Live From the Press Row - Storm vs. Sacramento
Another Comeback Win for Storm
Final: Storm 74, Sacramento 62
Maybe we ought to just start these games at halftime. In the first halves of their first two games of the 2008 season, the Storm has been outscored 69-53. The second halves have seen them hold an 88-54 advantage. Tonight as on Saturday against Chicago, the Storm really clamped down on defense and began getting easy buckets on offense to turn the game around and win.
The Storm got very balanced scoring in this game, with three players scoring a team-high 17 points - Sue Bird, Swin Cash and Lauren Jackson. The Storm had 16 assists on 23 baskets, an excellent ratio. In addition to Bird's vie assists, Cash, Yolanda Griffith and Sheryl Swoopes had three apiece. Katie Gearlds also deserves to have her performance spotlighted after coming off the bench to knock down three crucial three-pointers during the Storm's fourth-quarter run. Rookie Kimberly Beck didn't make a huge dent in the boxscore, but her heady play as a second ballhandler on the floor helped out the Storm.
The task gets no easier for the Storm, which now goes on the rod for a very challenging road trip. On Thursday, the Storm will face the defending WNBA champion Phoenix Mercury. Saturday, Brian Agler returns to San Antonio for a nationally-televised matchup of two contenders in the West. Stay tuned to storm.wnba.com for complete coverage and join us again May 30 for the Storm and the Silver Stars here at the Key.
Hang-On Time for Storm
Fourth Quarter: Storm 72, Sacramento 62
Sacramento Head Coach Jenny Boucek is making full use of her timeouts, but at this point she looks to be delaying the inevitable. The Storm holds a 10-point lead with 26.2 seconds left and this is the final timeout for the Monarchs. The Storm has Sheryl Swoopes on the bench after she tweaked her ankle on defense a couple of minutes ago and had it re-taped. That's given rookie Kimberly Beck a chance to play. The heady Storm rookie knocked down to two free throws a moment ago for her first WNBA points.
Your next chance to see the Storm will come a week from Friday, when the San Antonio Silver Stars invade KeyArena. It will be Girls Night Out at the Key. Enjoy live music beginning at 6:00, massages courtesy of Bellevue Massage School for Healing Arts and hair styling and cutting provided by Obadiah Salon. There's no cover charge, so come on out and enjoy The Perfect Storm. Tickets are available now.
Hang-On Time for Storm
Fourth Quarter: Storm 61, Sacramento 54
The Sacramento Monarchs have weathered the Storm, so to speak, but they still trail by seven with 2:46 to go and Lauren Jackson headed to the foul line. If the Storm can play smart basketball and tough defense the rest of the way, the team will pull off a second straight come-from-behind victory.
It was the Fan Dance in KeyArena during the timeout, and while Dick Fain and Adia Barnes of the Storm's broadcast crew were bashful, Jim Ross and Krista Blunk from Sacramento radio got down a little with their bad selves. Speaking of the Storm broadcast, remember that you can not only listen to every game on 1150 AM KKNW but also bring your radio to games and tune in to 103.7 FM to hear the broadcast at the Key.
Storm Again on the Run
Fourth Quarter: Storm 56, Sacramento 49
How about the Comeback Kids of the Cascades? In a similar fashion to Saturday night, the Storm has rallied in the second half and controlled the game. In the fourth quarter, the Storm has a 17-4 advantage over the Monarchs, scoring more points than the team had in any of the first three quarters. Katie Gearlds has been the key. Gearlds has hit three three-pointers in the fourth quarter alone, scoring all nine of her points. As the Storm came off the court for the last timeout, Gearlds got hugs and high fives from all of her teammates but remained completely stone-faced, staying on an even keel.
Defensively, the Storm is really getting after it right now and Sacramento is getting nothing easy. Without a ton of scoring punch, that's making it hard for the Monarchs to score.
Storm Down Six to Fourth
End Third Quarter: Sacramento 45, Storm 39
The Storm got as close as three with a 9-0 run, but Sacramento answered back with five straight points. As we go to the fourth, it's a six-point deficit the storm is facing. There's plenty of time to erase that, but the Storm needs to execute on offense. I like the effort of Sue Bird tonight. She's got 12 points and she's 6-of-6 from the free-throw line - last year, Sue's season high for free throws in a game was four. She'll get a quick break at the start of this quarter with Kim Beck at the point. This is a big stretch for the Storm.
Overall, tonight looks like an early-season WNBA game. Both teams have been sloppy with turnovers and their execution, while the referees have also been a tad inconsistent. It's been tough at times, but could set us up for a great finish in the fourth.
Storm Takes Momentum to Timeout
Third Quarter: Sacramento 38, Storm 30
It's still an eight-point Sacramento lead, but the Storm goes into this timeout feeling better about things and with the KeyArena crowd beginning to get into it. The Storm has back-to-back buckets for the first time all night, getting scores in the paint from Sheryl Swoopes and Lauren Jackson. Those scores might get both of those players, who have struggled tonight, going. The Storm's defense has been good enough to keep the team in the game despite the poor shooting thus far.
On Saturday, the Storm will be on national TV again, facing the San Antonio Silver Stars at the AT&T Center on ABC. You can catch the game at a special viewing party at Sport Restaurant & Bar (140 Fourth Ave. N. Seattle) starting at 12:30 p.m. Enjoy special $3 happy hour prices on select food and beverages and cheer the team on with fellow Storm fans.
Rough First Half for Storm
Halftime: Sacramento 34, Storm 24
Not often do you see a team, WNBA or otherwise, commit 16 turnovers in the first half and hold a double-digit lead. That's what the Sacramento Monarchs managed in the first half of tonight's game. The Monarchs could not hold on to the ball, but they dominated the other key categories. Sacramento held a 25-9 advantage on the glass, including nine offensive rebounds to just four Storm defensive rebounds. Meanwhile, Sacramento also shot the ball better (41.9% vs. 29.0) and had four three-pointers while the Storm had none.
"We just weren't in sync; I think everybody saw that," Brian Agler said before tonight's game, looking back on Saturday's Opening Night. But the same could be said of this game thus far.
The Storm did find a little momentum late in the second quarter to get within 10 at the half after trailing by as many as 13. Looking to shake things up, Brian Agler went to rookies Kimberly Beck and Kelly Santos and Beck in particular offered a spark.
Monarchs Catch Fire
Second Quarter: Sacramento 29, Storm 17
It's a 9-0 run since the timeout and an 11-0 run overall for the Sacramento Monarchs, who have their biggest lead by 12 points midway through the second quarter. The Storm's offense has simply fallen apart. The team is shooting 29.2% from the field and has only one bucket in nine second-quarter possessions. It seems like the Storm is taking shortcuts at both ends of the floor, taking the first available shot on offense instead of working the ball around for a better look. On defense, they're not getting back and out to shooters, nor are they boxing out. That's why Sacramento has taken control of this game, and I'm sure Brian Agler is calling the team out on it during an animated timeout.
Give a lot of credit to Sacramento rookie Crystal Kelly. The Monarchs claimed Kelly off of waivers after she was cut by Houston before Friday's roster deadline. Kelly joined Sacramento on Sunday and is making her WNBA debut. She's played the entire second quarter and has four points, three rebounds and an assist.
Second Quarter: Sacramento 20, Storm 17
In the crowd tonight, First Husband Mike Gregoire and First Daughter Michelle are representing Washington Governor Chris Gregoire. I was neglectful in forgetting to mention Saturday that U.S. Senator Patty Murray was sitting courtside, while Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels was also in attendance. Outside of politics, Lauren Jackson's mother Maree is sitting courtside tonight between Karen Bryant and Anne Levinson.
The Storm continues to shoot itself in the foot on the defensive glass. The Monarchs have six second-chance points but have had plenty more changes after offensive rebounds.
Storm Leads After Sloppy First Quarter
End First Quarter: Storm 15, Sacramento 14
It wasn't always pretty, but after one quarter of play the Storm holds a 15-14 lead. Sacramento shot 31.3% from the field and had seven turnovers, but still had more shot attempts than the Storm because of the 13-5 advantage on the glass. The Storm got aggressive play on offense from Sue Bird, who made all three of her shot attempts and added two free throws for eight first-quarter points. That's exactly the way Brian Agler would like to see Bird look for her own shot.
While both of these teams are focused on defense, they're also trying to push the ball on offense. The Storm showed how it's done in the first quarter, using a turnover and a defensive rebound to get a couple of good runouts. Officially, they've got four fast-break points, but that doesn't count Bird's two free throws after she was fouled in transition.
During the timeout, Doppler got beaten by young Storm fan Sloan in a very competitive musical-chairs matchup.
Griffith Takes Charge
First Quarter: Sacramento 8, Storm 6
A defensive feel to this game so far, with the teams both shooting under 40% from the field in the early going. Give Yolanda Griffith credit for setting a defensive tone for the Storm. Griffith has taken a pair of charges in the first five-plus minutes, giving her four in two games this season. That helped get Nicole Powell in foul trouble. After a charge, she's on the bench with two fouls. Her partner in crime, Kara Lawson, has hit a pair of triples that account for Sacramento's lead in this game. The Monarchs have made up for it on the glass with an 8-1 rebounding advantage in the early going.
Wright to Start
Storm forward Swin Cash had her flight delayed coming back from Philadelphia yesterday following a death in the family and did not get into Seattle until this afternoon. As a result, Tanisha Wright will start on the wing alongside Sheryl Swoopes.
"We prepared with Tanisha and Swin got in here this afternoon. She'll be in; she'll play in the first quarter, but we've been preparing with Tanisha, so that's the way we'll go."
The Storm is back at KeyArena tonight for the first WNBA Tuesday of the young season. The national ESPN2 broadcast means a special 7:30 start time and a lot of people around the league tuning in to see the Storm and the Sacramento Monarchs in action. With Yolanda Griffith signing with the Storm as a free agent over the off-season, there are plenty of ties between these two teams. Griffith is facing her old team for the first time in the regular season and Sacramento Head Coach Jenny Boucek spent three years as an assistant in Seattle, helping the Storm to the 2004 WNBA Championship. These teams have staged some great battles in the past and tonight figures to be another one. Stay with us all night long for the latest.