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Live From Press Row - Storm vs. Connecticut

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Want to enjoy the electricity of at KeyArena even if you're thousands of miles away? storm.wnba.com's Live From the Press Box in-game blog is your best bet. All night and all season long, Kevin Pelton will be bringing you pregame quotes, analysis and observations from the game. E-mail Kevin at stormconnection@sonics-storm.com. Make sure to keep coming back or refreshing so you get the latest content.

Storm Beaten at Home
Final: Connecticut 74, Storm 67


The Storm's unbeaten home streak comes to an end tonight at KeyArena, with the team falling for the first time in seven games. What's frustrating is that, like the two Storm losses on the road over the weekend, this was one the team could have had. The Storm led inside the final minute but Lindsay Whalen made a brilliant play to find Asjha Jones open under the hoop for the go-ahead score. The Storm executed on the other end and Lauren Jackson had a terrific look at a three that would have been a dagger. The team's execution didn't really falter until the very last seconds. That's why it's tough to make a living trying to win close games. The breaks aren't always going to go your way.

The Storm will be looking back on a couple of other things. One of them is defensive rebounding. Connecticut had 14 offensive boards but also several deflections that went back to the Sun that don't count in the box score as offensive boards. The other is bench production. With Tanisha Wright stepping into the starting lineup, the Storm got just five points from the bench. The good news is that Katie Gearlds' three might have got her going.

The Storm will take tomorrow completely off and will practice Wednesday and Thursday before coming back out here on Friday night to host another top Eastern Conference squad, the Indiana Fever. Indiana has started 5-4 even with Tamika Catchings missing the season's first eight games while recovering from last year's Achilles injury. Get your tickets for that game now!

Storm Down Three
Fourth Quarter: Connecticut 70, Storm 67


The Sun answered Lauren Jackson free throws with an Asjha Jones score. A tough call on a loose ball after LJ missed a good look at a three gave the Sun back the ball and the Storm had to foul Lindsay Whalen, who knocked down two free throws. The Storm is now down three with 27.8 seconds left. That's plenty of time, but this 20 is the team's final timeout.

BT Express Derails Storm Lead
Fourth Quarter: Connecticut 66, Storm 65


The Storm took the lead for the first time in this fourth quarter when Sheryl Swoopes followed LJ's two free throws by intercepting a pass and streaking the other direction for an uncontested layup. The Storm got a stop and had a chance to extend the lead, but Connecticut bore down defensively and forced Swin Cash into a desperation attempt that barely beat the buzzer. On the other end, Lindsay Whalen drove through the paint and Barbara Turner snuck behind the defense to get wide open in the left wing. She buried the three-pointer cleanly to give the Sun the lead. All four of Turner's scores tonight have come on three-pointers. What improvement she has made.

Storm has a chance to reclaim the lead with a little over a minute left after a timeout.

To Crunch Time
Fourth Quarter: Connecticut 63, Storm 61


With 2:39 to play, this remains a very close game. The Storm trails by two, but again has a player headed to the free-throw line with a chance to tie. This time it's Lauren Jackson. The Storm needs to be sure to get Jackson touches on the post. The Sun hasn't been double-teaming Jackson and good things have happened when she's gotten the ball.

The Storm has been rotating very well on defense, holding Connecticut to 36.6 percent shooting, but the offensive rebounds - 14 in all - remain the big problem. It takes a defensive rebound to finish a stop.

Momentum: Storm
Fourth Quarter: Connecticut 59, Storm 57


As the kids out at KeyArena invade the floor for the Doppler Train, Storm fans have something to cheer about. Their team is on a 7-2 run to pull within two with 5:21 to play with Sheryl Swoopes headed to the free-throw line after this timeout. The bench went down seven, but then Katie Gearlds hit a three she had to have for the sake of her confidence and that sparked the run. Gearlds then drove the lane and set up Lauren Jackson after three Storm starters got back in the game.

Four starters are in now alongside Shyra Ely. Connecticut has its starting five save Amber Holt, replaced by Barbara Turner. This should be a great finish.

Sun Seizes Control
End Third Quarter: Connecticut 55, Storm 50


The Sun finished the third quarter with a 7-0 run, scoring on the last five possessions on the quarter to take a five-point lead to the final period of play. Connecticut has really been at its best with reserves Barbara Turner (10 points on 3-of-6 shooting) and Sandrine Gruda (eight points on 4-of-5) in there with the starters. That's where Mike Thibault hurt his team by playing the two distinct lines in the first quarter and a half.

Sun Seizes Control
End Third Quarter: Connecticut 55, Storm 50


The Sun finished the third quarter with a 7-0 run, scoring on the last five possessions on the quarter to take a five-point lead to the final period of play. Connecticut has really been at its best with reserves Barbara Turner (10 points on 3-of-6 shooting) and Sandrine Gruda (eight points on 4-of-5) in there with the starters. That's where Mike Thibault hurt his team by playing the two distinct lines in the first quarter and a half.

The Storm still has yet to get a bench point and better get one in. Four reserves, including Florina Pascalau, are in there with Tanisha Wright, who usually comes off the bench. Big stretch to start the fourth quarter.

Back and Forth We Go
Third Quarter: Connecticut 42, Storm 41


A couple of lead changes already in the first half of the third quarter as the two teams trade runs. Lauren Jackson has been trying to put her stamp on the game lately, grabbing three second-half rebounds and knocking down a deep three-pointer. She's got 15 points to lead all scorers. No Connecticut player has scored double-figures thus far.

Ashley Robinson was the first reserve into the game for the Storm here in the second half. Not sure if she's feeling better or Brian Agler simply wanted to switch up the matchups. Shyra Ely has given the Storm some good minutes and Katie Gearlds had a pair of big free throws, but the Storm bench has yet to score tonight. Meanwhile, Connecticut's reserves have combined for 17 points.

Sun Takes Lead to Locker Room
Halftime: Connecticut 37, Storm 36


The Seattle Storm led for about 19 and a half minutes of this first half. However, it's the Connecticut Sun that will take the lead to the break, untying the game with 0.5 seconds left on the clock when Lindsay Whalen drew Sue Bird's fourth foul and split two free throws. Whalen finished with seven points and five boards in the first half, but her foul-drawing might have been the most important aspect of her game so far.

The Storm outshot Connecticut from the field 46.9 percent to 39.5 percent in the first half, but the Sun's nine offensive rebounds did a great deal to close that gap. Additionally, after doing a great job of taking care of the basketball in the first quarter (two turnovers), the Storm got sloppy in the second (six turnovers).

Halftime brings a long-time KeyArena favorite - Kirkland-based Hot Dog USA.

Foul Trouble Affecting Storm
Second Quarter: Storm 32, Connecticut 31


The Storm's starting backcourt tonight of Sue Bird and Tanisha Wright is both saddled with three fouls shortly before halftime. That's gotten Kimberly Beck into the lineup for a little run here. With Griffith out and Ashley Robinson presumably not available, Brian Agler is really limited in his options right now.

The second-chance points have allowed Connecticut to briefly take the lead. Right now, it's a tenuous one-point Storm lead. Lindsay Whalen is starting to make her presence felt on this game. She's got two points and five rebounds, though she does not have an assist yet tonight.

Second-Chance Points Problematic
Second Quarter: Storm 26, Connecticut 19


Another putback score for the Connecticut Sun prompts Brian Agler to take a timeout. So far tonight, Connecticut has eight second-chance points out of just 19 total points. That's something the Storm will need to address. After giving his bench a nice long run out there together, Mike Thibault has his starters back in to start the second quarter.

Even with Yolanda Griffith sidelined tonight, we have yet to see Ashley Robinson tonight. That is probably because of a sore right Achilles which has bothered Robinson.

"That's sort of a roller-coaster-type thing," said Brian Agler before tonight's game. "Some days she feels better than others."

Birdy Balling
End First Quarter: Storm 24, Connecticut 15


The Storm might have let up a little on the defensive end with Connecticut's bench in the game, allowing Tamika Raymond to get loose on the offensive glass for four boards which led to several second-chance points. The Sun scored on five straight possessions at one point before the Storm got three stops to close the quarter.

However, the Sun never made up too much ground because the Storm's offense was very potent. A big reason for that was Sue Bird, who scored nine first-quarter points and handed out a pair of assists. The Storm is shooting 10-of-19 from the field so far and has just two turnovers. The team has been very sharp.

Power on for Storm
First Quarter: Storm 13, Connecticut 6


After the slight delay, the Storm came out ready to go. Connecticut scored the game's first two points, but then went over four points without a score. The Storm went on an 11-0 run, prompting an unhappy Sun Head Coach Mike Thibault to make a line change, subbing in five reserves in favor of his five starters. The bench has brought some energy, scoring back-to-back buckets, but the Storm still leads by seven points.

Five turnovers so far for Connecticut, and three of those have been Storm steals that have turned into runouts at the other end. Tanisha Wright has really brought a lot of energy to the floor and Storm double-teams harassed Asjha Jones and Tamika Whitmore.

Slight Delay
Pregame


Some technical difficulties knocked out the sound system here at KeyArena, causing a brief delay. We're ready to go now, but having eschewed the introduction of the Storm's players. Connecticut's players had just been announced when the sound went out. It's back now, but Storm fans were ready to make enough noise to cover the unusual silence.

No Yo for Storm
Pregame


The Storm will be without Yolanda Griffith for the second straight game. Griffith, who had sprained her foot in practice last week, suffered what Brian Agler termed "sort of a sprain of a knee" Friday in San Antonio. After having an X-ray and MRI done in Houston, Griffith made a doctor visit today. She remains day-to-day. Agler hopes to have her back in practice later this week and thinks Griffith might be able to play Friday, when the Storm hosts Indiana.

Tanisha Wright will step in for Griffith in the starting lineup as the Storm goes with a smaller unit that should match up well with a Connecticut team that starts 6-2 Asjha Jones and 6-2 Tamika Whitmore in the frontcourt. The Storm will have another option up front tonight, as Kelly Santos hustled back to Seattle after helping Brazil qualify for the Olympics during the FIBA Olympics Qualifying Tournament yesterday. Santos is dressed and active.

Signing On
Pregame


Welcome to KeyArena, where the Seattle Storm squares off with the WNBA's top team, the Connecticut Sun. At 8-2, Connecticut is off to a terrific start. However, the Seattle Storm has been unbeatable here at the Key this season, starting out 6-0. Storm Head Coach Brian Agler has a lot of respect for the Sun, saying before tonight's game that Connecticut is "probably playing as well as any team in the league right now." It should be a great matchup, so stay with us all night long for the latest.