Live from Press Row - Storm vs. Indiana
Storm Beats the Fever
Final: Storm 85, Indiana 81
Sue Bird said it all: "We never believe we're going to lose at home." The Storm fell behind the Indiana Fever by 11, 60-49, in tonight's third quarter. Over the last 14 and a half minutes, buoyed by a terrific home crowd of 9,000-plus, the Storm controlled the game, outscoring Indiana 36-21 to rally for the come-from-behind win. The Storm sealed the win with great fourth-quarter execution, not turning the ball over once over the last five minutes of the game against the league's best defense and getting big shots from Sue Bird and Swin Cash from beyond the arc, as well as Lauren Jackson in the paint. The Storm shot 8-of-10 (80 percent) in the final period.
Jackson was ultra-efficient, missing just twice among 11 shot attempts en route to 28 points. She was a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the arc as well as 7-of-7 at the line, where her teammates had a surprisingly difficult time. The Storm shot a season-low 59.4 percent on free throws (19-of-32), worse than the team shot from downtown (10-of-15, 66.7 percent). Swin Cash added 21 big points, getting to the free throw line 12 times, and Bird had four makes from beyond the arc among her 16 points. Meanwhile, Tanisha Wright took over playmaking duties and handed out a career-high 10 assists.
The Storm has all the respect in the world for the Fever, and Indiana played very well on the road tonight. Katie Douglas, who scored 29 points, was nearly unstoppable and the Fever shot better than 50 percent from the field and three-point range. But the Storm forced 18 turnovers on defense to help slow Indiana down.
The Storm heads out on the road tomorrow, traveling to Tulsa to play the Shock Sunday at 1 p.m. Listen to that game on 1150 AM KKNW or watch it with LiveAccess. On Tuesday, it's back home to welcome the San Antonio Silver Stars to the Key for the second time in a span of two weeks. The Storm has gotten the better of the Silver Stars twice this season and will be looking to stay undefeated against Western Conference foes. Get your tickets for that game now!
Fourth Quarter: Storm 83, Indiana 81
The Storm had a tough time getting the ball inbounds and it was knocked back into the scorers' table with 1.2 seconds left and Katie Douglas and Sue Bird both vying for possession. The referees initially ruled Storm ball, but will review the videotape here to see who should get the ball. This is a huge call in a two-point game.
Fourth Quarter: Storm 83, Indiana 81
Storm up two with 1.7 seconds left after a Jené Morris three-pointer. Basically, the Storm just needs to get the ball inbounds to win, though two free throws will make it entirely academic.
Wright to LJ
Fourth Quarter: Storm 82, Indiana 78
Two Douglas free throws got the Fever back within two, but the Storm responded with great execution. Tanisha Wright found Lauren Jackson under the basket and Jackson went up and under for the reverse layin to push the Storm's lead back to four. It's Wright's 10th assist of the night, a career high for her.
Fourth Quarter: Storm 80, Indiana 76
With 44.6 seconds left, the Storm holds a four-point lead, meaning the Fever will need two scores to tie or take the lead. Swin Cash's last drive had two benefits to the Storm. Not only did she get to the free throw line on a close call, but the foul was also Tamika Catchings' sixth of the game, sending Indiana's star to the bench. Katie Douglas has been the go-to player for the Fever tonight, but Indiana will miss Catchings.
Bird Gives Storm the Lead
Fourth Quarter: Storm 71, Indiana 70
On the night 4,000 fans received her bobbleheads, with emcee Shellie Hart wearing an "I heart Sue Bird" T-shirt, the Storm's star point guard has delivered in the fourth quarter. She's knocked down three three-pointers. The last one gave the Storm its first lead since 38-37 in the second quarter, a one-point advantage with 4:20 left to play. Bird has 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting to go along with four assists.
The crowd is raucous right now, and with the house nearly full that is going to be a major advantage for the Storm down the stretch. But Indiana is a veteran team that has reached the WNBA Finals, so I wouldn't expect the Fever to be too rattled.
Storm Hurting Itself
Fourth Quarter: Indiana 70, Storm 66
The Fever has responded well in the fourth quarter, reclaiming the lead. The difference, after Tully Bevilaqua matched Sue Bird's three-pointer, is four points with 5:40 left to play. The Storm can only blame itself for turning the ball over - 20 in all, one shy of the team's season high - and misses at the free throw line, where the Storm is an uncharacteristic 12-of-20 (60.0 percent). Both of those factors come heavily into play in such a close game.
Wild Close to Third Quarter
End Third Quarter: Indiana 60, Storm 58
Over the last four minutes of the third quarter, the tenor of this game changed completely. Give credit to the KeyArena crowd for being a major factor after the Storm got some momentum midway through the period. The refereeing also began to reward the Storm's aggressiveness, much to Indiana's dismay. The Storm attempted 11 free throws in the third quarter, more than the team had in the entire first half. After one close call went Seattle's way, Shavonte Zellous was called for a technical foul for her reaction.
All told, the Fever was scoreless for the last four and a half minutes of the third quarter. The Storm's 9-0 run got the team within two, and the Storm could have taken a lead had Camille Little made a three-pointer just before the buzzer.
Fever Still on Fire
Third Quarter: Indiana 56, Storm 45
Katie Douglas can't miss tonight. After throwing in a rainbow jumper out of desperation, Douglas has 21 points (one shy of her season high) on 7-of-8 shooting. She also is operating the offense, which has created open looks for rookie Jené Morris. The Fever's first-round pick has a pair of three-pointers and has scored eight points.
On the other end, the Storm continues to struggle. Brian Agler will try to spark the team with Le'coe Willingham and Tanisha Wright coming in off the bench. The Storm may also need some help from this excellent crowd on hand tonight. They haven't had a great deal to cheer, but have been notably for vocalizing their frustration with the referees.
Abrosimova Starts Second Half
Third Quarter: Indiana 49, Storm 43
A lineup change for the Storm to start the second half. Because Tanisha Wright has four fouls, Svetlana Abrosimova is on the floor to start the third quarter. Indiana has also made a change, with Jené Morris stepping in for Ebony Hoffman in a smaller lineup, with Katie Douglas sliding to small forward and Tamika Catchings at power forward. Hoffman took a tumble during the second quarter and has played sparingly since then.
During an early timeout (called by Tully Bevilaqua to preserve possession in a tie-up), Brian Agler was called for a technical. He has been unhappy with the officiating, as has the KeyArena crowd, and got the rare T. Tamika Catchings missed the ensuing free throw.
Fever on Fire in Second Quarter
Halftime: Indiana 49, Storm 43
Phenomenal second quarter for the Indiana Fever, which shot 11-of-15 from the field - including 3-of-3 beyond the arc - to put 29 points on the board and turn a seven-point deficit into a six-point lead. The half ended in fitting fashion as Katie Douglas banked in a three-pointer at the buzzer after evading Lauren Jackson with a pump fake. Douglas has 19 points, Tamika Catchings has 13 and the Indiana bench has chipped in 11.
Meanwhile, for the Storm avoiding turnovers remains a major focus. The Storm coughed it up 11 times in the first half, helping undermine the fact that the team shot 57.1 percent in its own right. The Storm also must deal with four first-half fouls from Tanisha Wright, who picked up a costly charge late in the quarter. Wright hasn't been a big factor as a scorer, but she's handed out a game-high five assists thus far.
The Storm had six fast-break points in the first half, but I'm not sure the team was moving as quickly at any point as the Jet City Jumpers, who are holding dog races on the floor at halftime.
Tully's Last Visit?
Second Quarter: Indiana 39, Storm 38
There's a chance that this could be Tully Bevilaqua's last game at KeyArena. The former Storm guard has been talking about retiring for a while now, and indicated this might be her final WNBA season - though she recently decided to come out of Australian retirement to play in the WNBL again next winter. Sue Bird laughed when the subject was brought up.
"Tully and her retirement!" said Bird. "Back in the Australian league this year! I was giving her a hard time about that the other day. I told her, 'They did a video for you!' Once a video is made, I don't think it's fair.
"Why retire? She is a rock, a backbone in a lot of ways. I know you don't see it in the boxscore, but the things Tully brings to the table are extremely important. They're a big reason why Indiana has a lot of success. I don't know if she has nagging injuries - you would never know it, so that says something about her - but she does a great job of staying in shape. You look at her, she's fit. I know she does things like kickboxing. She really takes care of herself. If you can't tell, why even talk about retirement?"
Fever Makes a Run
Second Quarter: Storm 35, Indiana 33
A 7-0 Indiana run has gotten the Fever back within two points. The Storm has been able to get fewer early buckets in this quarter, in large part because the team has usually been taking the ball out of the net after Indiana scores. The Fever is shooting 66.7 percent from the field (12-of-18). Tamika Catchings and Katie Douglas are both in double-figures early for Indiana.
What's keeping the Storm right now is Lauren Jackson. She's been in a tiny bit of a shooting slump - only by her high standards - early this season, shooting 32.3 percent from downtown. But Jackson's hard work (she's often the last Storm player on the court shooting after practice) has paid off tonight. She's a perfect 4-of-4 from beyond the arc and has made all six of her shots for 17 points.
Storm Opens Up Lead
End First Quarter: Storm 27, Indiana 20
Great end to the first quarter for the Storm, which held a 12-5 advantage over the last three minutes of the period to take a seven-point lead to the quarter break. The Storm also scored 27 points in the first quarter at the Conseco Fieldhouse, but that game saw the Storm hit some very difficult shots early that turned into misses later in the night. This time around, the Storm's offense seems more sustainable. Indiana will make some adjustments, of course, but the Storm is executing well with the exception of that run of turnovers. Lauren Jackson has a team-high nine points and Swin Cash and Camille Little have seven apiece, while Sue Bird and Tanisha Wright have combined for five turnovers.
First Quarter: Storm 15, Indiana 15
The Storm did a very nice job of holding on to the basketball over the first six minutes of this game, committing just one miscue. Since the timeout, however, the Storm has three consecutive turnovers as the Fever has tied the game at 15 all. Indiana does this to everyone - the Storm's 16 turnovers in Indiana were actually the second-lowest total for a Fever opponent all season. Still, the Storm is the league's best at avoiding turnovers and believes it can do better.
Storm Starts Quickly
First Quarter: Storm 15, Indiana 11
Interesting strategic move by Brian Agler, who has chosen to push the pace tonight. Scoring in transition is a way for the Storm to counteract Indiana's stifling half-court defense. The Storm has four fast-break points and a couple of other early scores. Beyond that, Lauren Jackson has found her touch from the perimeter, knocking down a pair of three-pointers to give her six points already. Camille Little has seven.
I love that tonight's Alaska Airlines first-class upgrade recipients, who will now sit courtside, have their bobbleheads in tow as they move up from their original seats.
The first 4,000 fans through the doors tonight received Sue Bird bobbleheads in the first of three bobblehead giveaways for the Storm this season. I first began seeing reports on Twitter of fans lining up outside of KeyArena around 3 p.m., and by the time doors opened at 6 p.m. there were long lines at each of the four corners of the building. People are clearly fired up to have gotten their Sue Bird bobblehead dolls; one fan shouted "I got it!" after stepping into the KeyArena concourse.
The subject of the very first Storm bobblehead is actually in the building tonight, and I made sure to ask Lin Dunn if she still had one of her bobbleheads, given out in 2001.
"Of course I do," she said. "They're hard to come by now. There won't ever be another Lin Dunn bobblehead as far as I'm concerned - not if I can help it."
While Dunn bobbleheads may be tough to find, you can get Swin Cash and Lauren Jackson bobbleheads by getting your tickets for those games on July 25 and Aug. 7 respectively and making sure you're among the first 4,000 fans for those games.
Hello from KeyArena, where the Storm is preparing to host the Indiana Fever in a matchup of two of the WNBA's top teams. The Storm has its first chance all season to avenge a loss, having fallen to the Fever 72-65 last Thursday at Conseco Fieldhouse. This is definitely a friendly rivalry, with plenty of ties between the two teams, including former Storm Head Coach Lin Dunn and guard Tully Bevilaqua returning to Seattle. It should make for a great game, so stay with us all night long for the latest.