Courtside Blog - May 22 vs. Shock

6:20 p.m. Welcome Sky fans, my name is Dave and I will be reporting to you live from the scorer’s table all season long! Both the Sky and the Shock are on the court right now going through shooting drills. I’m doing my best to watch the pregame routines, but my view is currently obstructed by two very large men…Detroit’s Head Coach Bill Laimbeer (6’11”) and Assistant Coach Rick Mahorn (6’10”) - who are both sitting on the scorers’ table directly in front of me! More updates to follow when I can actually see something.

6:40 p.m. I cannot repeat about 75% of the conversation that I just heard between Mahorn and Laimbeer.

6:41 p.m. Even though it’s a preseason game, there is no shortage of storylines this evening, especially for the Sky. You have Chinese sensation Chen Nan and first-round draft pick Kristi Toliver both making their debut in Sky uniforms. On the Detroit side, the biggest news for the Shock deals with the injury list. The team’s website indicates that Kristin Haynie, Deanna Nolan, Plenette Pierson, Cheryl Ford and Taj McWilliams-Franklin will not be playing tonight.

7:05 p.m. Here’s your starting lineup for the sky: Jia Perkins and Dominique Canty at guard, Brooke Wyckoff and Candice Dupree at forward and Sylvia Fowles at center. For the Shock, Alexis Hornbuckle and Shavonte Zellous will be the guards, Kristen Rasmussen and Katie Smith are the forwards and Kara Braxton will start at center.

7:10 p.m. Here comes the Sky!

7:29 p.m. I still get chills every time I hear the voice of Ray Clay, the PA announcer for the Sky. If you aren’t familiar with his work, he’s the voice behind the Bulls’ introductions during the Jordan era. His voice is synonymous with Chicago basketball, and I look forward to hearing him all season long.

7:35 p.m. It is very loud in here … time for the tip!

7:00 left, 1st qtr. A rather fast-paced game early on, as both teams have not wasted any time moving the ball up the court. Fowles banks one in off the glass early on for a 6-5 Sky lead.

5:17 left, 1st qtr. The Sky appears to be a step faster than the Shock tonight, getting a couple of blocks on defense and beating their opponents on the boards. It’s 11-5 in favor of the Sky, who is on a 7-0 run.

2:16 left, 1st qtr. Mistie Bass, KB Sharp and Chen Nan all take the court for the Sky—Nan for the first time in the WNBA. Sky up 13-12. Coach Laimbeer just told Kara Braxton to make sure she gets the ball to see what Nan is made of.

End of 1st qtr. Sky have the lead early on, 18-16. The Shock was able to knock down a few shots near the end of the quarter after some good ball movement. I must say I am incredibly impressed with my first quarter of WNBA action live and in person. The game is very fasted paced and the action is fierce and intense!

5:41 left, 2nd qtr. On offense, the Sky continues to move the ball very well, and have taken a 24-21 lead. Sylvia Fowles leads all scores with 7 points. Wyckoff, Fowles, Bass and Chen have three rebounds each and the Sky as a team are outrebounding the Shock 18-12.

3:29 left, 2nd qtr. First-round pick Kristi Toliver steps onto the court for the first time as a member of the Sky. I get the sense that Laimbeer and Mahorn are watching her very closely to see what they will be up against during the regular season.

Halftime – A three-pointer from the top of the key with a few seconds left by Toliver gives the Sky a 38-30 lead at the break. Fowles leads all scorers with 12 points, and the Sky’s edge in rebounding is now 26-19! It’s been a pretty good half for the Sky—an early indication that the Sky is playing for keeps in 2009!

Beginning 3rd qtr. Both Nan and Fowles are on the court together for the first time. Here is what I have been waiting for all night. I don’t know how any team in the league can match up against these two. A few plays into the half, Nan tosses up an amazing alley-oop to Fowles, who finished the bucket and is fouled on the play!

6:43 left, 3rd qtr. Laimbeer really wants a carrying violation called against Jennifer Risper, the refs have yet to see it that way. It is rather amusing to watch Laimbeer as he grows more and more frustrated with things when they don’t go his way. The Sky is starting the second half the way they ended the first, extending their lead to 44-34. Make that 46-34 now.

4:59 left, 3rd qtr. Timeout called by the Shock, Sky up 50-34. They are outscoring the Shock 12-4 this half. Great to see the Sky come out hot after Coach Key’s halftime adjustments.

3:00 left, 3rd qtr. Here’s your stat of the night so far: Sky have 26 points in the paint, only 8 for the Shock. Fowles is a big part of that, she has 21 tonight. Sky up big, 56-36.

End of 3rd qtr. The Sky got a bit sloppy at the end of that quarter, turning the ball over a few times and allowing the Shock to get some easy points. They still lead, 58-47.

6:00 left, 4th qtr. What was once a 20-point lead is now down to just six, as the Shock have really picked up their play in the 4th. Score is now 62-56 in favor of the Sky, but you’d have to give the momentum to the Shock right now.

3:14 left, 4th qtr. Following a 3-point play by Shyra Ely, the Sky has grabbed a 68-62 lead, but I still feel a bit uneasy about the win. The Sky is going to need to keep scoring to seal the deal.

1:31 left, 4th qtr. Sky leading 70-65, Coach Key just took a full timeout.

End of game – The Shock took a shot clock violation with 57 seconds left, ending any chances of a comeback in this one. Your final is 71-67 in favor of the Sky, starting off their preseason the right way. Fowles led the scoring with 21 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Nan scored 9 in her Sky debut, while Bass pulled down seven rebounds. Great start to the preseason for the Sky.

Come join us Tuesday night when the Sky will take on the Entertainment League in the Basketball Battle of the Sexes at 7 p.m. at the UIC Pavilion. Call 866-SKY-WNBA for tickets, and we hope to see you here!