Today in the WNBA: July 22, 2008

By Dan Savage

July 22, 2008: Scoreboard | Video Play of the Day | Today in the WNBA Archive

Matee Ajavon and Shannon Johnson celebrate the Comets' comeback win over the Mercury on Tuesday. It was Houston's first victory over Phoenix in seven contests.
Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty Images
Sparks Complete Season Sweep of Shock

Los Angeles comes away with emotional win: Any time the Shock take the court, they bring with them a physical brand of basketball. After all head coach Bill Laimbeer didn’t exactly play soft, when bringing home two titles with the Pistons. So when the Sparks headed to Detroit for a possible Finals preview, they knew they would have to match that type of intensity in order to leave with a victory. Although the matchup was tarnished in the final seconds by an unfortunate on-the-court incident, the Sparks still answered a lot of questions when it comes to their ability to handle tough defense and a physical style of play. Candace Parker continued to make everyone forget that she is in fact a rookie, slicing through Detroit’s daunting defense for 21 points. DeLisha Milton-Jones added 19 of her own as Los Angeles was able to weather a 21-point comeback effort from the Shock. "This was a game we needed badly, and we won it,'' said Milton-Jones. "That's the important part." Although the game may be remembered for a lot of other reasons, the real storyline – when it comes to postseason impact – is how the Sparks completed a season sweep of a perennial title contender.

Comets' comeback more important at second glance: Houston and Phoenix may have been tied for last place in the West before their matchup on Tuesday, but remember the WNBA season is a marathon not a sprint. And with last place meaning they were only one game out of the fourth seed in the conference, this contest held a completely different value than your normal meeting between “cellar dwellers.” So when the Mercury jumped out to a 12-point advantage just before halftime, the Comets were not just about to roll over and watch their postseason chances dwindle further down the drain. Rookie Matee Ajavon came out firing in the second half and helped spark a 10-0 run for Houston, scoring six straight points during that stretch. “We just needed some energy,” Comets coach Karleen Thompson said. “The key for us is to just get out and run and Matee gives us that energy.” Shannon Johnson capped off the comeback with two game-clinching free throws with 11 seconds left to spoil a 31-point performance from Diana Taurasi and give Houston a crucial advantage in postseason positioning.
"We decided to take control of the game. Our plan was to jump out as fast as we could. Teams try to get physical with us, but we try not to let that become our identity."

-- Monarchs guard Scholanda Robinson on the importance of Sacramento's huge first quarter in its triumph over Atlanta on Tuesday. Robinson finished with 17 points off the bench.

Candice Dupree, Sky
20 pts, 8-12 FG
68-60 win vs. Fever

DeLisha Milton-Jones, Sparks
19 pts, 7-11 FG, 2-3 3-pt FG
84-81 win at Shock

Katie Smith, Shock
20 pts, 7-13 FG, 4-8 3-pt FG
84-81 loss vs. Sparks

Seimone Augustus, Lynx
3-16 FG, 10 pts
76-73 loss vs. Storm

Tamera Young, Dream
1-7 FG, 3 pts
79-66 loss at Monarchs

Tamika Catchings, Fever
4-14 FG, 0-5 3-pt FG, 8 pts
68-60 loss at Sky

Wednesday's Games ...

  • New York at Washington, 11:30 a.m. ET (NBA TV)
  • McCarville

    If you are searching for a turnaround story for the post-Olympic break WNBA season, look no further than the Chicago Sky. Even though they have been without rookie sensation Sylvia Fowles for the majority of the season, they remain only three games out of the final playoff spot in the East standings. With Fowles finally mended and the emergence of rookie guard Quianna Chaney, it’s possible that Chicago could turn some heads out of the break. Chaney gave the Sky a head start on Tuesday, firing off five points down the stretch and 11 overall to give them a 68-60 home win over the Fever. After failing to reach double figures all season, Chaney has scored in double digits in all of the past three games.
    Seattle brought in veterans Swin Cash and Sheryl Swoopes this offseason in order to surround MVP Lauren Jackson with other offensive weapons. But as it turns out, they’re also just as valuable as main options in Jackson’s absence. With L.J. out until after the Olympics, Cash and Swoopes have kept the Storm on the right track. The tandem continued that trend on Tuesday, helping Seattle edge Minnesota. Cash stuffed the stat sheet to the tune of 17 points and 11 rebounds as the Storm improved to 2-1 without their star. The always reliable Sue Bird poured in 22 points to prevent Seattle from nearly blowing a 17-point advantage.