Live from Press Row - Storm vs. Tulsa
Special Win for Storm
Final: Storm 111, Tulsa 65
I think Storm Head Coach Brian Agler said it best at halftime on the KONG 6/16 and 1150 AM KKNW with the Storm already in control of the game: This is a very prideful team, and one that did not accept a loss in Tulsa earlier this week. The Storm responded with the most dominant performance from start to finish the WNBA has ever seen. Yes, the WNBA. The final 46-point margin of victory was the largest in league history, surpassing the Houston Comets' 110-65 win over the Washington Mystics way back in 1998. The Storm blew past the biggest win in franchise history, which was by 41 points over the Phoenix Mercury in 2002, and tied the most points in team history in regulation with 111. The Storm also broke another WNBA record with 57 rebounds, surpassing the 56 San Antonio pulled down in 2006.
What allowed the Storm to break so many records really was the performance of the bench. We've seen some times in the past where the starters build a large lead and it shrinks over the final quarter with reserves in the game. This time around, the Storm actually kept building the lead in the fourth period despite heavy, heavy minutes from reserves, who played from late in the third quarter through the end of the game. The bench combined for an incredible 56 points, with three of them scoring double-figures. Svetlana Abrosimova actually led the Storm with 20 points, while Abby Bishop (eight points) and Jana Veselá (11) had new career highs and Ashley Robinson tied hers with 10 points. Yes, the starters were pretty good themselves, staking the Storm to the huge lead.
Looking ahead, the win brought the Storm's magic number for clinching home-court advantage throughout the playoffs down to one game. Either an Indiana loss or a Storm win will seal the deal, and the Fever plays tomorrow at Phoenix, so it could be wrapped up that quickly. Otherwise, the Storm will have a chance to clinch things on Tuesday in Atlanta in the opener of a three-game East Coast swing. Stormbasketball.com will have complete coverage of the trip. The Storm is back home a week from Tuesday to host the Minnesota Lynx. Get 2-for-1 tickets for the game with our "2-for-Tuesday" offer. We hope to see you out at the Key, where the Storm is going for a perfect home season.
Storm Making History
Fourth Quarter: Storm 100, Tulsa 50
Here's a great story that was relayed to us by Anne Levinson from Force 10 Hoops L.L.C. Levinson is sitting courtside with U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, who represents Washington's 1st Congressional District. Rep. Inslee was making an appearance yesterday where he met four grade-school girls and their teacher. One of the youngsters passed out at the podium because of the excitement. She was fine, and Rep. Inslee invited the girls to tonight's Storm game. As basketball players and big fans, they were thrilled by the opportunity.
They're seeing the Storm make history. Already, the Storm has reached the century mark for just the fourth time in franchise history - and the first against an opponent besides Phoenix. Now, the Storm is challenging records for the biggest win in franchise history (41 points) and even WNBA history (45 points). Stay tuned.
Great Crowd ... Come Out to the Key!
Fourth Quarter: Storm 95, Tulsa 44
Because this has been such an awesome performance by the Storm on the court, one thing that has gotten overshadowed a little bit is the phenomenal crowd at KeyArena tonight. It's a full house as people turned out for Lauren Jackson bobbleheads and to see Seattle's hottest team. If you haven't come out to see the Storm in person this season, you're running out of chances in the regular season. However, the playoffs are coming. Today, tickets for Game 1 of the Storm's first-round series went on sale. The opponent is still to be determined - Los Angeles, Minnesota and San Antonio are all battling for the last two spots in the Western Conference race - but we know that game will be played at KeyArena on either Aug. 25 or Aug. 26. Get your tickets now!
Extended Bench Action
End Third Quarter: Storm 85, Tulsa 42
As of about the midway point of the third quarter, it looks like the nights came to an end for the Storm's starters. None of the five played more than 22 minutes, but four out of five scored double-figures (only Sue Bird was shy) and Lauren Jackson found time to post her ninth double-double of the season. This will probably be the longest continuous run of the season for the Storm's younger players, and you wonder if they might not get tired or we might see some subs at some point. Still, the playing time is hugely valuable for rookies Alison Lacey and Ashley Bishop. So far, the reserves have continued pouring it on, keeping the Storm's lead above 40 points.
Camille Hits a Thousand
Third Quarter: Storm 74, Tulsa 31
With her first bucket of the third quarter, Storm forward Camille Little reached 1,000 points for her WNBA career. Jackson is the 136th player in league history to reach the milestone, and the second player to do so for the Storm this season. Le'coe Willingham scored her 1,000th point earlier in the year.
Halftime: Storm 60, Tulsa 27
The highlight of tonight's tribute to Lauren Jackson's 10 seasons in Seattle came before the tip, when Lisa Brummel and Dawn Trudeau from Force 10 Hoops L.L.C., the Storm's ownership group, presented Jackson with a couple of gifts. She received an oversized jersey signed by fans on the KeyArena concourse during the last two games as well as a bracelet with 10 rubies and 10 emeralds commemorating her 10 seasons.
At halftime, our video feature spotlighted the top 10 moments from Jackson's Storm career. If you've been reading stormbasketball.com, you already saw our version of that list, but Storm videographer David Albright dig a great job of adding video footage and quotes from LJ herself. Starting with Jackson re-signing with the Storm in 2009, the last four moments all drew huge ovations.
Huge First Half for the Storm
Halftime: Storm 60, Tulsa 27
Nearly a record-setting first half for the Storm, which came within one point of the highest-scoring half in franchise history with 60 points. Everything was falling for the Storm, which shot 57.1 percent from the field, made five three-pointers and knocked down 15 free throws in 16 attempts. The Storm was equally good at the defensive end, holding Tulsa to 31.3 percent shooting and forcing nine turnovers. Limiting the Shock to eight free throw attempts was also big after the Shock tried 28 free throws on Tuesday.
No one player has really stood out for the Storm tonight. Lauren Jackson has actually been fairly quiet on the night we celebrate her career, scoring six points and grabbing eight rebounds. Sue Bird, meanwhile, has just three points. However, four Storm players have scored at least eight points, including Swin Cash (12) and Tanisha Wright (10) in double-figures. Even Abby Bishop got in the act, checking in for the final minute and knocking down the three-pointer that got the Storm to 60 points.
Keep Running, Running
Second Quarter: Storm 48, Tulsa 17
What impressive runs for the Storm in the first half tonight. First it was a 13-0 run to start the game, then a 13-0 run to end the first quarter and now an 18-2 run that has put Tulsa clearly in the rear-view mirror. This is some of the best all-around basketball of the season. Great series of video messages for Lauren Jackson celebrating her 10th year in Seattle on ArenaVision during the timeout. We heard from Storm folks - Karen Bryant, former Head Coach Lin Dunn, Adia Barnes - as well as Seattle sports celebrities like Matt Hasselbeck (also entering his 10th season here in Seattle; he said he's still looking for the championship LJ and the Storm won in 2004) and Dave Niehaus.
Second Quarter: Storm 40, Tulsa 15
We didn't talk a lot about it before the game, but one big reason the Shock was able to beat the Storm on Tuesday and has struggled against Seattle in the past was rebounding. The Storm still had the advantage in Tulsa, but the Shock held its own on the glass in the second half. Tonight, it's been all Storm in terms of rebounding. It's a 21-5 advantage for the Storm on the glass, including eight offensive rebounds to just four Tulsa defensive boards. Even when the Storm misses a shot (which hasn't been often; the team is shooting 56.0 percent from the field), a second chance has been twice as likely as a stop. The Storm has scored 12 second-chance points, including back-to-back follow layups from Camille Little in this quarter. Little has eight points and three boards.
Storm Takes Command
End First Quarter: Storm 28, Tulsa 9
Great answer by the Storm to Tulsa's answer. The Shock got within six at 15-9. From there through the end of the first quarter, it was another 13-0 Storm run to push the lead to 19 points. The Storm held Tulsa to 4-of-17 shooting and forced four turnovers, while outrebounding the Shock 15-3 in the first quarter. Swin Cash led the way with 10 points, while the Storm also got a nice lift from the bench. Le'coe Willingham scored five quick points to help the Storm pull away.
During the quarter break, the winner of our Lauren Jackson Super Fan contest presented by Bing was announced. Six-and-a-half-year-old Olivia won with a cute video about what a big Jackson fan she is, part of which was played on ArenaVision during the break. Olivia won a netbook computer courtesy of Bing, while all three of our finalists won great prizes.
Cash Stealing Show Early on LJ's Night
First Quarter: Storm 15, Tulsa 7
You figured with all the hoopla around Lauren Jackson tonight that the incredible Aussie might come out with a strong start, but instead Swin Cash has helped the Storm build an early lead against the Tulsa Shock with her energy and scoring. Cash scored the first seven points of the game. The Storm was able to get out and run early, scoring the game's first 13 points, and it looked like this might be all Storm. But Tulsa has responded well, following up with a 7-2 run to secure momentum.
Quick Turnaround vs. Tulsa
Just four days have passed from when the Storm lost Tuesday in Tulsa, so that game remains fresh in the minds of players and coaches. They are determined to make sure the mistakes that cost the Storm on Tuesday are not made again.
"It wasn't real enjoyable to watch, to be honest with you," Storm Head Coach Brian Agler said of going back through the film. "We've shown a little bit to our team. We didn't do anything yesterday [as far as practice], but we watched film a couple of times today. It was the combination of a lot of things. I give Tulsa a lot of credit - they play hard, they compete, they try to create havoc. If you're not sharp, if you're run down, if you're not motivated, then it will cost you. All those things we were. Why? I don't know. I do know this - we're human beings. We fell into that trip, and I hope it got our attention. We'll find out."
Hello from KeyArena, where the Storm and the Tulsa Shock are preparing for tonight's tip-off. The stands are already filling up with Storm fans, who arrived early en masse to be among the first 4,000 fans and get a Lauren Jackson Bobblehead at the doors. We'll use the occasion to celebrate Jackson's phenomenal decade in Seattle with a lot of fun video features throughout the game. For more, check out our page honoring Jackson.