Live From Press Row - Storm vs. San Antonio
Satisfying Victory for Storm
Final: Storm 70, San Antonio 50
There is no such thing as a bad win in the WNBA, not with a 34-game season, but some of them bring some extra with them. I'd say this one belongs in that category. The Storm needed to beat the San Antonio Silver Stars for the sake of the team's collective psyche. This was much more than a victory; it was domination from start to finish. San Antonio was never within 10 points after Lauren Jackson put the Storm up 10-0 less than three minutes into the game. It was the kind of performance Brian Agler had been waiting to see - the Storm putting together a 40-minut effort along the lines of the way the team has played in its second-half comebacks early in the season.
The Silver Stars were completely discombobulated on offense. San Antonio shot 27.6% from the field and was 3-of-20 from downtown. Those numbers are both dramatically different from what the Silver Stars did at the AT&T Center a week ago tomorrow. The Storm managed to shut down Becky Hammon, who finished with three points and without a field goal, but did not sacrifice open looks to the San Antonio role players. Ann Wauters and Sophia Young got their points, but only three Silver Stars (Erin Buescher was the other) scored more than five points.
Meanwhile, the Storm was getting terrific balanced contributions led by Lauren Jackson. The awesome Aussie had 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting and served notice from the start of the game that she was going to be a force to be reckoned with. Sue Bird (10 assists) and Yolanda Griffith (10 rebounds) contributed where they were needed, Swin Cash was her usual yeomanlike worker on offense and Tanisha Wright came off the bench to score double-figures.
Tune in tomorrow when the L.A. Sparks play the Washington Mystics on ABC. At halftime, the first nine core members of the U.S. Olympic team will be announced. Then tomorrow, it's back at it here at KeyArena against the Houston Comets. I hope you'll join us if you have the opportunity.
Storm Completes Texas Two-Step on Sunday
Fourth Quarter: Storm 70, San Antonio 50
With a win over the San Antonio Silver Stars well within reach, the Storm will go for a sweep of the Texas teams on Sunday when the Houston Comets visit KeyArena. It will be the first matchup for Sheryl Swoopes against her old team, so it should be a lot of fun. Tickets are still available for Sunday - gets yours now!
Storm Has This One Well in Hand
Fourth Quarter: Storm 70, San Antonio 45
Oh, it's all working for the Seattle Storm right now. A 6-0 run has given them their biggest lead of the evening at 25 points. Sue Bird handed out back-to-back assists, giving her 10 on the evening. She's the first WNBA player with double-figures assists this season. Meanwhile, her counterpart, Becky Hammon, has been blanketed all night long. Hammon was scoreless through the first three quarters and has missed all six of her shot attempts. Hammon has gotten on the scoreboard with some free throws here in this final period, but overall a very un-Hammon performance.
The frustration on the faces of the Silver Stars is evident. Dan Hughes had to take a 20-second timeout a moment ago because he had already used up his full timeouts during the third period.
20-Point Lead to the Fourth
End Third Quarter: Storm 60, San Antonio 40
Shay was the winner of the Dance Off starring Doppler during the quarter break, showing off some nice old-school moves. Plenty to dance about as the Storm has a 20-point lead heading to the final period, having led by as many as 24 during the third quarter.
Lauren Jackson finished the quarter with a bucket and has 26 points on 9-of-15 shooting in her best offensive performance of the young season. Jackson is the only Storm player in double-figures, but that doesn't mean she's been the only contributor. Everyone has been coming up with big plays at both ends. Let me single out Yolanda Griffith, who has a season-high 10 rebounds in 16 minutes of actions. Also, Tanisha Wright was very productive off the benc in the third quarter. She's got eight points on 4-of-6 shooting.
Storm's Timing Impeccable
Third Quarter: Storm 51, San Antonio 32
Every time the San Antonio Silver Stars threaten to make a comeback, the Seattle Storm has had the answer. A Swin Cash putback and a Tanisha Wright runner have given the Storm a 19-point lead with 3:20 left in the third quarter. If the Silver Stars are going to legitimately feel like they can win this game, they'll need a run to close this quarter.
Storm Building Lead
Third Quarter: Storm 47, San Antonio 29
The Storm needed to come out after halftime with a strong start to perish any San Antonio thought of a comeback. It looked like that might not be the case when Vickie Johnson opened the second half with a three-pointer, but the Storm has outscored San Antonio 8-3 since then to push the lead back to 18 points.
Dan Hughes senses trouble for his team. He takes a timeout looking to make a push. Agler has four starters on the floor with a thin team that has only nine players dressed tonight with Ruth Riley's ankle injury.
Ready for More
Halftime: Storm 39, San Antonio 23
After a halftime musical performance by Sue Quigley, we're ready to go for the second half. We'll see if the Storm can keep it up and run the Silver Stars out of here.
Storm Takes Big Lead to the Break
Halftime: Storm 39, San Antonio 23
Consider Storm Head Coach Brian Agler something of a prophet. OK, that's strong, but earlier this week Agler was talking about his team's poor first halves.
"We were down 15 or 16 at Phoenix and closed that to six points in a matter of two or three minutes," he said. "That's a good sign. What we need to try to find out is how we can play that way in the beginning of the game and, instead of being down 15 or 16 at halftime, be up that much and go from there."
Well, that's just what he got. The Storm leads by 16 at the break, having shot 48.5% from the field and held San Antonio to 25.0% shooting. Lauren Jackson (18) and Sheryl Swoopes (9) have combined to outscore the Silver Stars. Everything seems to have started at the defensive end of the floor, where the Storm has been very active. They've been in the passing lanes and had active hands all night long and have made San Antonio work hard for almost everything.
No one knows better than the Storm that comebacks are possible in this league, but you can't start much better than the Storm has tonight.
Silver Stars Make a Run
Second Quarter: Storm 37, San Antonio 21
You knew the San Antonio Silver Stars were too good to stay down forever, right? It's a 9-0 run for San Antonio right now that has allowed the Stars to close within 16 points with a little over a minute left in the first half. Brian Agler takes another timeout to try to stem the tide.
Second Quarter: Storm 37, San Antonio 16
Great atmosphere here tonight for the Storm's third game of the season and Girls Night Out. Fans are enjoying the terrific play by the Storm. Amongst the crowd is King County Executive Ron Sims and wife Cayan, sitting courtside. Brian Agler, however, is always the coach. Unhappy with a poor boxout that allowed Vickie Johnson a layup, Agler took a timeout a moment ago.
The one plus for the San Antonio Silver Stars so far tonight has been the performance of new center Ann Wauters. She has three of the team's five field goals and has worked the two-player game well with Becky Hammon. Wauters has yet to miss from the field; her teammates are a combined 2-of-26.
Second Quarter: Storm 31, San Antonio 10
Earlier this week, I made a point of asking Storm Head Coach Brian Agler where he thought Sheryl Swoopes was four games into the season.
"I think Sheryl's probably 75% to where I think she will be," he said. "I think she's working at that. I do think when you play consecutive games, like we have, we haven't had a lot of chance to get extra time in. This week we've gotten extra time in. Now we're going to go through another series of games where we won't get extra time in. Then it starts getting spaced out a little bit more. I think that's where she's going to really make leaps and bounds in her progress."
We've seen some great defense from Swoopes and excellent passing, but what she hasn't added is the shooting - until tonight. In this second quarter, we've seen vintage Swoopes on offense. She nailed a three-pointer coming off of a screen at the top of the key, then took Vickie Johnson in the post and put her in the spin cycle, rolling a turnaround around the rim and in. Swoopes has seen points tonight.
Storm Dominates First Quarter
End First Quarter: Storm 22, San Antonio 7
Wow, what a terrific first quarter for the Storm. We almost saw something I can't ever imagine having seen before - a team go the entire first quarter without a field goal. The Silver Stars did not get a field goal until 31.8 seconds remained in the period, missing their first 15 (!) shot attempts. Through one quarter, San Antonio is shooting 6.3% from the field. That is not a typo.
Meanwhile, Lauren Jackson continues to be unstoppable. She's got 16 of the Storm's 22 points. The only downside in the first quarter was some surprisingly poor passing. The Storm turned it over on five of its last six possessions and had seven turnovers in the quarter. That's too many for a team shooting 57.1% from the field. Still, hard to quibble with the results.
LJ 10, Silver Stars 0
First Quarter: Storm 10, San Antonio 0
So much for slow starts. The Storm, sick and tired of answering that question, has come out with terrific energy at both ends of the floor. The Storm has been rotating very well defensively to contest every San Antonio shot and force a couple of turnovers. On the other end, it's all Lauren Jackson. Jackson scored a three-point play right off the opening tip, has another three-point play and has scored 10 points on 3-of-3 shooting, 4-of-4 from the line. I know the Storm wanted to get Jackson more involved early, and that's precisely what has happened. The Storm has done a great job of looking for Jackson and she has been aggressive.
I remember that in July 2004, Jackson scored the game's first 11 points against Sacramento. We'll see if she can match or beat that tonight.
While tonight's game completes a home-and-home set between the Storm and Silver Stars, there has been five days in between and neither team has had a game. That's given them a chance to practice and work on their execution. Asked how well the week had gone, Storm Head Coach Brian Agler joked he would know at about 10:00 tonight.
The focus was primarily on improving execution, but the Storm did spend some time preparing for San Antonio.
"We obviously spent yesterday and today in preparation," said Agler. "I think this early in the year and how we've just sort of been together as a unit here for going on two weeks, I think the most important thing is for us to focus on ourselves and getting better, so the majority of last week was doing that. We understand how good San Antonio is. They need a lot of attention in terms of their preparation, but at this point we spent the majority of the week trying to get ourselves better."
Welcome back to KeyArena, where he Storm returns to action after five days off. Their opponent, just as last Saturday, is the San Antonio Silver Stars. The Silver Stars won that game, their sixth straight head-to-head victory over the Storm - a streak the home fans would love to see come to an end tonight. It will be a slightly different look for the Silver Stars tonight, as Ruth Riley will not play because of a sprained ankle. The very capable Ann Wauters will step in for Riley in the middle. Around the arena, it's Girls Night Out and long lines were forming on the concourse at last check for massages from Bellevue Massage School Center for Healing Arts and hair styling courtesy of Obadiah Salon.