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Final score: Storm 91 – Mercury 85 (W) (21-2)

Submitted by | LaurenRules

Ancora Women’s Choir. Exquisite rendering in three-part harmony, including lovely optional high notes.

Fashion Statement
Brian went casual in black pants and a black T-Shirt. Nancy in a brown suit again, with a yellow top. Jenny in a white dress with black polka dots. On the other side, Corey Gaines returned to the GQ look with a charcoal gray suit, light gray shirt and silver tie. He does know how to dress.

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Arrival at the Key Arena mercifully lacked such exciting things as missing wallets, frantic parking dashes, long lines, or hymns. The line had a new "searcher" who minutely examined every nook and cranny of my innocent purse. Maybe next time, I'll just lock my purse in the trunk, or carry my driver's license in my pocket or something.

I arrived into my seat just in time to catch my first glimpse (this season, anyway) of Kara Braxton. Wow. She's HUGE. I know Alison Bales is taller, but Kara is built. She was also singing along with the music — DJ Khaled's "And All I Do Is Win," if anyone cares. On the other hand, both Smith and Bonner are thin to the point of my wanting to by them milkshakes. I think Bonner's thighs are smaller than my biceps, and I'm not even that big.
Phoenix in general seemed happy and chipper during the warm-up, as if they knew something we didn't. It made me anxious.

So did the announcers, going on and on about our great record, how we were number one, the 20-2 Storm (and so on!). It felt as if we were tempting fate. It was amusing to hear the “Evil Empire” theme from Star Wars played when Phoenix was introduced. Taurasi was also booed when she was introduced.
Slightly different format to the introductions this time, thanks to ESPN — the anthem was later and the starters were the only ones introduced. Also, the junior co-captains only got to meet the Storm captains, not sure why. Long, long wait until the tip-off.

First Quarter
Lauren won the tip, but the game got off to a slow start with missed shots on both ends and a really icky Tanisha turnover, chucking the ball right out of bounds. This was right after a Candice Dupree kick ball, though, so the honors were even.

Camille drew a foul against Tangela Smith and we call got to sit down. Smith missed a jump shot and T snagged the rebound, but Camille missed a layup. Zooming back the other way was Phoenix and DT hit a three. Lauren answered with a really sweet turnaround jumper, but, almost before we could blink, Dupree was on the other end the floor hitting a layup. This really was the story of the first half. They really just outran us. That, plus all of their shots fell, few of ours did, and the refs called us for breathing on them and didn't call ANYTHING on them, except a foul or two on Smith. But then, I'm getting ahead of myself, maybe because this was a half I'd really rather forget.

Sue missed a jumper. DT grabbed the rebound. T stole the ball from Taurasi, but couldn't convert. Johnson grabbed the rebound, and streaked to the other end of the floor and hit a layup. Swin drove and scored. Dupree scored. We were really playing the game at their pace. Camille turned the ball over. DT hit another jumper. Missed shots, with a really nice steal from Sue, but no points. T put up a jumper, but CD blocked her and Taylor hit a three. OUCH. Just like that, we were down 6-14.

Svet and Le'coe came in, Camille and T sat. Lauren hit a jumper off a really nice feed from Svet. They clearly had scouted the last game, as every time Svet twitched from the perimeter, someone ran out to guard her (thus freeing up Lauren). DT missed a three. Sue snagged the board, drove and scored. Johnson hit a three. Ick. Le'coe made one of her fabulous post moves, was fouled by CD.

Official Timeout
The Storm tumbler, or, as Shellie put it, “a sippy cup for adults” in Storm green. Alaska Airlines seat upgrade.

Le'coe hit both free throws. Smith missed a jumper, but Bonner snagged the rebound (ouch!) and put in a layup. She is really fast — kind of reminds me of Izi — but is taller (and thinner). Unfortunately for us, she has mastered the backdoor cut and basically romped her way to the basket with that all half. Lauren answered with a layup. Sue stole the ball from Swanier and fed Svet, who fed Lauren again, this time with a jump shot. DT roared right back with a jump shot. Lauren drew a non-shooting foul on Smith, her second. T came off the bench and drove right to the basket and scored on a running layup.

DT missed another jumper. An ugly little interval ensued, where Svet and Le'coe put up shot after shot and were fouled repeatedly but no calls. Crowd getting restive, then irritated, then ANGRY. LOUD booing. After Braxton blocked a Le'coe shot, Swanier snagged the rebound, and fed a speaking Taurasi, who scored. LOUDER boos.

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Svet turned the ball over and then fouled Braxton - and then looked incredibly annoyed with herself. That was a foul, unlike the unbelievably stupid call on Swin a few minutes later. Props to our players for restraining themselves. T had Swin's back, though and stole the ball from Braxton, who promptly bowled her over. Even the idiot refs couldn't ignore that call. Lauren missed a jumper and Johnson grabbed the rebound, feeding, of COURSE, DT, who scored. Finally, a smidgen of luck for the Storm, when CD fouled Le'coe with 0.3 seconds to go. Le'coe hit both free throws.

SEA 20 – 25 PHX

Go Green Tip. Storm Dance Troupe. Agler seemed a lot less… volatile this game, more focused. We were outrebounded 6-10 in the first quarter. It was interesting to watch Braxton's strategy (if that's what it was) — she basically draped herself over Lauren like a 6' 6”, 200-plus pound towel. (Also, I'm sorry, but there's no way she only weighs 225 no matter what the roster says.) I think the point was to wear Lauren out.

Second Quarter
TJ missed a shot. Le'coe whistled for a foul. PT very kindly tossed the ball out of bounds for. Le'coe schooled Braxton with a GORGEOUS post move and put down a layup, never mind that she's at least four inches shorter and however many pounds lighter. Sadly, Braxton found a zooming Bonner, who put up a layup. T turned the ball over on the next play, and TJ stole it and put down a layup. I must say, Johnson is a lot less annoying now that she's not a Spark. I really couldn't stand her when she played for them, and now all I feel is for her is the generalized, gametime hatred I do for all of Seattle's opponents. Agler decided to talk things over and called a timeout.

“Bowling with Doppler” skit. As others have already mentioned, one of the pins was wearing Taurasi's jersey and her face. Doppler knocked over, body-slammed it and tossed it off in disgust. It was also Jason's birthday. (Jason is Doppler's Assistant).

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T missed a jumper. Phoenix missed two shots. Sue drove and scored again. TJ airballed a three, much to the delight of the Seattle crowd, who was itching to get into the game. Lots of hoots and scorn followed. More missed shots. Braxton clearly traveled, wasn't called for it and fed Taylor, who scored. More booing.

Le'coe missed a shot. Dupree actually missed a layup, but, sadly, Braxton got position under the basket and grabbed and shot until she finally hit one. Camille and Le'coe were trying, but they were basically bouncing off of her arms and shoulders. Sue drove and scored again, keeping us in more-or-less contact by sheer will. She picked up a (questionable) foul on the next play and Lauren came back in. CD hit both free throws. Storm down by nine. Crowd unhappy.

Lauren drove to the basket and hit a layup, drawing a foul on Taylor. AND ONE! Crowd very pleased. Bonner did one of those super-annoying backdoor cuts on us, and Sue allegedly fouled her. And one. Storm back down by nine. Camille drove, drew a foul on Smith and split the free throws again. Lauren, however, was in position to grab the board, and, just as Braxton had done a few minutes earlier, got set, shot, grabbed the board, shot and scored. It only took our Aussie two shots. I'm just saying.

Dupree, Bonner and DT scored in quick succession, DT hitting a three and we were down by thirteen. Gritty slugfest ensued, with no one scoring. Our shots just weren’t falling. Le’coe got to face DT in a jump ball and we got the ball — but still no points. Dupree fouled Lauren and basically landed all over back and falling from QUITE high. Timeout on the floor.

Trivia contest
I had no idea Corey Gaines was drafted by the Sonics, in 1988 no less. He's forty-five years old — who knew?

Lauren hit both free throws and was promptly called for fouling Taurasi on the next play. Judging from the expression on LJ's face and the way she was gingerly rubbing her abdomen, the reigning MVP has sharp elbows. Missed shots and turnovers. Swin was whistled for a REALLY stupid foul on Taurasi, who was really milking it. She hit both free throws.

Lauren put up a jumper. Bonner blocked her, but Le'coe snagged the rebound and scored. Bonner retaliated with a three on the next play, and TJ hit a two. Braxton fouled LJ. Sue hit a jumper, but TJ answered with one of her own. Goom and doom.

SEA 38 – 56 PHX

Storm Dance Troupe introductions and soloes. Very cool. I have to say, though, does anyone NOT like hanging out with their friends? If so, why are they your friends?

Very ugly stats, from a Storm point of view. We shot 37% to their 61%. They were 5/17 from three, we were 0/7. Worse, we only had three assists.

Third Quarter
The very first play demonstrated this was now a changed game. T blocked Smith's shot, plucked the board out of thin air and fed Lauren who hit a layup — and drew a foul against DT. LJ missed the free throw. T "momentum-shifter" Wright picked DT’s pocket on the very next play and drove and scored. Abruptly, there was air in the arena, especially when the usual Seattle stifling defense came out to play and Phoenix woke to the realization that they were actually going to have to work for every point.

Phoenix picked up two quick fouls — one on Johnson, the other on Smith — and, as Scott has already described, Smith went into a major snit, bent over and repeatedly checking for imaginary blood, thus forcing the refs to acknowledge her. It showed bad sportsmanship (sportspersonship?) and she quite deserved the boos that rang down on her head.

Nothing daunted, Lauren hit her free throws. Phoenix scored — DT and Bonner, with Bonner hitting an “and one” off of a Camille foul. Sue turned the ball over, and Camille missed a layup. A few more missed shots, and then T “difference maker” Wright stepped up again, this time hitting a layup off of a nice assist from Camille. More missed shots. Dupree picked up her fifth foul (which was later charged to DT — or, at least, a foul was), and Camille very nicely grabbed the back of her jersey and hauled her back onto her feet when she would have hit the floor hard. I love this team.

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Official Timeout
Another half-court shootout. The guy won. Nice prize, too – a stay at the Seattle Westin. I think I need a vacation.

Lauren missed both free throws – can't remember the last time THAT happened. More missed shots. She hit a jumper that was so vigorous, she almost landed on the camera guy on the baseline, and promptly sank her free throw off of a foul from Taylor. More missed shots from Braxton. Really don't know why Phoenix didn't go to Taylor instead (except Swin was guarding her), but that certainly isn't my problem.

Swin drove coast-to-coast and scored. Two quick fouls on Seattle players were called — Sue and Swin. Incensed booing. Johnson fouled Sue who put down both free throws. Really idiotic play followed, as Scott has described — it looked as though Swin was shoved into Braxton, away from the ball, and, yet, somehow, Taurasi ended up shooting two – even though it was only the fourth one of the game. VERY ANGRY FANS. Of course, Taurasi kept up these antics the whole rest of the game. She also hit both free throws.

Lauren hit a two. Taurasi drove right in to Le'coe, who doubled over, hurt — from what I could tell, DT's knee slammed into her thigh. She had to be helped off of the floor, blinking back tears — and the idiot refs charged her with a foul. Taurasi split the free throws. Svet snagged the rebound and fed Camille who not only hit the layup, she drew a foul on Taurasi and hit the free throw.

Bonner put up a layup and the ball got stuck. Phoenix got possession. Braxton put up a shot, but Swin blocked it and the crowd went nuts. T snagged the board and fed Swin, who sank a jumper. Storm within four. We were walking them down. Bonner put up another layup. Camille grabbed the board. Johnson fouled T who sank both free throw. Svet came in for Sue. A-Rob came in for Lauren. No one scored in the last 45 seconds or so. Excellent defense by A-Rob on Braxton, who put up some seriously ugly and ineffective shots.

SEA 62 – 64 PHX

I was too excited to pay attention. So sorry!

Fourth Quarter
Lots of missed shots for us and “blocks” for them. No fouls called. Of course not. Smith committed her fifth foul. T “sharpshooter” Wright put down a jumper, drew a foul and was PUMPED. GAME TIED. Smith fouled out. BYE!!!! T hit the extra free throw. STORM AHEAD!!!!! Even her usually impassive face was sporting a slight smile and we were going nuts. Instead of, well, playing the game and, well, scoring, DT flopped her way to a foul call (on T) and hit her free throws. Turnovers and steals on both sides, including a great steal from Camille and an even-greater move by Sue, when she saw a bad pass and sprinted down the court to recover the ball. Huge props.

Swin hit a layup. DT missed a three. T “Clutch” Wright sank a three!!!! Storm up by FOUR! Fans jumping up and down and SCREAMING. Idiot refs called a “foul” on Camille, who all but rolled her eyes. Dupree hit both free throws. Braxton stole the ball from Camille, but Sue stole it right back from her, and fed Lauren, who sank a THREE!!!! KA-BOOM!!!! Noise levels insane. My eardrums may never recover. Very next play, Sue “The Closer” Bird stole the ball from DT and, in a truly beautiful pattern, fed it just ahead of a zooming Lauren who put down a layup. More missed shots, and Camille hit a layup, off a beautiful dish by T. Storm up by NINE. We were frickin' down by EIGHTEEN at the half and we were up by NINE — a 31 — 7 run. Against PHOENIX.

Did I mention that I love this team?

Phoenix put together a run, we answered, they answered again. Around the 2:30 mark, Sue evidently decided it was a time to put a stop to all of this nonsense. She hit two jumpers in a row. Camille drew a charge against DT, much to the joy of the Storm fans. Lauren made a jumper, PT hit a three, and Lauren hit a layup. DT whistled for traveling, but the Mercury cheerleaders, excuse me, refs, insisted on reviewing it via instant replay. Claim upheld.

Swin hit her “Agler is a genius layup.” Taurasi hit a three with six seconds to go. Storm still up by four. Some pointless timeouts. Sue got possession and stood there with her arms wrapped around the ball as Braxton fouled her — and sank her free throws. Hee.

Final score: SEA 91 – 85 PHX

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Gaines seemed to be trying too hard to be chipper. He keeps going on and on about how hard it is to beat a team seven times in a row. Um, Corey, we don't need to beat you seven times in a row. We could lose a game and still move on. And stop flirting with the refs!

Taurasi was really working the floor at the end of the game. She even got Agler to smile, was talking to A-Rob and hugging Sue, as well as messing with Sue's ponytail. If it was intended to psych us out, it didn't work.

Lauren POTG — 33 points and 11 rebounds. She was totally gassed, or emotional, I'm not sure which. Amazing. It's such an honor to watch such a stupendous athlete at the peak of her game.

Huge props to T for doing all of those little things during the fourth quarter, to Sue for keeping a cool head, keeping us in contact and closing it down, to Agler for the defensive adjustments that shut down the Phoenix offense, to Camille for drawing that charge, for Swin who harassed both Taurasi and Taylor, as well as owning all of the boards that Lauren didn't get, as well as blocking Braxton (ha!), to Le'coe for posting on Braxton…. I could go on , but I only have 2791 characters to go before the text box cuts me off.

Amazing game. Amazing comeback. Great job, EVERYONE. Hoping that you're all getting plenty of rest and are refreshed so you can take it to Chicago on Friday.

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