Oakwood Live From Press Row - Storm vs. Houston
Storm Wins Going Away
Posted at 9:40 p.m.
There's an old saying that goes, "We didn't lose, we just ran out of time." Well, the Houston Comets can't say that tonight. If this game had been longer than 40 minutes, it might have gotten ugly, as well as the Storm played during the second half of this game. After trailing by 14 at the half, Seattle outscored Houston by an incredible 53-29 count during the second half of this game. That's despite nine second-half turnovers (though none in the final seven and a half minutes), the Storm was ultra-efficient by shooting 18-for-24 from the field after halftime. If you're scoring at home, that's 75.0% shooting. Think the Storm has found a groove on offense?
So many people to spotlight individually … the "Bet-ty! Bet-ty!" chant can be heard behind me after the Storm's high-scoring shooting guard scored 18 of her 24 points in the second half, shooting 10-for-18 from the field. Lennox gives that love right back, telling David Locke, "The fans won that half." Lauren Jackson answered criticism about her conditioning with 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting and 12 rebounds despite tight zone defense. Iziane Castro Marques stepped up big with 12 points, Janell Burse had 14 big points in the paint and Sue Bird, the only starter not to score double-figures, had seven assists along with her nine points.
Van Chancellor talked about wanting to hold the rest o the Storm's roster besides the big three of Jackson, Bird and Lennox to 25 points - while the bench had only three points, Burse and Castro Marques took care of that number all by themselves. Rookies Tanisha Wright and Francesca Zara also got their first WNBA points with late free throws.
Defensively, while Houston shot 52.7% from the field, Sheryl Swoopes was limited to 16 points on 7-for-16 shooting thanks largely to the great work of Castro Marques.
It's a feel-good win, and the Storm will look for another one Sunday when the San Antonio Silver Stars come to town. Check out the Storm tickets page from the navigation above for tickets.
Storm Leads Down the Stretch
Posted at 9:20 p.m.
How quickly this game turned. Trailing by five out of that last timeout, the Storm got a Lauren Jackson layup, an Iziane Castro Marques 3-pointer, a Betty Lennox 3-pointer and then two free throws in transition from Sue Bird to go up 61-56. After Michelle Snow answered with a two, the Storm got a Betty Lennox runner and Castro Marques was just fouled by Sheryl Swoopes shooting a 3 and will go to the line for three shots after the last media timeout of the game. The Storm leads it 63-58 with 3:52 to play.
Posted at 9:10 p.m.
Sue Bird's first visit to the bench at the 10:35 mark of this game helped trigger a run of turnovers for the Storm. Seattle turned it over on all three possessions with Bird on the bench, then twice more in the last couple of minutes, giving them 19 for the game. The Seattle franchise record is 23 against the Sacramento Monarchs on Aug. 9, 2000, and the Storm only had 20 or more turnovers four times last season. Despite giving the ball up, the Storm's 11-for-16 shooting in the second half has kept Seattle in the game. It's 56-51 Comets with 7:23 to play and this game is very winnable.
Lost and Found
Posted at 9:00 p.m.
The Storm has found the offense that has been lost for the first three halves of this seson during the second half, scoring on 10 of 14 possessions through this timeout with 11:41 left in the game. That's allowed Seattle to take a lead of 47-46, outscoring Houston 21-6 during the second half. The interior has been the key, with Janell Burse now with 13 points and Lauren Jackson with 12 points and nine rebounds
The new Storm hip-hop Dance Troupe keeps the Key rocking during the timeout. Ashley Battle will come in to make her WNBA debut after this timeout.
Posted at 8:48 p.m.
Coming out to start this second half strong was critical for the Storm and so far, so good. Janell Burse has a layup and Lauren Jackson one of her own and the Storm two offensive rebounds thus far, while Houston has not scored on either of its two possessions. That's gotten the Storm back within 10 points, 40-30. Van Chancellor takes a timeout less than two minutes into the half.
Posted at 8:40 p.m.
One thing we'll try to look at during halftime is Efficiency Ratings - points per 100 possessions - for both teams to see whether it's an offensive or defensive game without the effect of pace. Houston was at an Offensive Rating of 114.2 in the first half, the Storm just 72.2. That's not very good offense for the Storm, though better than their performance in the opener. Houston is playing very well on offense and is above their stellar Offensive Rating so far this season.
Posted at 8:30 p.m.
The Storm was hoping to go into the locker room with some momentum after a Lauren Jackson layup with 12.5 seconds left in the first half, but Houston comes back with a Dominique Canty feed to Michelle Snow for a layup with 3.5 seconds left. That makes it 40-26 Houston at the midway point, as the Comets continue to play outstanding basketball. Snow with eight points at the half, as does Canty, and six for Arcain - the Houston starting five has combined for 36 points thus far.
The good news for the Storm late in the half was Lauren Jackson getting a couple of scores down low, something she had yet to get this season. Also standing out in the first half was Iziane Castro Marques. While Sheryl Swoopes had 10 points in the first half, Swoopes only shot 2-for-6 and got four of those points against Castro Marques.
Storm Offense Still Struggling
Posted at 8:20 p.m.
The good news is that working against Houston's zone, the Storm hasn't lived (or, more accurately, died) by the 3-pointer tonight, attempting only four. But the offensive execution has still been uneven, with nine first-half turnovers and with the Storm shooting only 36% from the field after hitting five of their first seven shots. Janell Burse has taken six shots to Lauren Jackson's one and is 2-for-6 from the field. Anne Donovan, like the rest of us, can't believe Jackson has only gotten one shot, as Dick Fain relays on the KJR broadcast after listening in to the huddle.
Getting Izzy With It
Posted at 8:15 p.m.
After a very strong opener against the Sparks, Iziane Castro Marques is doing some nice things in her first Storm start and the second of her WNBA career tonight. In addition to an early 3-pointer, Castro Marques just got three the old-fashioned way by driving the lane on an offensive rebound and banking in a shot off glass while drawing the foul. The free throw gave Izzy six points on the evening as well as two fouls, and she just drew a charge on idol and Brazilian National Teammate Janeth Arcain. Houston leads it 28-22 with 4:57 left in the first half.
In the Zone
Posted at 8:07 p.m.
Both teams are showing some zone defense right now in an attempt to slow down the other squad. Houston isn't normally a zone team, but Anne Donovan said before the game she expected to see some zone because of how poorly the Storm played against L.A.'s zone in their opener. She also said, "I hope we see a 2-3 zone," because she believes her team can beat it, but that hasn't been the case tonight. Iziane Castro Marques had a key 3-pointer, but the outside shot is still not falling and Lauren Jackson is again a non-factor on the inside.
It's everyone against Doppler in Dodgeball in this timeout as several kids try to hit the Storm's furry mascot.
Posted at 8:00 p.m.
Houston has come back from an early Storm lead to take a 22-14 as we near the midway point of the first half on the back of MVP Sheryl Swoopes. Swoopes has eight points on 4-for-6 shooting, all of her points coming in the last five and a half minutes. Swoopes has gone to work against rookie Tanisha Wright since Wright entered the game at the last timeout, scoring six points without missing a shot. It's a rude introduction to the WNBA for Wright, who also has two turnovers.
Posted at 7:53 p.m.
After a one-year Olympics hiatus, the WNBA All-Star Game is back this year and will be played in Connecticut on July 9. Voting for starting lineups begins tomorrow and Sunday will be the first Storm game where fans can vote for the five Storm players on the ballot - guards Sue Bird and Betty Lennox, forwards Lauren Jackson and Alicia Thompson and center Suzy Batkovic. In something I think is a slight change from years past, each team has all five "starters" - before training camp - on the ballot. Well, except San Antonio. The Silver Stars representative in the middle is Adrian Williams - who was cut last Friday. Oh well.
Focus on Swoopes
Posted at 7:38 p.m.
When you're the WNBA's leading scorer, as Houston's Sheryl Swoopes is early at 26.5 points per game, you can expect to be a focal point for opponents defensively. That will be the case for Swoopes with the Storm.
"Swoopes is just a different player this year," said Anne Donovan before the game. "Obviously she's feeling healthier. I think Arcain coming back has really freed her up offensively - teams can't just zone in on her this year. Obviously, she's got new life. She's got a mission with Tina Thompson out and is playing some of the best basketball I've seen her play in a while."
Iziane Castro Marques gets the first call as the Storm's starting small forward, but she will not be alone as the Storm uses several different defenders on Swoopes. Included in that group will be Lauren Jackson. While Jackson starts at her natural power forward tonight, she will get some minutes at the three against Swoopes.
Posted at 7:30 p.m.
Live here from courtside at KeyArena and preparing for tonight's game against the Houston Comets. I'll be pulling double duty tonight, not only blogging but also helping out with the KJR broadcast. We're looking forward to a terrific game as the Storm looks to bounce back from Saturday's season-opening loss to the Los Angeles Sparks. With Sheryl Swoopes playing outstanding basketball, the Comets are 2-0 on the young season. The Storm is hoping they won't remain undefeated in a couple more hours.