Live From Press Row - Storm vs. Indiana
Storm Routs Fever on Historic Night
Final: Storm 89, Indiana 75
The Indiana Fever showed no quit and kept things from getting too lopsided in the final period, but the Storm still wins a laugher, 89-75 after leading by as many as 35 points. You're not going to find two games between the same teams much different than the Storm's 28-point loss at Indiana and tonight's game. A lot of that is about the absence of Tamika Catchings, a lot is about home-court advantage and a lot is about how well the Storm played as a team tonight in a true team effort.
Naturally, most of the attention is going to focus on Lauren Jackson, and why shouldn't it? Jackson made history by reaching the 4,000 career points mark. She didn't just pass 4,000, she crushed it, scoring 27 points when she needed 14. Jackson did not attempt a shot after the six-minute mark of the third quarter, keeping her from putting up 30 in back-to-back games or matching the record for scoring in consecutive games. Still, Jackson shot 10-for-14 from the field and recorded her fifth straight double-double and league-high 15th on the season.
The Storm put together a nice balanced effort around Jackson, with four players scoring double-figures and the team shooting an even 50% from the field.
The Storm continues this crucial homestand Sunday night against the West-leading San Antonio Silver Stars. The Storm would face the Silver Stars if the season ended today, and that has not been a favorable matchup this season. San Antonio has swept the season series 3-0. The Storm will try to change that Sunday in what should be an excellent matchup. Click here to get your tickets for that game. Besides the game, there's a lot going on. The Storm will be "Going Green," wearing road uniforms at home as part of a league-wide initiative. Also, at halftime the Storm will be hosting a Teddy Bear Toss on behalf of Warm 106.9's Teddy Bear Patrol.
Anne on 4,000
Fourth Quarter: Storm 84, Indiana 58
With this game well in hand (the Storm leads by 26 with six minutes even left on the clock), let's go to Anne Donovan's take on Lauren Jackson reaching 4,000 career points tonight.
"What's most impressive to me about the 4,000 points is hopefully in 209 games tonight," Donovan said before the game. "You're looking at 21 games faster than anybody else. That is 3/4 of the season to get that done. And the fact that she's 26, so she's still got so much basketball ahead of her. It really reflects how far Lauren is from the rest of the league right now."
Burse Gets Run
End Third Quarter: Storm 78, Indiana 48
Janell Burse ended up playing six minutes in that third quarter of play. So far tonight, she has six points and three rebounds along with a pair of blocks in 16 minutes of action. I haven't seen any ill effects of her sprained left wrist, though of course the key question is how difficult the pain is for Burse to play through. We'll know more about that after tonight's game.
The Storm has to feel good about how Wendy Palmer has played off the bench tonight. Palmer has played 15 minutes and scored 10 points (tying her season high), adding five rebounds. She has been very aggressive against the Fever's young reserve posts and it has paid off for the Storm.
Third Quarter: Storm 70, Indiana 35
Tonight has brought the most members of the 2004 Storm WNBA Championship team to KeyArena we've had here in a while - maybe since Oct. 12, 2004. You know about Storm starters Sue Bird, Betty Lennox, Lauren Jackson and Janell Burse. Indiana has two more champs in Tully Bevilaqua and Sheri Sam. Adia Barnes is up here to my left as the Storm's color analyst. Also in the house is Chelle Thompson, who watched yesterday's practice at The Furtado Center. That's eight of the 12 players on the roster.
The funny thing about Indiana-Seattle matchups is that the opposing benches have the coaches who started the other franchise back in 2000. Anne Donovan served as the Fever's interim head coach that year (ably assisted by current Storm Assistant Shelley Patterson), while Lin Dunn was the Storm's inaugural coach. Lin got a good hand before the game, as did Sam, but the biggest cheers were reserved for Bevilaqua. She remains a true fan favorite here at KeyArena.
Third Quarter: Storm 64, Indiana 33
The Storm wasn't cooled down by halftime. Seattle has poured in three early three-pointers along with a Lauren Jackson three-point play to lead now by 31 points. This is pretty unprecedented for an Indiana team that started the season 16-4. Lauren Jackson is three points shy of hitting 30-plus in consecutive games.
Women of Inspiration
Halftime: Storm 50, Indiana 27
A very special halftime tonight as the Storm honors six Women of Inspiration from the Seattle community. You can read more about the six honorees and women who have inspired the Storm's players on the page we put together for tonight.
Before the game, Storm Head Coach Anne Donovan was asked about tonight's festivities.
"This is a great night," Donovan said. "You look at this Storm team and there's so many women on our team that are inspirational in themselves. Then you look at the bigger picture and these women that we're recognizing have made impact (mostly) outside of the world of sports but in very, very significant avenues and really show how successful women can be in breaking the ceiling. It's great to have them here and I really hope that they don't get too overshadowed by Lauren's records and all that but they are significant in this night for us."
First Half Belongs to Storm
Halftime: Storm 50, Indiana 27
What more can you ask for from a half of basketball? The Storm shot 54.5% from the field, forced 13 turnovers and leads Indiana by 23 points at the midway mark. Oh yeah, and Lauren Jackson reached the 4,000-point mark with style. Jackson led the Storm with 21 points - six shy of Indiana's total - and shot 8-of-10 from the field, adding six rebounds.
Janell Burse played only a minute in the second quarter. What we don't know is if that's because of the way her wrist felt, because of the size of the lead and how well backups Wendy Palmer and Ashley Robinson played or some combination thereof.
Second Quarter: Storm 39, Indiana 25
With the Storm tying its biggest lead of 14 points, Brian Winters takes his second timeout already this period. Winters seems to have asked his team to push the tempo to try to counter the offensive woes that have plagued the Fever since All-Star forward Tamika Catchings was lost to a partially torn plantar fascia in her left foot. Indiana has shot the ball a little better, but has not defended nearly as well tonight. The Storm has put up 51.9% shooting thus far.
Another note on LJ hitting 4,000. At the office, we tried to predict this afternoon when she would reach the mark. I was confident in the Fever defense and am superstitious, so I must admit my pick was that Jackson would reach the mark late in the fourth quarter. I've never been so happy to be proven wrong. The winner was Storm ticket salesman Kyle Waters, who guessed the five-minute mark of the second quarter.
Second Quarter: Storm 34, Indiana 20
Lauren Jackson became the fifth player in WNBA history to record 4,00 career points with a fadeaway jumper off a feed from Tanisha Wright with 6:13 left to play in this second quarter. It's fitting that, with 15 early points, she appears well on her way to another big night. The KeyArena crowd knew immediately and has been on its feet cheering ever since.
During the timeout, ArenaVision features a tribute video followed by Sue Bird congratulating her teammate and best friend on the accomplishment. (Of course, Sue deserves credit for more than a few assists on those buckets.) We here at storm.wnba.com need a little time to get our LJ 4,000 page in order (didn't want to jinx things by doing too much ahead of time), but look for it later this evening on the site.
Double-Digit Storm Lead
End First Quarter: Storm 26, Indiana 16
Really strong first quarter for the Storm, which went on a 13-3 run to untie the game and open up a sizeable lead. Seattle's 26 first-quarter points ties the most against the Fever this season ... done by the Storm at Indiana earlier this season. While that game quickly went south, I don't see a lot of comparison to what was a strong all-around first quarter for the Storm tonight. Of course, Seattle can't continue on the Fever continuing to prodigiously turn the ball over (eight times in the first period).
Lauren Jackson led all scorers with nine first-quarter points and is just five away from 4,000.
Back and Forth Start
First Quarter: Storm 13, Indiana 11
Not a lot of opportunity for either team to grab momentum in the early going, as they've mostly traded baskets. Part of the reason there hasn't been a great flow has been a number of turnovers - five for Indiana, three for the Storm. Lauren Jackson is within nine points of 4,000, getting started quickly with a gorgeous three-point play in transition off the behind-the-back feed of Betty Lennox.
There's a scoreboard update right now on the 1150 AM KKNW broadcast, and the scoreboard has been great for Seattle. Los Angeles fell in Minnesota as the Lynx snapped a 10-game losing streak, dropping the Sparks to 3.5 games back of the Storm for the fourth and final Playoff spot in the East. The Storm also gained a half-game on West-leading San Antonio, which lost a stunner to Houston. Another West Playoff team, Phoenix, is losing 52-44 to Chicago at the half.
Bad News on Burse
The MRI on Janell Burse revealed that, while her left wrist is not broken, she has serious structural damage. Burse is in the lineup tonight, but her status will be monitored on a regular basis going forward.
"I really don't have anything, according to the trainers and doctor, left to tear," explained Burse. "That's pretty much why I'm playing tonight - I can't do further damage. Everything in there to tear has been torn. I'm going to try to get through the night and see what happens."
Burse practiced yesterday and definitely noticed the injury, though she was able to finish the session.
"By the end of practice, it was really painful," she said. "It was pretty sore, but the way I'm playing it's pretty much like a soft cast on it with the pad underneath and the strips that she (Athletic Trainer Kyla McDaniel) has going underneath."
We'll keep a close eye on Burse throughout tonight's game.
Our national anthem tonight: Claire Garabedian on the cello. You don't see, er, hear that every day.
It feels like ages since we've been here at KeyArena. (Why, the last time we were here, Lauren Jackson's career high was a paltry 35 points.) In my case, it has been three and a half weeks. Because I missed Kids Day on July 11, this is my first Storm home game since July 3, an incredibly long stretch. It's good to be back. It's also good for the Storm to be back after playing just one game at the Key in the last eight. Because that July 11 was the second game of a back-to-back and the Storm's last game before the All-Star break, it was essentially like an eight-game road trip from a travel perspective. Lauren Jackson talked yesterday about how her mood improved just being back in Seattle. The Storm is also happy to have this home crowd cheering every bucket. The Indiana Fever comes to the Key as one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference, so this should be a great game. Stay with us all night long as we blog all the action. Oh, and did I mention that Jackson is just 14 points away from 4,000 in her WNBA career? Stay tuned.