Live from Press Row: Storm vs. Phoenix
Mercury Holds Off Storm
Final: Phoenix 75, Storm 68
During the final two minutes as all game, the Storm couldn't get the scores necessary to win. The team finished the game shooting 34.3 percent from the field and 8-of-26 (30.8 percent) from beyond the arc. Just one of the 10 Storm players who saw action made even half of her attempts from the field. At times, the team rushed things, but there were also good looks that simply refused to fall. Phoenix, by contrast, got timely scores from Samantha Prahalis and DeWanna Bonner, who finished with 24 points and 11 boards.
Camille Little led the Storm with 11 points. It was a balanced scoring effort with two more players (Tina Thompson and Tanisha Wright) scoring 10 points and five others posting at least six points. Wright led the way on the glass with eight rebounds and Sue Bird handed out eight assists on an atypical shooting night for her.
The Storm will have plenty of time to work on offensive execution in practice over the next week before returning to the court next Thursday to host the Tulsa Shock in the finale of this seven-game homestand. Join us as the Storm makes its push toward the playoffs - Get your tickets now!
Can We Call it a Comeback?
Fourth Quarter: Phoenix 71, Storm 66
The Storm has turned things around. Whether it will be enough remains to be seen. The reserve trio of Shekinna Stricklen, Tina Thompson and Ann Wauters did a terrific job in the fourth quarter. Stricklen's three briefly got the Storm within three points. Right now, it's a five-point advantage with a jump ball on the Storm's end of the court. Lauren Jackson and Camille Little are coming back to finish the game but Stricklen will stay on the floor after this timeout.
Mercury in Control
Fourth Quarter: Phoenix 67, Storm 59
As the Storm's youngest fans ride the Doppler Train, the Storm has to find a way to change the momentum of this game. Phoenix opened the quarter with a 13-2 run to take a 12-point lead before Tina Thompson cut into it with her second three-pointer of the night. The Mercury badly wants this game, as is evident from the enthusiasm of its bench - a stark contrast from what we saw in Phoenix's previous visits without Diana Taurasi on the court. Phoenix has been attacking on offense and the glass with success.
The Storm still seems somewhat out of rhythm. Brian Agler has tried a variety of lineups during the fourth quarter in the hopes of finding a combination that will work and give the offense some life.
10 Minutes to Break This Tie
End Third Quarter: Phoenix 54, Storm 54
All of a sudden, things have gotten intense between the Phoenix Mercury and the Seattle Storm. During the third quarter, play began to get more physical on both sides with each team sensing the possibility of a victory. Players also grew frustrated with the refereeing, which led Diana Taurasi to pick up her first technical of the season.
The score can't get any closer as we head to the final period. Shekinna Stricklen gave the Storm the lead with a three-pointer late in the third, but fellow rookie Samantha Prahalis answered with a runner to tie the game in the closing seconds. Stricklen has six points and six rebounds off the bench. The Storm has been led by Camille Little, with 11 points, and Tanisha Wright, with 10.
One factor to watch down the stretch is that the Storm has only one timeout remaining after using a pair of them during scrambles for loose balls in the third quarter.
Storm Still Struggling
Third Quarter: Phoenix 43, Storm 36
The way the Storm started the third quarter on offense was encouraging. The team got buckets on its first two possessions, one from Sue Bird and the other Lauren Jackson's first score of the night, which came off a set play. The Storm hasn't matched that level at the defensive end, allowing Phoenix to score seven points in 1:44. A disappointed Brian Agler took an early timeout to try to correct the issues.
Women of Inspiration
Halftime: Phoenix 36, Storm 32
The annual halftime ceremony honoring the Storm's Women of Inspiration presented by Moss Adams LLP is always a special moment during the season. We started tonight by recognizing a past Woman of Inspiration - KOMO TV anchor Kathi Goertzen, a member of the inaugural class of Women of Inspiration in 2006 who recently lost her lengthy battle with brain tumors. Goertzen's family represented her on the floor as we remembered Goertzen's pioneering career.
After that, it was time to turn the focus to this year's group of four Women of Inspiration: Paula Boggs, Bobbe Bridge, Kate Starbird and Patty Stonesifer. As they were introduced, they received a personalized Storm jersey, plaque and flowers from Dawn Trudeau of Force 10 Hoops, WNBA President Laurel Richie and a representative from Moss Adams CEO.
We're already thinking about next year's group of inspiring women. If you'd like to nominate someone who inspires you, email us who and why at WOI@StormBasketball.com.
Phoenix Leads Heading to the Locker Room
Halftime: Phoenix 36, Storm 32
By her usual standards, Diana Taurasi has been quiet tonight, but a three-pointer late in the second quarter helped Phoenix build a four-point lead at the break. The Storm managed just 14 points on 3-of-15 shooting during the second quarter and will surely spend much of halftime discussing how to get better ball and player movement on offense against this Phoenix zone.
We'll also see whether the Storm can get Lauren Jackson going. The Aussie has yet to find a rhythm and missed all four of her shot attempts in nine minutes of action. The Storm is obviously a much more difficult team to defend when Jackson is a threat inside and out, so she might see some early touches.
Not a Lot of Offense Tonight
Second Quarter: Storm 29, Phoenix 29
If Sunday night showed the potential for a Storm team at full strength, tonight's first half has shown the challenges of getting everyone back on the same page. The Storm has struggled offensively here in the second quarter, making just three shots in 12 attempts. Fortunately, Phoenix hasn't been a whole lot more effective on offense, leaving us tied with 2:41 left to play in the first half.
Svetlana Abrosimova has provided a nice boost of energy for the Storm off the bench, scoring five points and grabbing two boards in seven minutes of action.
Join the Storm in Phoenix
Second Quarter: Storm 26, Phoenix 25
The last meeting between these two teams will double as the final game of the regular season on Sept. 23 at US Airways Center in Phoenix. This is your opportunity to join the Storm on the road with our special Fan Road Trip package presented by Alaska Airlines. Enjoy a discount on round-trip airfair to Phoenix and your hotel room and also take part in a pep rally before the game and a postgame event with players and coaches. For more details, check out our page on the Fan Road Trip.
Thompson Gives Storm Lead
End First Quarter: Storm 18, Phoenix 17
"Give the ball to Tina" has become an effective play for the Storm to end first quarters. For the second consecutive game, Thompson knocked down a three-pointer on the Storm's final possession of the opening period. When Samantha Prahalis missed at the buzzer at the other end, the Storm took the lead to the quarter break to the crowd's delight.
The Storm has gotten some good looks against the Mercury's 2-3 zone defense and is shooting 47.1 percent from the field - 60 percent on two-point attempts. Still, the Storm needs to tighten up its defense. Phoenix has had opportunities, especially from beyond the arc, that haven't yet gone down. The Mercury is shooting just 33.3 percent but bolstered its offense with five offensive rebounds.
Phoenix Has Come to Play
First Quarter: Phoenix 10, Storm 8
We saw the impact of Diana Taurasi's return to the lineup almost immediately. Taurasi followed a Samantha Prahalis three with one of her own to give the Mercury a 6-0 lead before Storm fans had even gotten comfortable. Phoenix played hard without Taurasi, certainly, but there's a different level of energy on the floor in the early going. The Mercury has caused the Storm problems on the offensive glass, coming up with repeated seconds chances on that last possession.
Camille Little is largely responsible for the Storm being in the game. She has scored six of the Storm's first eight points, finding openings around the basket for her trademark lefty finish.
Integrating Thompson and Wauters
Tonight is game number two for the Storm with Tina Thompson and Ann Wauters healthy and in the lineup. On Sunday, Thompson hitting a buzzer-beating three at the end of the first quarter and Wauters scored nine points in nine minutes during her first action in nearly two months.
"For not having very many practices under their belt, I thought both played pretty well," said Storm Head Coach Brian Agler. "Timing and the pace the game was played at was a little different, but I thought they both played well. "
After getting another couple practices under their belt, Thompson and Wauters may be able to ramp up their minutes a bit tonight.
"We were just talking about this [as a coaching staff] - what our rotation's going to be like," Agler said. "We don't know if we'll do it the same way we did our game on Sunday with Ewa coming off the bench first, but I know Ann and Tina both have not been restricted in practice in any kind of way. That tells me that they'll be able to play more minutes if needed."
Look for Agler to use a variety of combinations of his five post players, looking to see which groupings work best together.
We're back at KeyArena where the Storm will look to improve to 4-0 against the rival Phoenix Mercury with a win tonight. This is a different Mercury team than the one the Storm beat here two weeks ago, however. Diana Taurasi made her return to the lineup on Saturday in Phoenix and will start tonight, making the Mercury much more dangerous than its record would indicate. It's also Women of Inspiration Night presented by Moss Adams LLP and we're celebrating Faith and Family, so stay with us all night long for all the latest action on and off the court.