score: Storm 69 Sparks 67 (W) (6-2)
Game Blog | Pelton's
E | Rick
My expectations going into this game were that the Storm was
not only going to win, buy had to win. With no Leslie
or Parker, this presented a great opportunity for the Storm
to take a free pass of sorts and put some early distance between
them and the presumptive Western Conference leaders (at least
according to the preseason talking heads). A win now (or pair
of wins if things go according to plan on Sunday at LA) aren't
going to be indicative of anything in the long run — that
is, beating a team down two of its heaviest hitters doesn't
really mean you can beat them later. But wins are wins, keeping
LA in the basement as long as possible is better for you, me
and everyone, and taking advantage of other teams' weaknesses
is just good basketball.
Sparks, of course, had other ideas.
was up to his normal head games starting with the opening
tip. Delisha Milton-Jones lined up against LJ, but didn't
jump. Instead she let LJ go up unopposed so that she could
go after LJ's tip. Before the first minute of the game was
done, he unleashed another of his games — beat up on
LJ. D-Nasty tied her arms up with LJ, ended up elbowing LJ
in the chest and managed to get a foul called on Lauren. This
was just the first blow in a night-long barrage of forearms,
elbows and body blows to LJ anytime she ventured into the
danger in doing all that is you take the chance of just pissing
LJ off and she drops 20 on you in the first half, 32 for the
Another Cooper head game — pulling his bigs from the rebounding
positions during free throws and instead having his guards stand
there. The way he did it was odd as well. As all the players
came up to the key to take their spots, one big would step away
and be replaced by a guard. Then another change. Maybe after
the first free throw, they'd make another change. I couldn't
tell if the idea was to save the forwards and centers the run
down the court after the free throws or to try and catch the
Storm napping and end up with our guards defending their bigs
on the other end once the ball started back up the court. Whatever
he was thinking, nothing developed out of it other than weird
visuals of 5 guards lining up for rebounds around the key. I
hadn't really ever seen that before.
other team that the Storm faced were the refs, who were also
playing their own head games. I feel fairly confident in saying
this was one of the worst called games we've seen at the Key
for a long time. It wasn't just the missed or ignored calls
under the basket, it was also that a player would get mugged
by two or three Sparks defenders and nothing gets called but
a Storm player out on the perimeter puts up a forearm and
gets called immediately. Players were getting rocked, not
bumped but rocked, and no call. Players were getting undercut
as they drove to the basket and no call. Ref #31, Amy Bonner
led the way. If I didn't know better, I'd say she was a former
Sparks player who joined the referee ranks.
the Storm were able to cobble together a moderate 8 point
lead going into the half. The Sparks had been competitive
early but really didn't have any answer for Lauren other than
to beat on her. The Storm's defense was doing the job, holding
the Sparks to 28 points.
Everything started well in the third quarter as the Storm built
a 14-point lead. Then the wheels started to come off. Maybe
the Storm got a little comfortable with the double digit lead.
Maybe they thought that without the LA Big 2 that they could
cruise for the rest of the game. Maybe having the starters play
most of the game led to fatigue. Whatever it was, the Sparks
took advantage. The Storm's offense went dead flat. I didn't
keep track, but it seemed like they went without a bucket at
the end of the third for several minutes.
Sparks turned up their defensive pressure while the Storm
got sloppy with the ball. They cut the lead to single digits.
The crowd started to get nervous. They cut the lead to a couple
baskets. The Storm couldn't answer. It wasn't until the Sparks
tied the game at 59 that the Storm finally woke up and were
able to execute on offense.
hit a shot with about 4 minutes left, followed by a gigantic
three and then a layup by Lauren to regain control of the
game. I think everyone started to feel better, until D-Nasty
beat the shot clock with a falling-sideways circus shot. If
something like that could go in, the Sparks might be able
to pull off the win. Ferdinand-Harris and Thompson were too
deadly for a 3 or 4 point lead.
enough, the Sparks hit two more baskets and got it back to
a 1-point game. LJ was fouled with 3 seconds left, but only
hit one for a 2-point lead.
The Sparks inbounded the ball and Tina came around the three-point
line with Swin on her like glue. Tina got about halfway past
the center of the court and turned towards the basket to shoot.
Swin got a hand on the ball and made what is probably the Storm's
defensive play of the season so far when she got a clean steal.
The clock ran out and the Storm started to celebrate.
without The Diva or The Diva Jr., the Sparks are still dangerous.
They haven't had to deal with the confluence of egos quite
yet, so Tina, Betty and Marie are still able to be the big
dogs and get the playing time and shots. I really don't see
how this team is going to keep it together once all the egos
are really in place. In the unlikely event that they find
a way to make it work, this game and Sunday's game at LA are
vital for the Storm.
not worried about our starters. LJ, Sue and Swin are doing
their jobs. Camille and Tanisha are bringing energy and finding
ways to fill up their stat lines. It's worrisome that the
bench was a bit of a no-show tonight. We've seen them perform
will in batches so far, and without significant playing time
they can't have an effect. Put them in Coach, let them do
of the music played during the game was Michael Jackson, including
"Beat It" during the new player intro video.
new Doppler is more active during the game and it seems like
he stays out much longer than the old Doppler. He spends more
time in the stands and is a little more interactive with the
fans. His pants don't stay up, so some things haven't changed.
of local celebs in the stands tonight, led by the NCAA champion
UW Softball team. In addition to being introduced in the stands,
they came down during a fourth quarter timeout to help Doppler
throw t-shirts into the stands. Their superstar pitcher, Danielle
Lawrie, pitched shirts passed Doppler. Even though she was
taking it easy, she was still smoking the shirts passed Doppler.
Facing her real speed would be scary.
were also members of the Seahawks (not introduced by name),
Jean Enersen and Kathi Goertsen, an NBA player who lives in
Seattle (I don't remember his name), and Clarence, Betty's
half-brother, decked out in Sparks' yellow. He got a well-deserved
cheer when he was put up on the big screen.