Live from Press Row: Storm vs. San Antonio
Storm Wins Home Finale
Final: Storm 84, San Antonio 75
It wasn't as easy as the halftime score might have suggested, but the Storm made free throws down the stretch and held off a late San Antonio comeback effort to complete the home portion of the schedule for the regular season on a winning note. After the 84-75 victory, Tina Thompson thanked the crowd for its support and players threw autographed T-shirts and their shoes into the crowd to cap off Fan Appreciation Night.
The Storm achieved its goal of building momentum heading toward the postseason. Playing against a quality San Antonio team, the Storm was balanced on offense and stout on defense, allowing 36.5 percent shooting. Katie Smith ended up leading the Storm attack with 16 points, six rebounds and a season-high six assists. Ann Wauters came off the bench for 14 points and a season-high 13 rebounds in her first double-double of 2012. Still, the most important statistic might have been Lauren Jackson's 11 points in 11 minutes on 5-of-7 shooting. LJ looked ready for the playoffs, and that has to be a scary prospect for the Minnesota LYnx.
Next up, the Storm wraps the regular season on national TV with Sunday's season finale at Phoenix at 12 noon on ESPN2. Then, the team will turn its attention to the playoffs. Game 1 at Minnesota is one week from tonight at 6 p.m. on ESPN2. The series turns to Seattle for Game 2 on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 6 p.m. That game will be on ESPN, so be sure to bring out yours signs and represent #StormCrazies. If you don't have your tickets, get them now and we'll see you then!
Storm Maintains Double-Figure Lead
Fourth Quarter: Storm 73, San Antonio 61
At the 4:34 mark, it looks like the Storm has weathered the storm (yes, pun intended). The lead, which was down as low as five, has been double figures much of the quarter and is now 12 after a pair of Camille Little free throws. Dan Hughes called a timeout to try to set up a final push for this game. San Antonio has gotten 14 points and seven rebounds from Danielle Adams off the bench, but Tanisha Wright has led a typically strong defensive effort against Becky Hammon, who has nine points on 3-of-8 shooting.
On the other side, the Storm is likely hoping to hold off the Silver Stars enough to not have to use Lauren Jackson down the stretch. Sue Bird is also on the bench right now, getting a well-deserved rest. It's possible that if Bird doesn't return for a bit here, Katie Smith will be the only Storm player who plays 30 minutes tonight.
Wauters Doubles Up
Fourth Quarter: Storm 66, San Antonio 56
With her bucket at the start of the fourth quarter, Ann Wauters has her first double-double in a Storm uniform. She's threatening her career high of 15 rebounds. We'll see how much Wauters plays the rest of the way and whether Lauren Jackson returns to the game after playing 11 minutes, nearly entirely in the first half.
Wauters is one of four Storm players in double figures, and Katie Smith and Shekinna Stricklen are a bucket apiece away from joining them in a game that has showcased the kind of depth the Storm possesses when healthy.
Stormy Award Voting Open Now
End Third Quarter: Storm 62, San Antonio 54
A three-point play by Ann Wauters helped the Storm gain some momentum heading into the fourth quarter. It's an eight-point Storm advantage and Wauters has been very effective off the bench, scoring eight points and grabbing a season-high 10 rebounds.
During the quarter break, the fans at KeyArena got a look at this year's nominee for the Stormy Award, honoring the best acting by a Storm player or Head Coach Brian Agler in the Movie Magic clips shown during Storm games. You can vote now before we announce the winner at Game 2 against Minnesota on Sunday, Sept. 30. Click here to check out the nominees and cast your vote!
Third Quarter: Storm 55, San Antonio 50
If there was any question about how seriously San Antonio would take this game after being locked into the third spot in the Eastern Conference, it's been answered since halftime. The Silver Stars have been scrapping and outworking the Storm, in sharp contrast from their relatively flat play during the first half. The result has been a 21-7 advantage in the period that has cut the Storm's lead to just five points and forced Brian Agler to take another timeout.
Third Quarter: Storm 48, San Antonio 35
Two minutes and 20 seconds into the third quarter, the KeyArena crowd is still standing and awaiting the Storm's first bucket of the second half. With San Antonio scoring six unanswered points to cut the Storm's lead to 13, Brian Agler took a quick timeout to try to get things back on track.
The Storm's offense hasn't been terrible; a couple of looks just failed to go down, and the drought probably would not be so noticeably if the Silver Stars hadn't started well at the other end. In the locker room and again on the bench, Dan Hughes exhorted his team to drive rather than settling for perimeter jumpers after shooting 3-of-13 from downtown in the first half. He's been pleased with the results thus far.
Storm Dominates First Half
Halftime: Storm 48, San Antonio 29
The San Antonio Silver Stars have owned the buzzers, scoring at the end of both quarters. The rest of the first 20 minutes belonged to the Storm, which was a replay review (it changed Katie Smith's shot, ruled a three on the floor, to a two) away from holding a lead of 20-plus points at halftime for just the second time this season. The Storm shot 55.9 percent from the field while holding San Antonio to 34.2 percent accuracy.
The Storm had 13 assists on 19 field goals, led by Katie Smith, whose six are already a season high. Five different players scored at least seven points, with Lauren Jackson (11) the only player to reach double figures. Overall, the Storm looked very much like a finely-tuned machine, which is an encouraging sign with Game 1 of the team's series with the Minnesota Lynx just one week away.
Storm Offense Shining
Second Quarter: Storm 38, San Antonio 24
With the Storm pulling away, San Antonio Head Coach Dan Hughes - sporting the Jimi Hendrix tie he often likes to wear here in Seattle as a tribute - had to spend his second timeout of the quarter with just over four minutes remaining and the Storm leading by 14 points.
The key has been the Storm's efficient offense. The team is shooting 51.7 percent from the field, has made five three-pointers and has turned the ball over just three times, a major change from the sloppy play we've seen at times over the last couple of weeks. Lauren Jackson has set the tone with 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting, and the Storm is +16 with her on the floor. Beyond that, Sue Bird and Camille Little have scored eight points apiece and Katie Smith continues to look for her own shot and force the defense to respect her as a threat from beyond the arc. She's got five points and four assists.
Lauren Reaches 6K
Second Quarter: Storm 27, San Antonio 17
Lauren Jackson made quick work of the eight points she needed to reach a huge milestone - 6,000 career points. After scoring two points in the first quarter, Jackson had seven in the first 1:45 of the second period - a three-pointer, followed in rapid succession by a long two and a driving layup that put her past the mark. Jackson is the fourth player in WNBA history to reach 6,000 career points, joining teammates Katie Smith and Tina Thompson, as well as Lisa Leslie. Jackson is the youngest player to the milestone by nearly three years and reached it in 32 fewer games than any other player to date. Next up: Jackson takes aim at the 7,000 club, which currently consists exclusively of Thompson, who got there Tuesday night to start a week of history at KeyArena
Free Throw Showdown
End First Quarter: Storm 20, San Antonio 17
During the quarter break, we had the finals of our season-long Pemco Free Throw Down competition. The two leading pop-a-shot scorers from this season on the concourse were invited to center court to compete to make the most shots in 45 seconds. Congratulations to Michael, our winner, for his accurate shooting
The Storm holds a three-point lead after one quarter despite Sophia Young beating the buzzer with a jumper. Sue Bird scored five points in the late stages of the period to give the Storm the edge.
Storm Starts Solidly
First Quarter: Storm 13, San Antonio 6
Through five-plus minutes, the Storm is doubling up the Silver Stars from the field. The Storm has made six of its 10 shot attempts while holding San Antonio to just 3-of-10 shooting. Camille Little has been the key, knocking down three shots, including a triple, for seven points. More important to the Storm's playoff chances, Lauren Jackson looked comfortable during her stint on the floor before being replaced by Ann Wauters. Jackson made a jumper and rimmed out a three.
Jackson Will Start, Play "Minimal" Minutes
As expected, the Storm will have All-Star Lauren Jackson back in the lineup tonight after Jackson missed the last three games with a strained left hamstring. While Jackson will start, Head Coach Brian Agler cautioned not to expect heavy action from her as she works back prior to the postseason.
"It will be minimal minutes compared to what she's used to playing," he said. "It will be approximately X amount of minutes. I don't know what that X is."
Minimal minutes will still help the Storm build cohesion with Jackson, who has played seven games this season.
The Storm will be without wing Svetlana Abrosimova, who remains day-to-day with a sprained right wrist suffered during Tuesday's win over Chicago.
For the last time during the regular season, hello from KeyArena, where the Storm is getting set to take on the San Antonio Silver Stars in the home finale as we celebrate Fan Appreciation Night. Tonight, the spotlight is all on the fans who make KeyArena such a difficult place for opponents to play. To recognize this, Storm employees are all wearing "Thank You" T-shirts. The first 3,000 fans got their own #StormCrazies T-shirts, and there will be special giveaways throughout the game. It should be a lot of fun as these two teams who have clinched playoff spots in the Western Conference square off, so stay with us all night long for the latest.