line, but hesitated and passed on the shot. I really
didn't like her body language at all. She looked passive and
indecisive. She had missed a couple earlier and they really
were in her head.
this point, I was worried about losing this game. LJ was stuck
at 6 points. Swin was passing up shots and Sue was getting
frustrated enough with the refs that she was making some poor
game decisions. On top of that, Angel was on track to drop
a ton of points and the Storm weren't stopping her at all.
It smelt like a Dream win in the making.
for that one thing. The Storm found a way.
the sudden, the Storm start finding LJ in the post with single
coverage and she goes to work. That opens up the perimeter
and all the sudden Swin is hitting back-to-back threes. All
the sudden Camille, LJ and Swin are boxing the hell out of
everyone and ruling the boards. All the sudden Sue and Tanisha
start wrapping up the Dream guards like heavy blankets.
yes, before any of us know it, the Storm have put together
a 16-1 run, put the Dream on their heels and completely taken
control of the game. Through the fourth quarter, the Storm
are able to maintain a 9-11 point lead as the Dream resort
to fouling and putting the Storm on the line.
love being right.
course, being a game in this series, the Storm didn't keep
that lead to the end. The Dream, or rather Angel McCoughtry,
came back by getting fouled on three point shot after three
point shot (4 of those for the game, has to be a record) that
aged Coach Agler by a year or two each time. Add on to that
the fact that the Storm AGAIN were missing free throws at
the end of the game - Tanisha missed two for crying out loud
- and the Dream closed to within 1 on an Izi drive and layup.
got fouled and with 6 seconds on the clock, stepped up to
the line and drained two free throws to put the Storm back
up to three.
Dream had some time left, enough for a quick play. There was
no question who was going to take it. Luckily for us, Angel
was feeling the pressure. On her last trip to the free throw
line before the final play, she had to walk away from the
line before each of her three shots to gather herself. That
was like blood in the water. While she hit two of the three
free throws, you could tell she was feeling it. So, on the
final play, she gets up to the three point line and takes
a straight on shot. Miss. The Dream get the ball back and
pass out to The Miller and time runs out before she can get
the shot up and over Tanisha.
over. The Storm sweep the Dream by a total of 8 points over
Storm are the 2010 WNBA Champions.
ensued on the court and in KeyArena East, aka section 116.
can I say? The next half hour was a bit a blur of us cheering
every little thing the players did on the podium, going crazy
every time one of them turned to us to wave, say thank you,
or blow us a kiss. The Dream fans filed out pretty quickly,
not wanting to stick around and watch the trophy being handed
to another team. I don't know if ESPN showed the stands at
all during or after the ceremony, but it was basically us,
the media, the Storm and a handful of fans dotting the rest
of the seating.
finally got the boot and decided to head down to where the
team bus would come out. We got down there eventually, but
found out it would be at least another half-hour or longer
before they came out, so most of us decided to head to the
Westin where they were staying and stalk them there. Once
there, we congregated in a lobby. Eventually, Karen Bryant
came by and said the team still hadn't left the arena, but
she would make sure they would stop by on their way upstairs.
The owners came by next and were happy to see us. We got more
info about the parade, which you all know about by now (and
will have occurred by the time this gets posted). That started
a flurry of flight changes. I can tell you the airlines made
a pretty penny off of us this time.
team finally made it, but really didn't stop to talk. We got
some high fives, a couple people got some pictures and a lot
of thank yous. You know, that was enough for most of us. A
big group went up to the restaurant at the top of the Westin,
a rotating gig on the 72nd floor, and closed the place down.
They actually had been closing but graciously agreed to stay
open so we could celebrate a little. And we did, and it was
good. Nothing like a couple pina coladas to sooth a sore throat.
found a way. I'd love to think the hundred or so Storm fans
who were there made a difference. I think in objective counting-for-points
terms, we forced at least four free throw misses. We got Bales
for two for sure and I think we got Izi for two as well. She
shot 50% at then line at home. That's not natural. That was
a subjective standpoint, I have to believe we buoyed the team
when they needed it. There were times that it felt like we
were out-yelling the Dream crowd. We were projecting just
as much energy as we were sound. In the end, we did as much
as any group of fans could on the road, and I feel like we
made a difference.
WNBA freakin' Champions.
now it's starting to sink in.
HUGE, GIGANTIC ALL-CAPS THANK YOU to the Dream ticket staff,
especially Lauren and Richard, for helping us get that section
and for helping get so many of us in it. We wouldn't have
had nearly the impact on the game if we had been spread out
all over the arena or gulaged up away from the court. For
all the WNBA fans out there, you can't go wrong if you call
these great people if you plan to go to a Dream game.
Thompson was sitting courtside, directly across from the Storm
bench. Looked like she was texting most of the game. During
the second half, the arena crew started putting anybody famous
up on the big screen. They showed one of the Atlanta Hawks,
a couple Falcons, former Falcons coach Dan Reeves (he was
the only one I recognized) and had a camera crew over to show
Tina, but game play started again so they didn't get to her.
They never made it back, so the one prominent WNBA star at
the game didn't get introduced, but the football and NBA players
did. Ouch. Tina wasn't the only WNBA player there, however.
I recognized eight or nine. It took same double takes because
seeing them in street clothes and out of context can make
of Storm family was at the game. LJ's mom and dad. Tanisha
had a small entourage including her father. She looks just
like him. One touching moment right after the Storm got their
Championship hats and shirts - Tanisha came right over and
gave her shirt to her dad, who then proudly started holding
it up and having other family members take photos of him with
it. Swin, Sue, Camille and Le'coe also had family and friends
at the game. I really think the only ones without a bunch
of people there were the non-LJ international players. But
then they had us.
passes for in-game entertainment at other arenas always mystifies
me. The Dream had a dance team that were all adults and might
have had cheerleaders, although they might have been members
of the dance team doing double duty. They had halfcourt shots
like we do and their mascot was out doing his thing, although
he made fewer appearances than Doppler does. He actually may
have injured himself trying to mess with us. He came over,
stood on the hockey wall and proceeded to moon us. As he was
dismounting from that, he slipped off the wall and fell into
the second row of courtside seats. He brushed it off and continued
tight-roping his way along the wall. I really don't remember
seeing much more of him after that. All of that was pretty
standard stuff. The weird came when they did their t-shirt
tosses. They weren't Dream shirts, they were Meet the Browns
shirts as in Tyler Perry presents Meet the Browns on TBS,
very funny. The crowd went crazy for them. It made me wonder
if it wasn't some sort of experiment to see how lame a thing
they could offer up before the fans would say, "No thanks,
that's just too lame." Somehow, Meet the Browns shirts
exceed that threshold. But that wasn't the weirdest part.
The majority of the halftime was taken up by three inflatable
animal-NBA player hybrids - Shaquille O'Seal, Dennis Frogman
(Rodman, if that isn't a signal as to how old these things
were) and Yao FlaMingGo - dancing, if you want to call it
that. It was extremely odd, a little uncomfortable (especially
when the seal came over and wagged its little tail on the
scorer's table in front of Adia for like 30 seconds) and just
bizarre. And it went on for what seemed like 10 minutes. Freakish.
with signs? Advantage Storm fans, and I don't mean what you
saw in Games 1 and 2 versus Game 3, I mean what we had with
us versus all of the Dream fans. Seriously. There were maybe
10-15 signs that were pro-Dream. We easily doubled that. I
guess the Dream fans are still learning this being only their
third year, but come on. This was the Finals. Crack out a
sharpie or something.
after the trophy presentation, Donna Orender did an interview
with Dick and Adia. As soon as she was done, I yelled over
to her, thanking her for having the trophy presentation on
the court instead of in the locker room or on a practice court
like they did in Phoenix. Talk about anti-climactic if they
had done it somewhere else. Once she started to walk away,
someone started an "All-Star Game" chant. She smiled,
nodded and waved as she left. I think she knows - we want
the damn All-Star Game at KeyArena.
kind of melancholy moment. The Philips arena staff wasted
no time in ripping the WNBA Finals logo stickers off the court.
I think a Storm fan ended up with one, although they may never
get it pulled back out of the giant wad it became as the two
guys pulled it up.
may into the Westin to wait for the team, I ran into Jenny
Boucek outside. She was forbidden by league rules to enter
Philips Arena and had to watch the game on TV. She was understandably
irritated and upset about missing out on being with and helping
the team play and win the game. She will be getting a ring,
as is only right. I think this whole staff travel restriction
business is one thing the league tried in order to save money
that has failed utterly. Some teams openly flaunted rule,
so the only ones that were harmed by the rule - that teams
could only travel with one assistant coach - were the ones
that followed it. I really think the league should rethink
and drop this rule. Let Jenny do her job, regardless of the
wrote the above Gameday on the plane coming back to Seattle.
I'm very happy to add that after tonight's celebration event
at KeyArena, I feel like I got the finish that was lacking
in Atlanta. Hearing from all the players and Coach Agler,
seeing the video recap of the season and playoffs, hearing
the cheers of more than 5000 fans and getting the confetti
raining down from the rafters were all exactly what I needed.
That was the perfect way to end the playoffs, at home with
the trophies and lots of confetti. Once again, thank you to
the Storm front office and the ownership for knowing the fans
and delivering what we want and need, even if we didn't know
what that was before we got it. Thanks and see you all next
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