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Storm Tracker (July 21-27)

WEEKLY LEADERS
POINTS
Jackson – 25.3
Bird - 12.3
Vodichkova – 11.0
Lassiter – 7.7
Brondello - 6.3
REBOUNDS
Jackson - 9.3
Vodichkova - 8.0
Bird - 5.0
Edwards - 3.0
Lassiter - 3.0
ASSISTS
Bird - 6.3
Brondello - 3.3
Jackson - 2.3

July 21-27
Record for the week: 2-1
Overall Record: 13-10
Standing: tie 3rd, Western Conference

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

New York 23 42 65
at Storm 38 37 75
The Storm returned home for a Wednesday-afternoon matinee against the defending Eastern Conference Champion New York Liberty. With the stands filled with youngsters taking in the game as part of day camps, the Storm had all the home-court advantage it needed. Seattle got a boost from forward Amanda Lassiter, starting her second home game at small forward. Lassiter was on fire from three-point range in the first half, making all four of her attempts and beating her career high with 16 points by intermission. Behind the play of Lassiter and center Kamila Vodichkova, who had 11 in the first half, the Storm led by as many as 20 in the first half. In the second half, Lauren Jackson finished the Liberty with a monster effort. Jackson’s first-half had been plagued by foul trouble, but she came out of halftime firing with eight points in a little over five minutes. The Liberty got within eight points at one point, but Jackson kept them from getting any closer in the 75-65 win, finishing with 22 points in the second half alone and 27 for the game. Vodichkova added her first double-double of the season, 14 points and 10 rebounds. Vickie Johnson led New York with 17 points.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Phoenix 29 24 53
at Storm 43 39 82
Though the Mercury came to Seattle as the WNBA’s worst team at 3-17 and in the midst of a six-game losing streak, the Storm still had reason to worry after playing a pair of close games against Phoenix in the month of June, including a 61-60 win in Phoenix. The Storm ensured there would be no such tension and drama in the rematch early, with the Mercury never holding the lead and the Storm sprinting out to a 10-0 run behind five points from Sandy Brondello, previously mired in a 1-for-16 shooting slump. Things would get little better for the Mercury in a sloppy game that saw the Storm commit a season-high 20 turnovers. After getting the lead to nine, Phoenix was held scoreless for nearly seven minutes. The bad news for the home team was that it barely extended its lead, leading only by 14 when the Mercury scored again. But the Storm finished the half strong and took a 14-point lead to the break despite a three-pointer from Tamicha Jackson, who led the Mercury with 13 points. Again, Jackson led the charge out of halftime, scoring nine of the Storm’s points in an 11-4 run to start the second half and push the lead to 21 points. The Storm did not let up, even after Jackson was pulled for good at the 7:13 mark with 26 points, 17 of them in the second half. Seattle continued building the lead all the way to a 29-point final margin, 82-53, the team’s second-largest win of the season. Sue Bird, with 17 on 7-of-8 shooting, was the only other Storm player in double figures as the team got balanced scoring from its complementary players.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Storm 29 34 63
at Sacramento 46 30 76
The Storm’s third back-to-back of the season took it to Sacramento 24 hours after beating Phoenix. The Monarchs came in having won four of their last five games, riding the momentum of the change to Interim Coach John Whisenant just before the All-Star break, and the Storm was powerless to stop Sacramento’s run. The Monarchs dominated the first half, with a 17-2 run midway through the period producing a commanding 35-13 lead with just less than eight minutes to play in the first half. The Storm, as has been its tradition, did not give up. Jackson’s two buckets to start the second half portended another strong finish for her, but this time she could not carry the team. Seattle got no closer than 11 as the two teams traded baskets much of the second half, and Sacramento finished off a 76-63 victory that is its second over the Storm at ARCO Arena this season. Jackson still had a brilliant game, finishing with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Bird had 13 points, but was harassed into seven turnovers – just off her season high of eight, which also came against Sacramento. While the Storm did a good job of bottling up Sacramento’s frontcourt of Yolanda Griffith and Tangela Smith, who finished with 10 points apiece, small forward DeMya Walker led five Monarchs players in double-figures with 21 points. Ticha Penicheiro dished out 10 assists.

Player of the Week

F Lauren Jackson
25.3 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.7 bpg, 58.3% field goals, 50.0% threes, 89.5% free throws

For the second time this season, Jackson’s efforts last week earned her the WNBA’s Player of the Week Award, making Jackson and rival Lisa Leslie of the Los Angeles Sparks the only repeat winners of the award so far this season. Jackson’s consistency is becoming legendary as she continues to extend her remarkable scoring streaks – 42 straight games in double-figures, 22 (every one this season) with 15 or more and now six straight games with 20 points or more to push her scoring average to 21.0 points per game, second in the WNBA behind Washington’s Chamique Holdsclaw, who has played in just 17 games because of injuries. Jackson shot 50% or better from the field in all three games, including a 10-for-15 effort against an overmatched Phoenix front line that saw two players foul out. Jackson did it from the outside, hitting half of her threes, and the inside, making 10 of 11 free-throw attempts against New York. Jackson did it on the glass, collecting consecutive double-doubles – her first in the month of July – against Phoenix and Sacramento to close out the week. Jackson’s second-half play has been fairly well documented, and she averaged 17.3 points per second half last week – a mark which would rank seventh in the WNBA for game averages this season.

Weekly Happenings


Jackson was the WNBA's Player of the Week.
Rocky Widner/WNBAE/Getty
Home Sweet Home
The Storm’s return home last week came following a stretch when it played just two home games in four and a half weeks, against seven road contests (and two three-game trips). The Storm has seven home games amongst its remaining 11, and that’s good news because Seattle has been dominant at KeyArena, going 8-2. The Storm hasn’t, for the most part, squeaked by – it’s dominated. The Storm has a point differential of +13.8 ppg at home so far this season. Six of the eight victories have been by double-digits, including routs of 27, 29 and 40. In its last five home games – all wins, a team record for longest home winning streak – the Storm has won by an average of 19.4 points per game. The Storm will benefit from the home/road split of its remaining schedule, and could really help itself by sneaking ahead of the Houston Comets, currently a game ahead, and the Minnesota Lynx, which holds the tiebreaker and is currently tied with the Storm, for home-court advantage in the playoffs.

LJ Gaining Momentum
As Jackson’s numbers grow more and more impressive, it is becoming difficult for her to be ignored as a legitimate candidate for WNBA MVP. Jackson ranks in the WNBA’s top ten in scoring average (second), rebounding (seventh) and blocked shots (fifth) and has done so on a team fighting for playoff positioning. With the league’s leading scorer, Holdsclaw, having battled injuries on a last-place team and its third-leading scorer, Katie Smith, not as multi-dimensional as Jackson, she has an excellent shot at MVP this season if she and the Storm continue at their current pace. ESPN.com’s Nancy Lieberman has taken note, writing a column this week advocating Jackson for MVP. Lieberman concludes, “In a season where Leslie is struggling to return from injury and Holdsclaw's Mystics are struggling just to win 10 games, Jackson's efforts -- and Seattle's 13-10 record and playoff aspirations -- just might be enough to win the MVP.” Watch STORM.WNBA.COM for coverage of Jackson’s MVP candidacy as the season winds down.

Transactions
Post Alisa Burras returned to action last week, activated in time for the Storm’s return home while forward Danielle McCulley returned to the injured list with tendinitis in her right shoulder after seeing action in two games. Burras had a strong effort against Phoenix, scoring six points and grabbing six rebounds in just 12 minutes, and is still looking to get untracked this season. Meanwhile, forward Mactabene Amachree’s second seven-day contract expired over the weekend. Amachree played seven games for the Storm, averaging 1.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game. The Storm will replace Amachree with forward LaTonya (or just Tonya) Massaline (nee Washington). A four-year WNBA veteran, all with the Washington Mystics, Massaline was released earlier this month after playing five minutes in Seattle against the Storm on July 3. A 35.6% career shooter from three-point range who posted a career-high 15 points earlier this season against Connecticut, Massaline is expected to improve the Storm’s perimeter shooting attack off the bench.

The Week Ahead

Thu, July 31 Charlotte Sting 7:00 p.m. KeyArena (tickets) 950 KJR AM
Sat, Aug. 2 Minnesota Lynx 5:00 p.m. Target Center 950 KJR AM

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