Storm Tracker (June 30-July 6)

Jackson - 22.0
Bird - 18.7
Vodichkova – 14.7
Barnes – 7.0
Brondello - 4.7
Barnes - 5.7
Vodichkova – 5.3
Bird - 4.0
Jackson - 4.0
Burras - 3.5
Bird - 6.0
Brondello - 4.3
Barnes - 3.7

June 30-July 6
Record for the week: 2-1
Overall Record: 9-7
Standing: tied 2nd, Western Conference

Monday, June 30, 2003

Storm 35 48 83
at Charlotte 37 34 71
The Storm got good news before tipoff against the Sting when Lauren Jackson, who had sat out the Storm’s previous game, a loss at Indiana, was cleared to play despite a sore right foot. Jackson played hard but struggled offensively in the first half, while Sue Bird was forced out of the game early after hitting the ground hard and struggled as well. Adia Barnes and Kamila Vodichkova stepped up in their place. Barnes had nine points in the game’s first eight minutes, beating her season scoring average, and Vodichkova scored 12 in the first half. Along with the physical defense of Tully Bevilaqua, who recorded four steals in 12 minutes of action, their offense was enough to put the Storm up 19-9 early and 27-20 with six minutes to play in the half. That’s when the Sting made its run, finishing the half with a 17-8 run to take the lead to the locker room. The Storm kept the game close most of the second half before turning it over to Jackson and Amanda Lassiter. Jackson re-entered the game at the 10:39 mark with the Storm ahead 52-51. Seattle would never trail, and put the game away during a 10-2 run that saw Jackson score four points and Lassiter five. The Storm cruised to an 83-71 victory that gave the team a 2-1 trip east. After scoring just four points in the first half, Jackson finished with 22. Vodichkova (15), Barnes (12) and Lassiter (12) joined her in double-figures. Allison Feaster led the Sting with 18 points, Tammy Sutton-Brown had 15 and nine rebounds and All-Star starter Dawn Staley had 10 assists.

Thursday, July 3, 2003

Washington 37 35 72
at Storm 32 44 76
The schedule seemed to present the Storm a break when the Washington Mystics showed up in Seattle for the second game of a back-to-back, with a seven-game losing streak. Chamique Holdsclaw, Washington’s All-Star had returned the previous night against Sacramento . . . and promptly seen the Mystics get beaten by 21 points. Still, Washington surprised by coming out strong to start against the Storm. With an excellent game plan that forced the Storm to the perimeter with a zone defense and attacked in the fast break whenever possible, the Mystics ran up a lead of as many as 12 in the first half. The Storm just couldn’t hit anything from outside, and only the interior play of Jackson kept Seattle as close as five at the half. After a dialogue with Coach Anne Donovan in the locker room, the Storm came out fired up and took the lead on a Barnes layup at the 17:26 mark of the second half. The Mystics would not go away easily, however, and held a 59-55 lead near the eight-minute mark. With the game tied at 61, Bird flashed back to her rookie campaign, back before her knee injury, and took over the game. She and Jackson hit back-to-back threes, but the Mystics reclaimed a perilous 68-67 lead on a Coco Miller three. Bird answered with another three, then found Vodichkova for a layup and a four-point lead. The teams traded misses after an Ashja Jones score, and the Mystics were forced to foul with under 30 seconds left. Bird hit four free throws the rest of the way as the Storm held onto a 76-72 lead to take the victory. Bird and Jackson were the two-woman show, with the former hitting for 21 points and 10 assists (the first 20-10 game of her career) and the latter going for 25 points. Vodichkova added 12 points and nine rebounds. A healthy-looking Holdsclaw had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Mystics, while Miller added 20 on 9-for-15 shooting.

Saturday, July 5, 2003

Storm 34 41 75
at Los Angeles 47 37 84
It’s always a big game when the Storm and Sparks match up, with the added incentive this time that the teams came into the game first and second in the Western Conference, but the Storm didn’t come out playing like it was a big game. In the first half, Seattle allowed the Sparks to do whatever they wanted on offense, and the result was a 47-point half, just one point off the Storm’s opponent record for a half. The Sparks didn’t let up early in the second half, building the lead to 23, 60-37, three minutes in. From that point on, the Storm owned the game, outscoring LA 38-24, but the hole was simply too large to dig out of. The Storm never got closer than the final margin, nine points, with the Sparks regularly answering Storm scores with one of their own. The final margin, 84-75, made the game appear closer than it was. Bird did have an outstanding night for the Storm, making 11 of 20 shots and five of six threes to finish with 27 points. Jackson scored 19 and Vodichkova 17. All five starters scored double-figures for the Sparks, led by the 23 points and 12 rebounds of Lisa Leslie.

Player of the Week

F Adia Barnes
7.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.7 apg, 2.3 spg

With most of the Storm’s starting five playing well, this was a difficult week to select a Player of the Week. Bird and Jackson were their typically excellent selves, while Vodichkova had a tremendous week. In the end, however, we go with Barnes. In each of the Storm’s three games, Barnes contributed a different dimension. Against Charlotte, with the Storm desperate for offense in the first half with Bird and Jackson struggling, Barnes stepped up. She finished with a career-high-tying 12 points, making five of her eight shots. Against Washington, Barnes contributed her passing ability, establishing a new career high with five assists. Against Los Angeles, Barnes got on the boards, leading the Storm with nine rebounds despite leaving the game early. That wasn’t quite a career high, that being set at 10 last year against Portland, but it was a season high. As always, Barnes contributed solid defense, making her statistical contributions all the more valuable.

Weekly Happenings

Lassiter scored a season-high 12 points against Charlotte.
Ron Hoskins/WNBAE/Getty
Hey Now, You’re an All-Star
The Storm had a pair of players named to the All-Star team last week. On Monday, Bird was selected a starter for the Western Conference for the second time in as many seasons. Two days later, Jackson got the nod as one of the West’s reserves. The WNBA’s top scorer and in the top ten in both rebounding and blocks, Jackson has a stat line befitting a starter, but finished just fourth amongst forwards in fan voting. Donovan believes Jackson deserved to start. “Absolutely,” she answered the question after Wednesday’s practice. “Lauren Jackson’s in contention for MVP in my book.” Donovan also could make an argument for a third Storm player being added to the roster. “I think Kamila is one of the better post players in this league, for sure,” Donovan said, “She’s All-Star material because of what she does for us, but I think you’d have a hard time selling that to other coaches.” At the same time, Donovan noted that the backup centers selected for the West team, Phoenix’s Adrian Williams and San Antonio’s Margo Dydek, were both deserving. It will be the second straight season that Bird and Jackson represent the Storm in the All-Star game. Only three teams, the Detroit Shock, Los Angeles Sparks and New York Liberty, have more All-Stars (three) than the Storm.

Well-Timed Break
After completing the first half of its season, the Storm has a nine-day break, including the All-Star game, before returning to action on July 15 against Houston. The break will help several Storm players rest injuries. Bird and Jackson have been able to play through chondromalacia and a sore foot, respectively, but have both been bothered by the injuries, as has Vodichkova by a sore neck. Barnes suffered a more serious injury against the Sparks, a sprained right knee that kept her out the remainder of the game. There was good and bad news on the injured list front. Forward/center Danielle McCulley was activated before Saturday’s game and saw her first action of the season against the Sparks, playing six minutes. McCulley had missed the first 15 games of this season and the final 27 games last year on the injured list, meaning it had been over a year since she’d played in a regular-season WNBA game. Alisa Burras replaced McCulley on the injured list with chondromalacia in her left knee. Burras had been playing well, posting back-to-back double-digit scoring efforts off the bench in late June, but the injury will keep her out at least until the Storm heads back on the road in mid-July.

On the Road Again
The Storm has faced a difficult road schedule in recent weeks. A pair of three-game road trips bookended one home game against the San Antonio Silver Stars to close out June. The Storm played one game at KeyArena against Washington before heading right back on the road against the Sparks. After another home game against Houston, the Storm will take its final eastern swing, playing Connecticut, Detroit and Minnesota. When the Storm returns home from that trip, it will have played 12 of 20 games on the road. That will mean a cushy finish to the season, as the Storm plays nine of its final 14 games at KeyArena, a nice advantage as the team fights for a playoff spot.

The Week Ahead

Sat, July 12 All-Star Game 4:00 p.m. Madison Square Garden ABC

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