score: Storm 91 Mercury 85 (W) (21-2)
Ancora Women’s Choir. Exquisite rendering in three-part
harmony, including lovely optional high notes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
The Storm tumbler, or, as Shellie put it, “a sippy cup
for adults” in Storm green. Alaska Airlines seat upgrade.
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
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.
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.
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
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
“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
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.
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.
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.
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
I had no idea Corey Gaines was drafted by the Sonics, in 1988
no less. He's forty-five years old — who knew?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Another half-court shootout. The guy won. Nice prize, too
– a stay at the Seattle Westin. I think I need a vacation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
62 – 64 PHX
I was too excited to pay attention. So sorry!
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.
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
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.
score: SEA 91 – 85 PHX
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.