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Oakwood Live From Press Row - Storm vs. Minnesota

The Storm enjoys a home-court advantage at KeyArena unparalleled in the WNBA. Even if you don't live in Seattle, you can enjoy the electricity of the KeyArena experience thanks to storm.wnba.com's Oakwood Live From Press Row. All night and all season long, Kevin Pelton will be bringing you pregame quotes from coaches and players and observations from the game as it unfolds - on and off the court. Make sure to keep coming back
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Tough Loss
Score: Minnesota 86, Storm 81


The Storm played 44 good minutes of basketball, but minute 45 tripped them up. Seattle turned the ball over on its last four possessions while Katie Smith scored seven of her 21 points in overtime (outscoring the Storm 7-4) to give her team the win. Of course, it wasn't just Sue Bird but also Janell Burse the Storm was missing down the stretch, and only Lauren Jackson (26 points) and Iziane Castro Marques (19, nine rebounds), both of whom were brilliant, scored double-figures for Seattle. This is a tough one, but the Storm will learn from it and get ready to return to KeyArena next week for a much-anticipated rematch with the Connecticut Sun.

Minnesota in Control
Score: Minnesota 85, Storm 81


Great steal by Katie Smith, who has come up huge in this overtime period. She's fouled and hits both to make it 85-81 with 17.9 seconds left. Tanisha Wright comes hard the other way but dribbles off her foot for just her second turnover of the game. You can't help but think theoutcome would be different if Sue Bird was in the lineup.

Chance to Tie
Score: Minnesota 83, Storm 81


Great defensive play by Tamika Williams to get between a pass from Iziane Castro Marques to Lauren Jackson and give Minnesota possession with a chance to go up two scores. But Nicole Ohlde is called for a questionable offensive foul with 34.4 seconds left to play to give the Storm possession back. Seattle needs a good possession here.

Can't Hold Me Down
Score: Minnesota 83, Storm 81


Katie Smith may be 5-for-18 from the field, but she's 2-for-2 in OT. Her second score has given Minnesota an 83-81 lead with 1:03 left. The Storm has been going to Betty Lennox with mixed results.

Burse Out
Score: Minnesota 79, Storm 79


A while back, I wondered why Janell Burse wasn't in the game. As usual, I'm a dolt. I forgot Burse left the game after taking a shot to the head in the second half. She has a headache and a possible concussion and will not return. Simone Edwards is now in to give Suzy Batkovic a break.

Overtime
Score: Minnesota 77, Storm 77


The Storm gets the ball to Lauren Jackson for the last shot of regulation. She gets a decent look at a banker, but it bounces too hard and we're headed to overtime tied at 77. It's the first OT of the season for both teams.

Chance to Win
Score: Minnesota 77, Storm 77


Katie Smith holds before running a pick-and-roll and getting to the lane. As they have all night, the Storm collapsed well on Smith (shooting 3-for-16) and she kicked out to Kristi Harrower, who attempted an NBA 3 for the second straight possession. And, for the second straight possession, it caught nothing but air. The Storm takes possession with 2.6 seconds left with OT a worst-case scenario.

Who Cares?
Score: Minnesota 77, Storm 77


Betty Lennox isn't having an evening to remember - she's got just six points - but who cares right now? Lennox's leaner with 24.1 seconds left has tied the game at 77. Then some confusion, as the clock ran when it shouldn't have and the referees stopped play. Minnesota wanted a timeout, but the refs initially told them they couldn't have one before reversing the call. We are now in a timeout and Minnesota will have the ball. Look for the Lynx to get the ball to Katie Smith. Both of these teams have some close-game experience. The Storm won by two Sunday in Charlotte, of course while the Lynx lost a game when Nicole Ohlde's winning layup against Sacramento a couple weeks back was ruled to have come after the buzzer.

Missing Sue
Score: Minnesota 77, Storm 75


Tanisha Wright has played a fantastic 28 minutes, handing out a career-high five assists, but the Storm sure could have used Sue Bird on that last possession, as Wright tried to make a pass that wasn't there to Suzy Batkovic and Stacey Lovelace came up with the steal. But the Storm held defensively, forcing a shot-clock violation to get the ball back still down only two with 28.4 seconds left. The Storm needs to execute there. The KeyArena crowd - a sizeable one, at that - is on its feet.

Great Game
Score: Minnesota 77, Storm 75


The fans at KeyArena might not necessarily agree with me - they're busy venting at the refs - but I've thought this has been an absolutely fantastic game thus far. The Storm used an 8-0 run to go up 75-71 with 2:01 to play (Iziane Castro Marques, who has career highs in points, rebound and assists, scored consecutive buckets), but the Lyn answered with two free throws by Kristi Harrower and a Stacey Lovelace 3-pointer. The Storm has not read the scouting report on Lovelace and has given her a couple of open looks. It's now 77-75 with the Storm having possession with 1:11 to play. This is a critical possession, and boy would it be nice to have Sue Bird at the point right now.

Runny
Score: Minnesota 70, Storm 67


More than the other games this season, I don't feel like I've had enough time to discuss what's going on in this game because so much is happening. Basketball is by its nature a game of runs, but tonight has been extra "runny". At times, the Storm has looked like WNBA Champs; at times, they've looked downright awful. Unfortunately, the last few minutes have been more of the latter. The Storm has only one field goal in the last six and a half minutes and has scored only five points, allowing Minnesota to take a 70-67 lead. That's not a huge issue in and of itself with Sue Bird on the sidelines, but the Storm's composure has not been where it needs to be, with Seattle distracted by the refereeing and reacting poorly. Betty Lennox has really struggled, committing four turnovers and shooting 2-for-6. Suzy Batkovic (1-for-6) has also struggled and I'm surprised she's in down the stretch instead of Janell Burse.

Vanessa Hayden has to leave the game after being poked in the eye and, unable to shoot free throws her night is done. Anne Donovan chose rookie Kristen Mann, who had not played all night, to shoot the free throws. Mann comes threw and makes 'em both and will stay in the game.

A Little Chippy
Score: Storm 62, Minnesota 59


The things I notice thanks to working the visiting broadcast: The Minnesota coaching staff is very unhappy with the way this game is being called right now, with Suzie McConnell Serio chirping at the referees. They probably have some right to complain. The Storm has only nine turnovers on the night, which is very good. Four of those are by Lauren Jackson, which you don't really worry about. I think she's going to be okay as a player. Francesca Zara has committed only one turnover in 17 minutes, which is outstanding. It should be noted that Minnesota hasn't put on a lot of pressure. Anne Donovan said before the game that Charlotte and Washington learned from Detroit's mistake in not putting more pressure on the Storm's guards in the Seattle blowout win that was their first game without Bird. Apparently Minnesota did not.

Birdy Band-Aids
Score: Storm 62, Minnesota 59


Presumably, you remember the "I Love Sue" Band-Aids that were sported at Keyarena during last year's playoffs after Bird broke her nose. Well, with Bird breaking her nose again, the Band-Aids are back. I spotted the industrious Cub Scout responsible for last year's Band-Aids selling them on the plaza outside of KeyArena before the game and there are a couple of fans courtside showing their support.

Key Rocking
Score: Storm 56, Minnesota 50


The KeyArena crowd is largely on its feet for this timeout as Minnesota's Suzie McConnell Serio tries to stem the tide. Seattle with a 7-0 run to take its largest lead of the game at 56-50. The forwards have been the key. Not only does Iziane Castro Marques have a career-high 14 points, including six in this half, she's shut down Katie Smith (eight points on 2-for-7 shooting). Lauren Jackson, after hitting a 3-pointer to put her to 5-for-7 shooting, has 15 points to lead all scorers. Castro Marques also drew a fourth foul on Svetlana Abrosimova, who is on the bench but leads the Lynx with 14 points.

Foul Trouble
Score: Storm 49, Minnesota 48


I said a minute ago that the Lynx were staying in the game at the free-throw line, and I wasn't kidding. Minnesota is 6-for-7 at the line in the second half and 14-for-15 for the game. Meanwhile, the Storm only has four free throw makes and attempts, all by Lauren Jackson. All those fouls mean some foul trouble; Betty Lennox has four fouls for the Storm and has been replaced by Tanisha Wright, while Suzy Batkovic picked up three fouls in just two minutes in the first half.

Storm Run
Score: Storm 49, Minnesota 46


On Sunday in Charlotte, the Storm made up a halftime deficit in a hurry by starting the second half hot. They're doing the same thing tonight, scoring on the first seven possessions of the second half to take a three-point lead. Lauren Jackson, as in Charlotte, will not be denied. Minnesota is staying in this game at the free-throw line.

Halftime Stats
Score: Minnesota 38, Storm 35


Interesting to note that this has been a very slow-paced game during the first half - only 65 total possessions. A typical half is in the low- to mid-70s. That's partially because of Minnesota's offensive rebounds, but both teams are also being very patient thus far. The slow pace means that both teams have been more efficient on offense than you would realize from the 38-35 score. Minnesota's offensive efficiency was 115.2, the Storm's 109.4.

Halftime
Score: Minnesota 38, Storm 35


After two Nicole Ohlde free throws, the Storm takes a timeout with 6.9 seconds left. Nice aggressive drive by Tanisha Wright, but her floater in the lane catches the front rim and the Lynx will take a 38-35 lead to the locker room. Intriguingly, the Storm is actually outshooting Minnesota (48.4% to 40.6%) and has fewer turnovers (five to seven, which is a great sign for the Storm), but the Lynx have an 8-4 advantage at the free-throw line, have four 3-pointers to Seattle's one and have outrebounded the Storm 16-12. Offensive rebounds are a good place for the Storm to stat improving; Minnesota has seven of them and has rebounded almost half of their own misses. Great balance for both teams, as no player in this game has double-digits as of yet. Nicole Ohlde leads all scorers with nine points.

BHA Night
Score: Minnesota 38, Storm 35


Tonight is Breast Health Awareness Night at KeyArena, and I see a lot of pink in the standings in support of breast cancer survivors. None is more conspicuous than Storm Coach Anne Donovan, decked out from head to toe in pink. Minnesota Coach Suzie McConnell Serio is also sporting a pink blouse, but it was an accident - she had no idea tonight was BHA Night. As for your humble blogger - alas, no pink, but I do have the ribbon on in support. Players are also wearing special warmup t-shirts with a BHA message.

Strong Finish?
Score: Minnesota 36, Storm 35


Four straight points for the Storm here in the last two minutes, including a nice turnaround score in the post by Simone Edwards, to pull within one point at 36-35 with 21.3 seconds left in the half. Minnesota takes a full timeout after getting two second chances (okay, a second and third chance) at the last possession of the half. The Storm won't likely lead going into the locker room, but to trail by only one after starting poorly would be a good note.

Stuff Happening
Score: Minnesota 36, Storm 31


The margin is the same as it was at the last timeout, but that doesn't mean there isn't some interesting stuff going on out there. Janell Burse playing very well for the Storm (six points, three blocks), as is Iziane Castro Marques (eight points, three rebounds). Tanisha Wright is 2-for-6 from the field, but has had a couple of layups bounce out and also has a career-high three assists already. The Storm is controlling the turnovers very well, with just five so far. Katie Smith is 2-for-5 from the field but does have a couple of 3s and eight points. After Smith hit a cold-blooded 3 in Alicia Thompson's face, Anne Donovan quickly got Castro Marques back in the game. 13 points for the Lynx frontcourt of Nicole Ohlde and Tamika Williams.

Hayden Struggles
Score: Minnesota 26, Storm 21


Some modest runs for the Storm: 5-0 and 11-5. Minnesota's hot offense has struggled lately, committing four turnovers in the last six minutes. That period, not coincidentally, came when Kristi Harrower was off the floor and Vanessa Hayden on it. Hayden's out now and Harrower, despite limping off, back on the court. The Storm needs to pay more attention to Svetlana Abrosimova, who has eight points.

Storm Comeback
Score: Minnesota 21, Storm 14


It's a story of point guards right now. Tanisha Wright has done great for the Storm, scoring two baskets and handing out an assist since coming in to help Seattle get scoring. Meanwhile, the Lynx has missed Kristi Harrower since she hobbled off the floor at the 13:41 mark. Amber Jacobs has committed a turnover and a couple of fouls thus far as the Storm has a modest 4-0 run before the under-12 timeout. I don't see Harrower on the bench; it appears she's gone to the locker room.

Hot Lynx
Score: Minnesota 16, Storm 6


If Storm Coach Anne Donovan wasn't really pleased with her team's defense during the 2-2 road trip, she really can't be pleased with the first five minutes of this game. Minnesota has been on fire, with all five starters scoring. The Lynx has particularly benefited from second-chance points, scoring 10 of them already, including a pair of 3-pointers off offensive rebounds. Donovan replaces Francesca Zara with Tanisha Wright.

Williams Starts
Score: Pregame


Vanessa Hayden is replaced in the starting lineup tonight by Tamika Williams, which is hardly a big loss for Minnesota; Williams was a very capable starter the last three seasons and has played well thus far this year. Suzie McConnell Serio, who had a very lengthy pregame chat with David Locke, Elise Woodward and me, explained that it was tough bringing Hayden off the bench because she can't play extremely long stretches. So McConnell Serio ended up leaving her in for only a few minutes per half. As a starter, she could play four of those stretches.

Sue Bird is in attendance tonight in street clothes, looking good despite the cast across her nose and the black eye under her right eye.

Only Fan
Score: Pregame


Funny little pregame note when Katie Smith walked out to warm up for the game, Storm play-by-play broadcaster David Locke gave her a little joking round of applause. "I'm glad somebody's going to cheer for me in Seattle," Smith responded without missing a beat.

Signing On
Score: Pregame


A little bit of a change for tonight, as instead of doing stats for David Locke and Elise Woodward and the KJR 950 AM broadcast, I'm working the Minnesota Lynx's broadcast with the wonderful Brian Sieman (who seems just slightly baffled by the fact that his statistician is also blogging the game and will be composing postgame notes). To focus on matters on the court, Sue Bird will indeed sit out her fourth consecutive game as she awaits a good fit on the facemask she'll wear for the foreseeable future. For Minnesota, Vanessa Hayden will suit up but not start because of the right ankle she sprained on Saturday.