Live from Press Row - Storm vs. Connecticut
Final: Storm 83, Connecticut 82
No other way to put it than that tonight. Connecticut retained the ball and Tan White drove from the top of the key to just outside the three-point line, taking off beyond the arc and landing well inside it after releasing just before the buzzer. White's shot looked good but came up just short, allowing the Storm to prevail. This wasn't a night where the Storm played its best basketball, trailing deep into the fourth quarter and shooting just 40.0 percent from the field. However, the Storm stayed with it and got some help from the crowd down the stretch, picking up the victory. The Storm moves to 14-0 at KeyArena this season and 23-4 on the year, surpassing the franchise record for wins in a season.
Lauren Jackson finished with 31 points, her fifth time this season with 30-plus. Despite cooling down after halftime, Jackson shot 11-of-22 from the field and grabbed eight rebounds. Swin Cash added 21 points on perfect 8-of-8 shooting at the free throw line. Cash's energy was critical to the Storm getting off to a good start tonight. It was a tough shooting night for Sue Bird, but one of her two field goals in nine attempts was a crucial three in the final minutes, while Tanisha Wright came up with the two free throws that held up as the game-winning points.
The Storm will look to extend the perfect season at the Key on Saturday night, hosting the Tulsa Shock. Arrive early to be among the first 4,000 fans and get your Lauren Jackson Bobblehead, then enjoy Jackson-themed in-game entertainment all night long. If you don't have tickets, get yours now!
Fourth Quarter: Storm 83, Connecticut 82
The Storm got a pretty good look for Tanisha Wright, who missed just inside the three-point line. Camille Little nearly chased down the rebound, but it went out of bounds with 2.5 seconds left. The referees awarded the ball to Connecticut, but they will look at the replay during this timeout to see whether the Storm might get the ball back. If not, the Sun will have one desperation shot to win.
Clinging to the Lead
Fourth Quarter: Storm 83, Connecticut 82
For the first time in the fourth quarter, the Storm has the lead. The teams traded trips to the free throw line, but Renee Montgomery split her attempts while Tanisha Wright made both of hers after a tough foul by Montgomery far away from the basket. The Storm then got a stop thanks to great defense with Lauren Jackson switching out on the smaller Kara Lawson and forcing an airballed three attempt. Now, the Storm has the ball with just two seconds left on the shot clock and 6.8 on the game clock after a timeout.
Fourth Quarter: Connecticut 81, Storm 81
Huge three-pointer from Sue Bird got the Storm within two. After that, the team forced a 24-second violation with great help defense against a driving Asjha Jones. Swin Cash then got to the free throw line and evened things up with two makes from the charity stripe. With 1:20 left to play, Mike Thibault takes a 20-second timeout.
Thibault Takes Time
Fourth Quarter: Connecticut 79, Storm 76
Connecticut pushed the lead to seven with 3:30 to go on a great Tina Charles hook shot over Lauren Jackson, but the Storm has answered back with consecutive layups from Jackson and Camille Little. The latter score got the Storm back within three with 2:35 to play. Sensing momentum turning, Mike Thibault took a quick timeout. Even so, the KeyArena crowd is on its feet during this timeout and will be very into the game's last two and a half minutes. Will that be enough to carry the Storm?
Storm's Energy Picking Up
Fourth Quarter: Connecticut 75, Storm 70
By scoring the first five points of this period, the Sun extended their run to 10-0 and took a 10-point lead, the team's largest of the evening. Since then, the Storm has picked up its level of play, scoring is unanswered points and now getting within five points. The team still isn't crisp, with spacing issues on offense, but is making up for it by simply outworking Connecticut on the offensive glass.
Now the crowd needs to get involved. Hopefully the Doppler Train will pick up the energy level in the building. After three years of talking about it, Adia Barnes finally made good on her notion of running down the stairs from our broadcast position and joining the Doppler Train.
Montgomery Carries Connecticut
End Third Quarter: Connecticut 66, Storm 62
Brian Agler talked before the game about what a big game this is for the Sun, which is two games out of the playoffs with eight left to play. In the loaded Eastern Conference, pretty much every game is going to be a must-win. In the second half, Connecticut is playing with the kind of energy and passion that reflects the desperation of their situation. The Sun also happens to have a super point guard in Renee Montgomery, the second-year UConn product. Fresh off a career-high 33 points Tuesday at Minnesota, Montgomery has been a revelation tonight, and she's only picking up steam. She had nine of her 21 points and six of her seven assists during the third quarter, helping Connecticut take a four-point lead to the final period. Montgomery is just way too quick right now for the Storm's defense. After scoring at first, now she's drawing the defense and dishing to open teammates in the paint.
Sun Makes a Run
Third Quarter: Storm 51, Connecticut 47
Nice response from Connecticut coming out of the break. The Sun has scored the last six points, cutting the Storm's lead to just four at 51-47. The last two scores have seen the Sun get the kind of easy buckets Brian Agler focuses on avoiding. Connecticut got its first fast-break bucket of the game when Tina Charles ran the floor and beat her defender to the rim. The Sun then got its first second-chance basket all night. Predictably, Agler took a timeout to try to address those issues.
Teddy Bear Toss Fun
Halftime: Storm 45, Connecticut 37
A fun annual tradition during tonight's halftime with the Teddy Bear Toss. Thanks to partner Bartell Drugs helping us sell bears in the arena (and matching each bear purchased at merchandise stands tonight by donating a second one), I'm pretty sure this was the biggest participation we've ever had in the Teddy Bear Toss. Bears rained down on the court for about a minute there, and fortunately several Storm staffers were on the floor to collect all the bears so they can be donated to help comfort children in emergency situations.
All-City Band in the House
Halftime: Storm 45, Connecticut 37
Our halftime performance tonight is from the All-City Band, which also performed the National Anthem before the game. Made up of musicians from throughout the Seattle Public School system, the All-City Band performs throughout the summer, including at last week's Seafair Torchlight Parade.
Storm Leads at the Break
Halftime: Storm 45, Connecticut 37
Solid first half for the Storm. With Connecticut trailing by just eight points, the Storm is still a long ways away from putting this two-game losing streak in the rear-view mirror, but the first half was a good start in that regard. In addition to an unconscious Lauren Jackson (22 points), the Storm got great energy from Swin Cash (12 points) and dominant rebounding. The latter factor may have been the difference in the game. The Storm had eight offensive rebounds against just nine Sun defensive boards, while Connecticut had only one offensive rebound. The second-chance-point statistic is insane: The Storm had 18 in the first half, while the Sun did not have any. Connecticut has stayed in this game thanks to Tina Charles in the paint and Renee Montgomery's explosiveness on the perimeter. Montgomery has scored 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting.
Second Quarter: Storm 41, Connecticut 35
The Storm's offense has slowed down a bit during this second quarter, but Lauren Jackson hasn't. She's got 20 points and is headed to the free throw line after this timeout with a chance to pad that total. Jackson is 7-of-10 from the field and has done it both inside and out. She's nearly scored half the Storm's points. I think this might be Jackson's first 20-point half this season.
The timing is fitting, since all week long we're celebrating Jackson. Check out our Lauren Jackson page for Top 10 lists from her career and more on her decade in Seattle. Then come out to the Key Saturday, when the first 4,000 fans will get LJ Bobbleheads and there will be Jackson-themed entertainment throughout the game.
Second Quarter: Storm 32, Connecticut 27
Few of the promotions we celebrate each season are more meaningful than Breast Health Awareness Night. During the first timeout of the game, breast cancer survivors were asked to stand and received a rousing ovation, followed by recognition for anyone affected by cancer of any kind. The pink around the arena has grown each year. Storm staff is outfitted in pink V Foundation T-shirts, and the coaching staff is all decked out in pink (including a very nice pink tie for Brian Agler). This is the first time the Storm has worn pink Bing uniforms. In years past, some WNBA teams have worn pink, but this year that's expanded to every team in the league during their Breast Health Awareness Nights.
Storm Opens Up a Lead
End First Quarter: Storm 27, Connecticut 18
The Storm put together a 10-1 run late in the first quarter, opening up a nine-point lead after one quarter. The defense stiffened a bit, as Connecticut made just two of its last nine shot attempts. Tan White came off the bench to shoot 0-of-4 from the field, including 0-of-3 beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Lauren Jackson stayed hot, scoring 13 first-quarter points on red-hot 5-of-7 shooting.
Fun timeout promotion involving Jr. Storm members. About a dozen kids lined up on the baseline, raced to put on shoes and then go to the other end of the court to make a basket. With so many youngsters shooting, it took a second, but one of the layups went in and we crowned a winner. If your child is not a part of Jr. Storm (presented by Bing), click here to learn more and sign up.
First Quarter: Storm 17, Connecticut 13
Did someone talk about offensive efficiency? The Storm has been lights out over the first five and a half minutes of this game. After 26 turnovers Tuesday in Tulsa, the Storm does not have one as of yet, an dhas converted those scoring opportunities. The team has made eight of its first 11 shots. Swin Cash has eight points and Lauren Jackson seven. Both players look too fast for their defensive assignments. (Worth noting: Tina Charles and Jackson are not defending each other right now at either end of the floor. Asjha Jones has been on Jackson.)
Cash and Tanisha Wright, the Storm's tone-setters, have also brought a ton of energy thus far. Cash struggled in the loss to Minnesota, and the team really plays much better when she's going well. Alas, the energy has not been enough yet to get stops at the other end. Tina Charles has six points and the Sun is shooting 62.5 percent itself in a high-scoring, back-and-forth start.
The Storm is a little bit banged up after this road trip. Center Lauren Jackson jammed her left thumb at Minnesota, suffering a sprained ligament. She was able to play Tuesday in Tulsa. Meanwhile, backup post Le'coe Willingham is dealing with a painful bruised knee. Agler updated the status of both players before the game.
Lauren: "Improving. It's still taped up, so it looks like she still has issues. It's a jammed thumb. All of us have had jammed thumbs again. If it gets hit again, I'm sure it will be sore again, but there's no significant damage to it. It's one of those things she can play through, and you just do it."
Le'coe: "Her being banged up has hurt us a little bit, just from the standpoint that it's hampered our rotation and she's played pretty well. She's going to play tonight. She had that collision with (Diana) Taurasi about nine days ago. Every game since then, she keeps getting hit in the same spot. It's a bruise, but it keeps getting hit in the same spot and it's extremely painful."
The Storm is wearing pink uniforms tonight for Breast Health Awareness Night.
Aaron Last/Storm Photos
Storm Looking to Get Back on Track
Since the last time we were at the Key, the Storm has seen its 13-game winning streak come to an end. In fact, for the first time all season, the Storm is riding a losing streak, having dropped games in both Minnesota and Tulsa. More than the wins and losses, Storm Head Coach Brian Agler doesn't like the way his team has been playing.
"We're in a little bit of a lull and have not been quite as sharp as we have been," he said before the game. "We need to get back playing Storm Basketball. I don't think we're far off, but it doesn't take much to get off either. It's a lot of little things. It's not any one big thing. It doesn't take much in this league."
The Storm hasn't quite been itself in terms of focus and execution.
"I think that we've taken a step back in our focus," he said. "I think that has been sort of a staple for us, our ability to focus and play together. For us to win games and most importantly play well, we have to have that.
"Our focus (tonight) is do the little things better: Play more efficient at the offensive end, find ways to get stops defensively, be able to play in transition, eliminate turnovers. We've had one-tenth of our turnovers for the year in the last two games, and that's not good."
Welcome to KeyArena, where the Storm is back tonight to host the Connecticut Sun in a game nationally televised on ESPN2. It's Breast Health Awareness Night at the Key, meaning plenty of pink in the crowd and even on the court, where the Storm will wear pink jerseys for the first time in franchise history. This should be a lot of fun as two of the most talented teams in the league square off, so stay with us all night long for the latest.