Brianís Courtside Blog - September 4 vs. Seattle
All week long since defeating the Detroit Shock 82-81 in thrilling overtime fashion, there seems to be a growing belief building around the Sky that they have what it takes to make the 2008 WNBA Playoffs, something I have been telling all of you since the home opener. There is a ton of talent on this team and it is finally starting to come together. Not to mention, since returning from Beijing with the gold medal around her neck, Sylvia Fowles has been unstoppable.
Coming into tonightís game the Sky trailed the Indiana Fever by 2.5 games for the final playoff spot in the East. The Fever however start a three game road trip this Friday, September 5, that will take them to Detroit, Atlanta and Minnesota before they wrap up the season at home against New York and Phoenix. Bottom lineÖtonight is a huge game for the Sky with two road games coming up for them this weekend. A win would do wonders for the team as well as put added pressure on the Fever during their road trip.
Tonightís game was such a big one that the President of the WNBA Donna Orender, New Orleans Hornets starting point guard Chris Paul, and Chicago Bulls forward Tyrus Thomas were all in attendance.
From the second the ball went in the air, the game had the feel of a playoff game and it was very encouraging to see the relaxed look on the Sky players faces early on.
With 3:30 to go in the first quarter, Storm Head Coach Brian Agler called timeout as the Sky took a 15-6 lead. On her way over to the teamís bench, Swin Cash appeared very frustrated as she took a seat on top of the scorerís table. When she hopped down to join the rest of her teammates, she kicked the scorerís table and yelled something I cannot repeat. It appeared early on that the Sky had taken total control of the ball game and entered into the heads of some of the Storm players such as Cash.
The Sky owned a 34-29 lead at halftime and for the time being things were looking up for the Sky.
There was a comical beginning to the third quarter. Jia Perkinsí headband fell down around her neck, looking like a dog collar, as she had the ball in her hand. That didnít stop her from driving the ball down the lane and dishing it off to Dominique Canty for the easy lay-up. On her way back down the court Perkins had a giant grin on her face as she put her headband back on the top of her head. I guess when your hot your hot, and Perkins is just that. Coming off Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors, Perkins continues to be a dominating force both offensively and defensively. Perkins would finish with a game high 22 points.
There was an interesting exchange at the end of the third quarter between both head coaches. K.B. Sharp knocked down a jump shot from the top of the key that appeared to be released after the buzzer sounded. The referees however awarded Sharp the basket. Agler immediately rushed to half-court to protest the call. As the referees approached Alger to tell him to back up and they would review the call, Sky Head Coach Steven Key gave Alger a wink with a devilish grin on his face as if he knew the play would be overturned, which it was shortly after.
The Sky seemed to be in cruise control once again as they extended their lead in the third quarter to 10 points, however the Storm would not give up and force the Sky to show their hand.
Sue Bird knocked down one of her several back breaking shots with 8:56 to go in the ball game to give the Storm their first lead of the game at 54-52, washing away what was once a twelve point Sky lead.
It looked as the game went on that the young Sky team got more and more up-tight, trying to rush things and force their way into the playoffs rather than allow it to happen. The hardest part about tonightís game was the fact that the Sky was able to dominate the majority of the game but could not pull it together when things got tight, losing it down the stretch.
It became clear, tonight would not be the night the Sky would win their fourth straight game when Candice Dupree missed a wide open lay-up with 1:27 left in game. Bird came back down the floor and hit yet another jump shot to put the Sky away and help secure a playoff spot for the Storm with a final score of 70-62.
This may be the toughest lost in the Skyís young history. With five games remaining in the season and only three games to make up, it is still possible for the Sky to earn their first ever trip to the WNBA Playoffs.
We need all of you back in the UIC Pavilion on Tuesday, September 9 as the Sky takes on the Washington Mystics at 7pm. Be there to cheer on the Sky and help them push their way into the playoffs. Call 866.SKY.WNBA now to get your tickets.