Courtside Blog - Aug. 22 vs. Shock

Good evening Sky fans! Welcome to the UIC Pavilion for a midwestern matchup between the Sky and the Detroit Shock. This is Dave, sitting at the scorers’ table alongside one of our special guests for the evening: Meredith from Girl Scout Troop 1705. It’s Girl Scout night here at the Pavilion, and we’ve got Girl Scouts from Chicago and the Northwest Indiana area all over the arena tonight, helping us with game operations! Meredith will be blogging from tonight’s game as well, you can read about her experience by clicking here.

During shoot-around I spoke with Mistie Bass, who makes her regular season debut tonight. First I asked her what it was like to get the call to come back to the WNBA: “Any call from the league is a blessing. All I could do was stay ready and I did that.” Then she talked about Detroit’s style of play: “We know that Detroit is a real physical team. So, with Syl out I hope I can fill that void by getting under the basket, being physical, and pulling down a few rebounds.”

Coach Key shared part of the Sky’s game-plan for tonight: “With Sylvia out, we don’t have as large of an inside presence. They’re big and strong, so we’re going to have to be smaller and quicker. If they get the ball in the post, we’ll have to gang up on them. We want to quicken the pace for sure.”

As the game goes on, I’ll be keeping an eye on other games with playoff implications. Chicago is currently tied for fourth in the East with Washington. Let’s keep the pressure on them with a win!

Early in the first, Jia Perkins was whistled for a foul, a call she didn’t appreciate. During the free throw attempts, Jia looked at the Official and stuck her arm straight up in the air—with a smirk on her face—to say she went straight up. The Official just laughed and shook his head in disagreement. We’re halfway through an even first quarter—it’s a 9-9 tie with 4:46 left.

Pretty good start for the Sky in the first 10 minutes. After one, Chicago leads 22-21. Candice Dupree leads Chicago with eight points, Tamera Young has five. Looking good so far! Checking other Eastern Conference teams: Minnesota leads Connecticut 66-59 near the end of three quarters. We’ll be cheering for the Lynx the rest of the night!

Here we go Sky! They’ve been outscoring the Shock 11-4 so far in the 2nd, and the Sky lead is now 33-25 as we move under five minutes until half-time.

A Dupree drive to the basket was stopped by a Katie Smith steal for Detroit—although it looked to me like Smith got more arm than ball. Coach Key agreed with me, as he exploded out of his seat when no foul was called. A few possessions later, Candice was called for a foul after being a little too aggressive going on a block attempt. Coach Key told Dupree, “Back off her a little bit and make her shoot it.” 2:30 left now, it’s 37-32 Sky.

One half in the books, Chicago is on top 43-40. For a few minutes, it looked like the Sky was going to pull away, but Detroit quickly narrowed the gap to keep this one interesting. Candice continues to lead the way with 12 points, while Tamera is now at nine points for the game. Meanwhile in Connecticut, the Sun and Lynx are in a close one—its 93-92 Sun with 30 seconds left in the game. C’mon Minnesota!

It’s clear what Detroit Head Coach Rick Mahorn’s primary concern is. When his team headed back to the bench to start the third, he gave every player a high five while telling them, “Defense.”

Alright Sky! A quick 8-2 run to start the half puts the Shock back on their heels, and Coach Mahorn quickly took a timeout with 8:10 to go in the third, Chicago up 51-42. One more update from Connecticut: the Sun defeated the Lynx 98-94. That’s not a problem for us; we just have to take care of business right here!

Whatever Coach Mahorn told his team in their timeout, it worked. Detroit scored seven points in a row, and the Sky lead has dropped to 51-50 with 5:09 to go in the third. Now Coach Key takes a timeout to rally his team. But right out of the timeout, Smith nails another three for Detroit—she now has 13 in the contest.

Wow, Detroit is on fire right now. Another three, this one by Shavonte Zellous, followed by another Smith jump shot and Detroit has 16 straight points to take the score to 58-51 with 1:30 to go.

Candice ends the Detroit scoring streak with a 10-foot jumper, making the score 60-53. And on the next possession, she hits another! That would’ve been huge momentum to start the fourth, but Alexis Hornbuckle nailed a three from the corner as time expired to suck all the life out of the Pavilion, it’s a 63-55 game as we head to fourth. We’ve got 10 minutes to go and eight points to make up … let’s go Sky!

Did someone put a lid on the rim? Nothing seems to be falling for Chicago right now. A 15-foot jumper by Bass went halfway down before bouncing out to a Shock defender. Chicago is going to need to persevere through this shooting slump. They have to get some scoring, and quick. Its 70-56 Detroit with 6:48 left.

Young hits a three! That’s what we needed! Hopefully we can turn that into some momentum and get back into this one! Detroit still leads 72-61 with 5:51 to go.

Down to 3:40 in this one, the Shock is still leading 73-61. I’ve got to credit the crowd here at the Pavilion tonight. Chicago has been struggling for awhile now, but they’ve been loud every chance they’ve had! It’s been a fun atmosphere for this game.

We’re coming back! Chicago cuts the lead down to seven: 74-67 now, 1:30 left. We’re still in this one!

There were 45 seconds on the clock when Chicago started this possession. The Sky got three good looks, but none of the shots fell, and I think that’s going to be the end of this game. A few late free throws add to the Detroit lead, and your final score is 76-67, Detroit taking this matchup.

Two tough home losses in a row for the Sky in the last five days, but by no means are they out of the playoff hunt. We’ve got plenty of time left to make a move in the standings!

The Sky head to the road next, taking on Los Angeles on Tuesday night. That game will be carried on ESPN2. Then the Sky will return home to the UIC Pavilion next Friday to take on the New York Liberty at 7:30pm.

Unfortunately, I will not be at that game next Friday, since this is my last Sky game of the season. It’s been a great time (and a great seat!) taking in all the WNBA action this season, and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Here’s hoping for a Sky playoff berth to end the 2009 season!

Enjoy the rest of the season fans, and, as always, Go Sky!

-Dave