Live from Press Row - Storm vs. San Antonio
Storm Bounces Back with Blowout Win
Final: Storm 73, San Antonio 55
It was a rough road trip for the Storm, which could not come up with the big plays down the stretch to secure a win at San Antonio, Minnesota or Chicago. Those memories were erased with tonight's performance, which will send the Storm into the All-Star break on a high note. Playing against one of the Western Conference's top teams, the Storm pulled away in the second quarter and dominated after halftime, winning by 18 points.
The Storm's defensive effort was nothing short of phenomenal. The Silver Stars were held to 27.7 percent shooting and 35 points through the first three quarters. The Storm shut down a San Antonio bench that was the difference a week ago at the AT&T Center. Danielle Adams had one point on 0-of-3 shooting before leaving the game. Tanisha Wright led the way at the other end with 17 points. Swin Cash added 15 points, including four three-pointers, and nine rebounds. Ashley Robinson grabbed nine rebounds to go with six points as a starter and Sue Bird handed out seven assists. The bench combined for 23 points and maintained the level of play set by the starters.
So now it's on to the All-Star Game. Watch all the action on ABC beginning at 12:30 PT and be sure to stay tuned at halftime to see which of your Storm favorites were selected to the WNBA's Top 15 Players as part of the 15th Anniversary celebration. After that, it's back out on the road for a three-game road trip. Stay tuned to StormBasketball.com for complete coverage as the Storm tries to take this momentum away from KeyArena.
Fourth Quarter: Storm 67, San Antonio 50
During the timeout, Rodney Stuckey of the Detroit Pistons is out on the floor throwing T-shirts into the crowd. Stuckey, as well as Spencer Hawes, will be playing on this floor Saturday at 3:30 p.m. as part of the H206 Charity Game that pits a team of Seattle natives against select players from the rest of the league. Brandon Roy, rookie Isaiah Thomas, Jamal Crawford and many more will also be taking part. It should be a lot of fun and the proceeds benefit the A PLUS Youth Program, so check out a 2-for-1 offer for tickets.
Heading to All-Star
Fourth Quarter: Storm 65, San Antonio 43
With no true point guard on the floor for the Storm, this game has gotten a bit sloppy in the fourth quarter. Since the margin is still 22 points, that's not a big deal. What is more important right now is stealing a little bit of rest for Sue Bird. Bird and Swin Cash will have to take a red-eye flight tonight to be in San Antonio tomorrow for the start of All-Star festivities. It's a quick turnaround with the game on Saturday barely 36 hours away. So this was a terrific time for the Storm to win a blowout.
One worry for the All-Star Game: Danielle Adams left the game after tweaking an ankle and has not returned. There's no reason to push her to come back with the game this lopsided, but we hope she'll be OK to play on Saturday in front of the home crowd.
Chance for the Bench
End Third Quarter: Storm 57, San Antonio 35
The nice thing about the way tonight's game has gone for the Storm is that it's going to mean a chance to rest the starters here in the fourth quarter and give some nice minutes to the reserves and younger players. This is valuable time, certainly, for Ewelina Kobryn, as she adjusts to the WNBA. Minutes are also helpful for Belinda Snell, who hasn't gotten a lot of time on the court during the regular season after dealing with a sprained ankle in training camp.
Already, the Storm bench has 15 points tonight, above its season average. It looks like Katie Smith is starting to find the touch after suffering through a long shooting slump to start the year.
The Run Continues
Third Quarter: Storm 55, San Antonio 30
San Antonio Head Coach Dan Hughes might run out of timeouts trying to bring this Storm run to a halt. He just used another one as the Storm extended its lead to 25 points. The Silver Stars have been able to find the basket, but they continue to struggle with turnovers that lead to Seattle layups at the other end. Tanisha Wright has been terrific here in the quarter, scoring nine of her 13 points. The crowd is loving it and will make it very difficult for San Antonio to try to come back.
Storm Pulling Away
Third Quarter: Storm 44, San Antonio 22
Nearly perfect start to the third quarter for the Storm. San Antonio has turned the ball over on all four possessions so far, while Tanisha Wright has scored twice and handed out an assist on the other end of the floor. The result is a 12-0 run, a 22-point lead and a Dan Hughes timeout. The Silver Stars will need to turn things around quickly to avoid being blown out.
Halftime: Storm 38, San Antonio 22
Tonight's halftime entertainment was a fan slam dunk contest, but the big draw was the judges. In addition to Jayda Evans of the Seattle Times and your humble author, they included three Seattle basketball legends: Slick Watts, Spencer Hawes and a guy who knows a thing or two about dunking, Shawn Kemp.
Our final group of three contestants included the Assistant to Doppler and Doppler, but it was fan Colton who stole the show by leaping off the trampoline high into the air before finishing. Doppler tried to match with a blindfolded dunk, a la Cedric Ceballos in the 1992 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, but just missed off the rim. Congrats to Colton and all our contestants and thanks to our judges for making that halftime special.
Storm Defense Dominates First Half
Halftime: Storm 38, San Antonio 22
When the Storm has dominated at KeyArena this season, it has generally been with defense, and today was no exception. The Storm allowed San Antonio just 22 points during the first half - six fewer than the Silver Stars had scored in any half so far this season. During the second quarter, San Antonio was limited to eight points on 2-of-15 shooting. Other than Sophia Young, who has 11 points, none of the rest of the Silver Stars have been able to get anything going. Ruth Riley (four) is the only other San Antonio player with more than one field goal.
Second Quarter: Storm 32, San Antonio 22
Storm Assistant Coach Nancy Darsch will miss this weekend's All-Star festivities to tend to a family matter. To replace her on Brian Agler's staff, which will include Jenny Boucek, the WNBA turned to the opposite sideline and San Antonio Head Coach Dan Hughes. Before getting the Storm job, Agler was previously Hughes' assistant with the Silver Stars from 2005-07.
"I think it's great," said Agler. "In regards to Dan, he's a friend of mine and he gave me an opportunity. If it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't be here."
Talking to media before the game, Hughes had a good laugh about the situation.
"It's just fun for me," he said. "As I become an older coach, things like this are going to be interesting memories. What a great opportunity for Brian and I to go from competing against each other to being on the same team trying to get a win."
Opening Up the Lead
Second Quarter: Storm 26, San Antonio 17
San Antonio has scored just three points so far in the second quarter, allowing the Storm to push its lead to nine points, the largest it has been tonight. Ashley Robinson has been a key contributor to that defense, grabbing five rebounds in addition to scoring four points. Robinson has picked up right where she left off Tuesday night with contributions at both ends.
It's great timing, then to introduce our latest Storm mini-game during this timeout: ARobbin' Buckets, during which first Storm players (and Head Coach Brian Agler) and in the future contestants compete to bounce basketballs into garbage cans past Robinson's defense. Since the real A-Rob is a bit busy during games, we'll use a lifesize cutout for the fan competition. Check out video of our past Storm mini-games - start with Sue Bird Racing and use the related links to click through all of them so far.
Storm Thrives at the Line
End First Quarter: Storm 19, San Antonio 14
Storm Head Coach Brian Agler continues to emphasize getting to the free throw line, and his players got the message late in the first quarter. The Storm made three consecutive trips to the line, including a three-shot foul for Belinda Snell. The six free throws allowed the Storm to open up a five-point lead as we head to the second quarter. The Storm got the benefit of some close calls, but also was rewarded for aggressiveness. Those shots were Snell's first free throw attempts of the season.
The Storm is also getting some quality bench production, as all three players off the bench - Snell, Katie Smith and Le'coe Willingham - have already scored.
Storm Overcoming Turnovers
First Quarter: Storm 11, San Antonio 11
A familiar foe for the Storm early in games - turnover problems. The Storm has mishandled the basketball four times already for six San Antonio points. Yet it's still a tie game well into the first quarter because of hot shooting. The Storm has made five of its nine shot attempts, including a pair of layups for Camille Little, who has four points. Ruth Riley and Sophia Young have four apiece for the Silver Stars.
We'll see how this game changes as reserves filter into the game. Le'coe Willingham and Katie Smith are in for the Storm, while San Antonio h as its three key bench players in - Danielle Adams, Jia Perkins and Danielle Robinson.
For the second consecutive game, Ashley Robinson will get the nod in the middle for the Storm ahead of Le'coe Willingham. Starting on Tuesday in Chicago to match up with the Sky's height in the frontcourt, Robinson responded with a career-high 14 points and 10 rebounds for her first double-double in the WNBA.
"She played well in Chicago," said Storm Head Coach Brian Agler. "She'll start again tonight. I hope she can sustain it."
"She proved something to us last game. And she gives us more length at the rim."
Agler isn't sure whether Robinson will continue to start, but the opportunity is there. If Robinson maintains her recent level of play, she'll be difficult to take out of the opening five.
Hello from KeyArena, where we're making the most of a rare visit to the Storm's homecourt. After a three-game road trip, the Storm is back briefly - just long enough for Head Coach Brian Agler to do his laundry, he joked - before the All-Star break and another three-game road trip. We won't return to the Key until August, so it's important for the Storm to take advantage of the home court against the Western Conference rival San Antonio Silver Stars. A week ago down at the AT&T Center, the Storm nearly stole a victory before losing by three points. Now, the Storm will try to return the favor at home. It should be a good one, so stay with us all night long for the latest.