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Final score: Storm 74 – Lynx 81 (L) (1-1)

Attendance | 6291

Box Score | Jayda's Game Blog | Norwester's Downpour

Game Photos | Scott E | Rick | Scott L

I'm kind of at a loss on how to start this, which apparently was the same situation the Storm found themselves in at the start of this game. They were at a loss on how to start. The Lynx, on the other hand, knew exactly what they were doing.

I don't think there has been any Storm team that has allowed an opponent to get out to a 22-0 point lead to start a game. I checked the media guide, but it doesn't include stats on worst game start, but I have to think if this wasn't the worst it has to be close to a record for the worst.

We stood until the clock read 2:57 left in the first quarter. LJ hit a jumper to momentarily slow the Lynx onslaught.

After the game, someone described it this way: The Lynx played the way the Storm normally do at home. The executed plays. They played with intensity and determination. They attacked the paint. They fought for every rebound. They found not just the open shooter with the best available shot.

It wasn't even the one person we all thought would be the biggest threat, Maya Moore. She was basically uninvolved through the first half. No, the Minnesota players doing the most damage were well known quantities — Rebekah Brunson and Lindsey Whalen.

Brunson completely dominated the first half of this game. She was everywhere, on both ends of the court. If you were able to separate yourself from the total debacle that was the Storm's effort, you had to appreciate Brunson's game if only from a pure basketball standpoint. She was great. The Storm stank.

Towards the end of the first quarter, Coach Agler rotated in Katie, Tanisha and Ashley. Finally, we got some life out of the Storm. These bench players did their job (to an extent) — they brought energy, they started scoring and, more importantly, started to put the brakes on the Minnesota attack.

I have to give credit where credit is due. Ashley Robinson came in and went right at Brunson. Between her defense on Brunson and Katie shutting down whoever she was guarding, the Storm bench produced some defensive stops. It allowed the Storm to keep the Lynx lead from ballooning into truly absurd levels (let's face it, it was plenty absurd for the lead to be in the 20-26 range to begin with).

The Storm started to get a little offensive traction in the second quarter to the point that it looked like they might be able to get the lead down to under 20 by the half. But even their good opportunities kept coming up empty. Katie drives to the basket and gets fouled, but misses both free throws. Ashley gets the rebound off the second miss to extend the play, but instead of producing any points, the Storm turn it over. On another play, Sue maneuvers around a screen and has a direct line to the hoop along the baseline, but instead of taking the open shot she passes out to a perimeter shooter for a three that clanks.

Every time the Storm got a little something positive going and would get the lead down to 19 or 20, the Lynx would come right back and kick it back up to 26. They ended the quarter on another mini run and the Storm were lucky to escape the half only down by 26 and not 30 or more.

Sitting there at the half, the fan in me knew that if the Lynx could outscore the Storm 50-24 over a 20 minute span, the Storm could do the same in the next 20 minutes. Yes, it would require a complete breakdown by the Lynx and for the Storm to totally transform their collective mental space. Highly unlikely given the momentum of the first half, but not impossible. We've seen the Storm come back in the past. They know they can do it. We know they can do it.

Unfortunately, it only took a couple of possessions at the beginning of the third quarter for us to see that there was no magical transformation in the locker room. The Storm came out and showed a little more energy, but they came away empty on their first two trips down the floor while the Lynx were still hitting everything. The lead got up to 30 and the game looked like it was heading down hill fast.

The most disheartening thing was seeing LJ's body language. To me, it was clear she was not only understandably frustrated, but giving up on the game. Coach Agler saw it to and pulled her after just a couple minutes into the quarter. Still, the quarter wore on and the difference between the two teams continued to be stark.

The Lynx were in a great rhythm. They were getting the looks they wanted. Their shooters were smooth and confident. It looked like they were running a shooting and rebounding drill.

The Storm were struggling for everything. Nothing was easy. They were getting jammed on inside moves. Their jumpers were contested and they looked done.

The Storm could only manage a little headway into the lead, again getting it down around 20-21, but then Maya Moore started to get involved. She helped push the score back up to 25 to end the quarter.

So the Storm start the fourth quarter down by 25. The game looks all but over. That's when they decide to wake the hell up. They get a couple defensive stops and Sue Bird threes, and all the sudden the lead is down to 19. The crowd, which to their credit has been trying all game to get the team going, really starts to make some noise. With 7:55 on the clock, the Storm are down by 19 and playing with some passion and energy.

They keep chipping away. With 6 minutes to go, it's down to 15. With 3:55 to go, it's down to 12.

The refs, up to this point, hadn't been much of a factor. Now, of course, they make their presence felt and start calling fouls on the Storm that negate great defensive stands by giving the Lynx free throws or another chance for a possession.

The Lynx start milking the clock and through a couple shot clock violations, work it down to the point that it is almost out of reach for the Storm even if they made no mistakes the rest of the way. Of course, they do continue to make mistakes. They get a shot clock violation on the Lynx and then miss a shot or turn the ball back over to the Lynx. The lead stayed at 12 for far too long before the Storm were able to chip away at it again.

With just about 2 minutes to go, the Lynx hit a basket and push the lead back to 14, basically sealing the win. Through fouling, stopping the clock and getting quick scores, the Storm do get within 7 points with about 40 seconds left, but there just wasn't enough time left. The Lynx had the clock on their side and used it like a sixth player on the court.

The Storm played one good quarter out of four. They blew the doors off the place in the fourth, outscoring the Lynx 35-17. If they had started their run even mid-way through the third quarter instead of waiting until the fourth, they might have had a better chance to pull out an epic comeback. Give them credit for not giving in and chalking the game up as a loss. Coach Agler could have pulled the starters and sat them for the entire fourth quarter. In any normal situation, you would have expected a 25 point fourth quarter lead to mean extended garbage time.

But the Storm didn't quit. Coach Agler didn't sit the starters. Neither did the Lynx. They knew that the Storm would eventually wake up. Minnesota might have relaxed a little bit at the end, but their starters were in and playing hard during that Storm 35-17 blitz.

So, is there any good to come out of this loss?

I can guarantee Coach Agler has some material to work with during the next Storm practice.

You could look at it as being good that this happened so early in the season, kind of a "get it out of the system" kind of loss. The Storm know what they have to work on and given their experience and attitudes, they will do what it takes to not have another performance like this.

It sucks that the home win streak ended — 18 regular season wins in a row and 22 overall (including the playoff wins). I don't see any silver lining to this fact. It just plain sucks. I wanted another 17-0 home record this season. But, it does show just how hard it is to achieve that when any team on any night can have a game like the Lynx did.

The Storm got some good production out of their bench, if not in stat numbers than in energy. That is exactly what the Storm needs moving forward if they do intend to compete for another championship. Katie was great. Ashley had flashes of brilliance (I just wish her shot would go in more often). Le'coe came in strong like always.

Yes, the beginning of this game was one of the ugliest 20 minutes any of us have seen from the Storm in a very long time, but no one I talked to afterwards was all that upset or worried. The Storm ended the game well and I think that will carry over to their next game. I kind of feel bad for the Indiana Fever. They are going to feel the full force of the Storm response to this game.

Other notes:

UW great Brock Huard and Seahawks great Walter Jones were at the game.

A group of Army recruits took their oath on the court before the game.

I'm not a fan of the revised get the fans ready video before the game. They have Shelly Hart and the Dance Troupe kids doing the instructions, which is fine, but they cut it with video clips of the team dancing or Doppler doing stuff, and it comes off a bit choppy. I think the fan reaction to it has been kind of tepid.