Live from Press Row - Storm vs. Chicago
13 Lucky for Storm
Final: Storm 80, Chicago 60
No triskaidekaphobia (that's fear of the number 13) from the Seattle Storm, which extended the longest winning streak in franchise history to 13 games with tonight's blowout win over the Chicago Sky. The Storm now stands alone with the third-longest winning streak in the history of the WNBA. The Los Angeles Sparks won 18 consecutive games from June 26-Aug. 11, 2001, while the 1998 Houston Comets - the team whose best record in league history the Storm is chasing - won 15 in a row from June 27 through July 30. The Storm's streak extends all the way back to June 18 and the team will finish the month of July a perfect 8-0.
Tonight, the Storm got off to a phenomenal start marked by tremendous unselfish ball movement and super-accurate shooting from beyond the arc. The lead at halftime was 24 points, and the Sky never got the lead under 20 points, which was the final margin. Chicago shot 33.3 percent from the field and turned the ball over 16 times. Double-teams limited Sylvia Fowles to 13 points and just five shot attempts. She had five assists, but turned the ball over three times. Meanwhile, the Storm was very balanced on offense. Nobody scored more than Swin Cash's 16 points, but four starters and reserve Svetlana Abrosimova were in double-figures, while Le'coe Willingham added nine points and seven boards.
The Storm heads out on the road to the Midwest now. On Sunday, the team will match up with the Minnesota Lynx before visiting the Shock in Tulsa on Tuesday. It will be a quick turnaround after the road trip as the Storm returns home to face certain Rookie of the Year Tina Charles and the rest of the Connecticut Sun on Thursday. That game, broadcast nationally on ESPN2, will Breast Health Awareness Night. Join us by . getting your tickets now!
More Action for Storm's Youngsters
Fourth Quarter: Storm 80, Chicago 56
With this game well in hand, Storm rookies Abby Bishop and Alison Lacey are on the court. While their play may not impact tonight's outcome, this remains important learning time for both players. Brian Agler has praised what both players are doing in the practice setting, but it's still a little bit different from them when the lights go on and there are thousands of fans in the stand. The more success they can have in these opportunities, the more confidence they will build.
One Storm player who is playing with a lot of confidence is Ashley Robinson, who had a highlight-reel block against Tamera Young a moment ago and is enjoying one of her best outings all season.
Celebrating a Decade of Lauren Jackson
Fourth Quarter: Storm 78, Chicago 54
It looks like Lauren Jackson's night is over with 5:39 left and the Storm still up by 24 points. She'll finish with 14 points, four rebounds and three assists in 24 minutes of action. While it seems like just yesterday that Jackson was a fresh-faced rookie homesick for her native Australia, this is LJ's 10th season with the Storm. We'll celebrate her lengthy career next Saturday, Aug. 7 when the Tulsa Shock visits KeyArena. The first 4,000 fans that night will get Lauren Jackson Bobbleheads, and video features throughout the evening will highlight Jackson's phenomenal career. Get your tickets for that game now or purchase it as part of our special MVP Package, which is the first opportunity for the general public to get tickets to game 1 of the Storm's first-round playoff series. Leading up to that game, stormbasketball.com will spotlight Jackson all week long. Stay tuned for some special content, including top 10 lists of Jackson's 10 years in Seattle.
Storm Up 23 Through Three
End Third Quarter: Storm 72, Chicago 49
Signs of life from the Chicago Sky's offense late in the third quarter. The Sky hit threes on two of its last three possessions, but Svetlana Abrosimova answered with a pair of long jumpers of her own to make it a 23-point game with 10 minutes to play. It will be interesting to see how Brian Agler plays this final period and when he goes deep into his bench. To start the quarter, two starters will be on the floor - Sue Bird and Camille Little. Bird got a nice long rest in the third quarter and still needs a point and two assists for a double-double tonight.
Clock on Storm's Side
Third Quarter: Storm 60, Chicago 37
The Storm hasn't quite been as sharp since halftime, including missing all three attempts thus far from beyond the arc, but still maintains a 23-point lead midway through the third quarter. Right now, Chicago's biggest foe is the clock. The Sky has 15 minutes to make up that deficit having only scored 37 points all night, so it may be slow going. Chicago is shooting just 33.3 percent from the field and has 10 turnovers.
Women of Inspiration
Halftime: Storm 55, Chicago 31
A lot of applause during halftime as the Storm honored this year's three Women of Inspiration - Kim Bogucki, Sue Rahr and Marilyn Smith. Make sure to visit our Women of Inspiration homepage to read up on all three women and find out about the contributions they have made to the Seattle community. The great thing about Women of Inspiration Night is that it's become an annual tradition, and three past honorees are in the crowd tonight and were recognized at a first-half timeout.
All Storm at the Half
Halftime: Storm 55, Chicago 31
I kind of want to frame this boxscore. It's hard to imagine a much better half of basketball than the Storm has played tonight against the Chicago Sky. Both the Storm's 55 first-half points and the 24-point ahlftime lead are season highs. The Storm never cooled off in terms of shooting, and Tanisha Wright struck from downtown just before the buzzer for the Storm's eighth three-pointer of the first half. With Wright's three, every Storm starter has at least one triple. Sue Bird happened to assist on that three, giving her seven in the first half. The biggest threat to a Bird double-double is the possibility that her night might end early.
As impressive as anything else we saw in the first half was the way the Storm's frontcourt reserves responded to extra playing time due to the starters' foul trouble. Ashley Robinson played as well as she has all season, coming up with an acrobatic rebound that she fed to Le'coe Willingham for a layup and knocking down a mid-range jumper. The Storm didn't miss a beat after Lauren Jackson sat down.
Second Quarter: Storm 46, Chicago 25
On the other end of the shooting, the other key to the way the Storm has played tonight has been the team's ability to share the basketball. Out of 19 field goals thus far, the Storm has 16 assists. Every starter save Camille Little has at least two assists, and Sue Bird has handed out five. That unselfishness and creativity was symbolized by a play a moment ago that saw three or four players touch pass to each other before Lauren Jackson found Le'coe Willingham having sealed her defender under the basket for a layup. It reminded me of something the Brazilian soccer team might pull off (at least before this past Dunga incarnation).
The only downside to this first half for the Storm has been foul trouble. Little and Jackson have three fouls apiece, which has put Le'coe Willingham and Ashley Robinson in the game in the frontcourt.
Shooting the Lights Out
Second Quarter: Storm 39, Chicago 19
Great shooting tonight for the Storm has produced a 20-point lead midway through the second quarter. Seattle is shooting 55.2 percent from the field and a cool 60 percent (6-of-10) from beyond the arc. Sue Bird has knocked down a pair of three-pointers in this quarter, and in fact the only Storm starter without a triple is Tanisha Wright. Brian Agler has talked recently about how important the ability to shoot the ball is for this Storm team. Not only does it translate into points from the perimeter, it also helps make teams pay for double-teaming Lauren Jackson down low. That's a win-win.
Fun Dance Troupe one-on-one with Camille Little during the timeout. She told Julia of the Storm Dance Troupe her favorite dance move is the Q-tip. You can see that when we post the interview on the site shortly.
LJ Gets Involved
End First Quarter: Storm 27, Chicago 13
So much for Lauren Jackson being quiet. She knocked down a three-pointer and completed a three-point play during the last minute of the first quarter, helping the Storm nearly eclipse its season high for first-quarter scoring (28 points vs. Phoenix on June 6). 25 of the Storm's 27 points have come from the three starting frontcourt players.
Here's what Brian Agler had to say before the game about what the Storm didn't do last game and needed to do this time: "We were passive. Chicago's a tough matchup for us. If we're passive against them, they're going to do us what they did in the first two-thirds or three-quarters of the game in Chicago, and that was handle us."
Well, this time around the Storm has really looked to take the game to the Sky, and that strategy has worked very well.
Storm On the Run
First Quarter: Storm 21, Chicago 8
It's a 9-0 Storm surge since Chicago scored the first bucket after the last break, capped by Swin Cash's three-pointer a moment ago. Cash has a game-high 10 points, outscoring the Sky all by herself, and has knocked down a pair of triples. The Storm has really relied on the frontcourt outside of Lauren Jackson. Le'coe Willingham has grabbed three rebounds in her limited actions. Now Ashley Robinson will see some action to match up with Sylvia Fowles.
Storm Starts Strong
First Quarter: Storm 12, Chicago 6
Really nice energy for the Storm early in this game. Seattle has taken an early 12-6 lead, with all the scoring from Camille Little (seven) and Swin Cash (five). Little has been especially energetic, coming up with two steals, knocking down a three-pointer and volleyballing a missed shot back into the basket for a putback. Unfortunately, Little is now on the bench with two fouls. The Storm came out with Little, not Lauren Jackson, defending Sylvia Fowles. That's going to create some foul issues for Little and Le'coe Willingham, but should help the Storm keep Lauren Jackson - who had two early fouls in Chicago - on the floor. Because of the size Little and Willingham give up to Fowles, the Storm will aggressively double-team Fowles when she gets the ball in the post.
The Storm's Number?
There's been plenty of talk the last couple of days about how much to read into the Chicago Sky's victory over the Storm on May 27 and the fact that the Sky has won three straight head-to-head matchups. Well, one person not reading very much into those facts is Chicago Head Coach Steven Key.
"Does anybody have anybody's number in this league?" said Key. "I don't think so. We've won the last few times, but prior to that I don't think we'd beaten them in three seasons. I don't think there's any kind of consistency with having anybody's number."
Key also reminded that the circumstances around the first matchup between these two teams were fairly unique.
"I think a lot of people forget our backs were a little bit to the wall the last time we faced them," he said. "We were 0-4; they were 4-0. It was our second home game and we really needed to come out with some kind of fire. I thought we did a good job of coming out and showing that we really wanted to win. Maybe we surprised them; I don't know. I expect there will be no surprises tonight. I expect them to come ready to go tonight and show us that they want to get that game back."
Coming to you live from KeyArena, where the Storm is getting set to take on the Chicago Sky tonight in a rematch with one of just two teams to defeat the Storm all season. While Chicago is currently outside the playoffs in the tough Eastern Conference, the Sky has shown the ability to play with anyone in the league on good nights. With the 6-6 Sylvia Fowles in the middle, the Sky should present the Storm a difficult challenge this evening. Stay tuned all night long for the latest as the Storm goes for consecutive win No. 13.