Live From Press Row - Storm vs. Minnesota
Storm Continues the Momentum
Final: Storm 92, Minnesota 75
There is no better way to go into a week-long break than with a blowout win. That's exactly what the Seattle Storm got tonight, defeating the Minnesota Lynx by 17 points. Seimone Augustus made things dicey during the third quarter, when she scored 16 of her team-high 24 points (I can now celebrate on behalf of my fantasy-league team), but the fourth quarter belonged to the Storm, who put up 32 points in the final period and held Minnesota to just 14 to win going away.
Too many stars tonight. Sue Bird hands out a career-high 14 assists, the most by any WNBA player in a game this season, for her 13th career double-double. Lauren Jackson records her 41st with 25 points and 10 rebounds, shooting 9-for-10 from the field one game after sitting out because of sore shins. And Janell Burse tops the 1,000 career point mark in a big way, with 24 points and eight boards on 9-for-11 shooting. But let us not also forget the contributions of Shaunzinski Gortman, who locked up Seimone Augustus in the fourth quarter (she had just three points in the period) and contributed eight points and a couple of big buckets off Edwige Lawson-Wade feeds as the Storm started its 19-0 run.
The Storm is back here at KeyArena next Sunday to look to continue a three-game winning streak against the Indiana Fever. Get your tickets now!
What a Storm Run
Fourth Quarter: Storm 85, Minnesota 67
At the 8:28 mark of this fourth quarter, Kristen Mann nailed a 3-pointer to give Minnesota the lead, 64-62. The Lynx would not score another field goal for nearly five minutes, and the Storm went on an incredible 19-0 run the likes of which we haven't seen since Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals against Sacramento in 2004. Sue Bird has been an absolute maestro conducting the Storm orchestra, handing out a career-high 13 assists. Lauren Jackson and Janell Burse have been the beneficiaries, combining for 49 points on 18-for-21 shooting. Wowza. JB has scored her 1,000th career point tonight, and she's one away from her career high.
Johan Petro, who is having entirely too much fun tonight (he's a kid at heart) joins Doppler for The Train.
Fourth Quarter: Storm 72, Minnesota 64
Big effort by the Storm bench with Sue Bird and Betty Lennox resting. Big effort by Edwige Lawson-Wade, who has consecutive assists to Shaunzinski Gortman for layups. In between, Lawson-Wade took the ball away from Minnesota's Amber Jacobs in the backcourt. Great stuff from a player who has been called on tonight with Tanisha Wright missing the game to attend her late cousin's funeral.
The Dance Troupe and Hip-Hop squad entertain the crowd with a 7-foot assist - Sonics center Johan Petro shows off his dancing feet.
All About Augustus
End Third Quarter: Minnesota 61, Storm 60
The Seimone Augustus show aired during the third quarter after being delayed during the first half. Augustus shot 6-for-8 during the quarter for 16 points and was just dominant from midrange and in the paint. As a team, Minnesota put up 32 points and shot 11-for-15. Shaunzinski Gortman got her shot late in the period and allowed just one Augustus basket, but much of the damage had been done by that point. All momentum belongs to the Lynx.
Minnesota Makes a Run
Third Quarter: Storm 44, Minnesota 40
The third quarter has been an issue much of the season for the Storm, and that could be the case tonight. A 7-0 run by the Lynx has them within four points a little less than four minutes into this second half. Seimone Augustus has got it going a little bit, with six points in the third quarter. Her last move was awesome - a drive in transition with an awesome step into the paint. It reminded me of Julius Erving. We've talked about some things Cappie Pondexter does that we haven't seen in the women's game, but Augustus has some of those elements in her game as well.
Turnovers continue to plague the Storm. Seattle has 14 of them on the evening.
Storm Leads at the Half
Halftime: Storm 40, Minnesota 29
With a lineup of four reserves plus Barbara Turner, the Storm's offense slows down a little bit at the end of the half, but Seattle still takes an 11-point lead to the locker room. Seattle shot 56.0% in the first half to Minnesota's 28.6%. Only 11 Storm turnovers kept Minnesota in the game. The Storm starting five shot a combined 12-for-16 from the field and 11-for-11 from the free-throw line. That's nice.
Let's give the Storm credit for controlling Seimone Augustus defensively. Augustus has just five points and has been held to dismal 1-for-8 shooting from the field thus far. Barbara Turner set the tone with her early defense on Augustus and Shaunzinski Gortman has given no quarter when she has come off the bench to defend Augustus. Without their superstar scoring, the Lynx's offense has struggled.
I think the halftime spelling bee presented by Discover might have had its genesis in the Storm offices when we had a spelling bee a couple of weeks ago. Congrats to our two winners, but I might have liked to see one aspect of our bee carry over - the loser had to do the moonwalk.
Out and Running
Second Quarter: Storm 40, Minnesota 25
19-10 the Storm has outscored the Lynx during this second quarter, and the key is transition. The Storm has 10 fast-break points tonight to the Lynx's none and they've been a key to Seattle's 14-4 run. Suzie McConnell Serio takes another timeout to try to control the fast break and a KeyArena crowd that is really getting into it. Ashley Robinson will make her Storm debut after this timeout.
LJ's on Fire
Second Quarter: Storm 32, Minnesota 23
Big night so far for Lauren Jackson. In just 12 minutes of action, she's dropped 14 points on 5-for-5 shooting. Jackson has used her height and her quickness at different times. As has been mentioned on the broadcast tonight, I don't think most people realize what a great season Lauren is having this year despite her shin problems. One stat I love to use is True Shooting Percentage, which accounts for 3-pointers and free throws and looks at what a player's shooting percentage would be if they only took two-pointers (allowing comparisons to field-goal percentage). LJ this year is at a dominant 67.0%, which is incredible for someone who shoots as much as she does.
Storm Dominant Down Low
End First Quarter: Storm 21, Minnesota 15
The Storm's frontcourt has been strong all season long, and tonight is no exception. Janell Burse finished the quarter with an offensive rebound and two free throws. She and Lauren Jackson have combined for 17 of the Storm's 21 points as well as five rebounds, shooting 6-for-7 from the field. We'll see whether Vanessa Hayden and Nicole Ohlde can counter. They're paired together for the first time tonight. Hayden did not play in the first matchup against the Storm because Suzie McConnell Serio was worried about containing the Storm's transition, but she said Hayden would play tonight because she likes the matchups Hayden creates for Ohlde.
Fresh from Wednesday's NBA Draft and the selection of young 7-footer Mouhamed Sene, the Sonics have a strong presence at tonight's game. Coach Bob Hill and his family are in the front row tonight, sitting right next to last year's first-round pick, Johan Petro. Petro was at yesterday's Storm practice before working out at The Furtado Center. He had an extended chat with Storm guard Edwige Lawson-Wade, like Petro a native of France.
Swift Start for Storm
First Quarter: Storm 15, Minnesota 7
You can't start much better than the Storm has in the early going. Nine points in a little more than five minutes for Lauren Jackson, who has outscored the Lynx all by herself without missing any of her four shot attempts. The Storm is getting out and running, and the key to that has been Sue Bird. Bird has five assists on six Storm buckets. Suzie McConnell Serio wanted to contain the Storm's transition game, and she takes a timeout to remind her team of that goal.
Jackson in the Lineup
Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson was a game-time decision tonight, but she will play and start.
"The directive is to limit her activity, which meant she didn't go through shootaround," said Storm Coach Anne Donovan. "We can still play her 30 minutes a game as long as we limit her activity."
While Jackson made clear that the results of Wednesday's bone scan Jackson underwent were "not good news," it was a relief that they showed no deterioration in Jackson's troublesome left shin. There had been concern because of the pain Jackson experienced after Tuesday's win over the Sacramento Monarchs.
After tonight, the Storm gets an eight-day break, which will come in handy in helping Jackson get the rest she needs.
It's the Minnesota Lynx and the Storm tonight at KeyArena. The Lynx boast the WNBA's top rookie in first overall pick Seimone Augustus, who ranks second in the WNBA in scoring at 22.3 points per game. Minnesota was 4-4 and rolling when the Storm went into the Target Center two and a half weeks ago and defeated the Lynx 74-66. Since then, Minnesota has gone 1-5 to slip into the Western Conference cellar. Still, this is a talented team that should give the Storm a good test tonight. Stay tuned all night for the latest.