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Live From Press Row - Storm vs. Los Angeles (Game 2)

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Want to enjoy the electricity of at KeyArena even if you're thousands of miles away? stormbasketball.com's Live From Press Row 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 web@stormbasketball. Make sure to keep coming back or refreshing so you get the latest content.

Stunning Victory for Storm
Final: Storm 75, Los Angeles 74


Words can't describe the improbability of the outcome at KeyArena tonight. The Storm looked like it had a chance to force overtime, trailing by one with 10.7 seconds left as L.A. inbounded, but winning the game in regulation? Brian Agler made a brilliant decision, putting Ashley Robinson on the inbounds pass to harass Noelle Quinn and force a bad pass. Tina Thompson tried to catch it along the sidelines and juggled it. Camille Little ended up with the basketball and drove to the hoop to score the go-ahead layup - no easy shot with the defense hanging all over her - with 5.0 seconds left.

The Sparks were out of timeouts, forcing them to inbound the ball long. Tanisha Wright nearly stole it, but had a foot on the sideline when she got control of the basketball, giving possession to L.A. with 3.8 seconds left. The Sparks inbounded to Lisa Leslie, who got a pretty good look at a turnaround. It was off, and the clock ran out in the scramble for the rebound. KeyArena descended into pandemonium, celebrating the fact that the Storm will live to see a winner-take-all Game 3 Sunday right here at the Key. If you're not going to that game, well, you better have an awfully good excuse. Tickets are on sale right now!

The Storm played a great second half of basketball, holding the Sparks to 31 points in rallying from a nine-point deficit at the half. Swin Cash led the way with 18 points, but four different players scored at least 14 - Sue Bird and Tanisha Wright scored 15 apiece and Suzy Batkovic-Brown added 14 off the bench, all of them huge. I also want to make sure I highlight Wright's nine assists. That's the most she's ever had in a WNBA game. Again, what a finish. And we're just 41 hours away from Game 3 Sunday afternoon. It will be on ESPN2, but you'll want to be here in person.

I Don't Believe What I Just Saw
Final: Storm 75, Los Angeles 74


Storm wins 75-74 on Camille Little's layup with 5.0 seconds left after forcing a turnover on the inbounds pass. Wow. Wow. Wow.

Bird Keeps Storm Alive
Fourth Quarter: Los Angeles 74, Storm 73


Who else? Sue Bird knocks down a three-pointer on the inbounds pass and makes it a one-point game with 10.7 seconds left. The Storm has plenty of time to foul and should get the ball back with a chance to tie.

Bird Keeps Storm Alive
Fourth Quarter: Los Angeles 74, Storm 73


Who else? Sue Bird knocks down a three-pointer on the inbounds pass and makes it a one-point game with 10.7 seconds left. The Storm has plenty of time to foul and should get the ball back with a chance to tie.

Desperation Time
Fourth Quarter: Los Angeles 74, Storm 70


With 14.3 seconds left, it's a two-possession game after Tina Thompson knocked down a pair of free throws. The Storm has to score quickly and foul again.

L.A. Ball
Fourth Quarter: Los Angeles 72, Storm 70


Costly turnover for the Storm as Tanisha Wright had the ball get away from her on the drive. She created a tie-up, but with Lisa Leslie. Facing long odds to win the jump, Wright tried to get it early and was called for the violation. The Sparks take possession with 17.5 seconds left and the Storm will have to foul.

Sparks Lead
Fourth Quarter: Los Angeles 72, Storm 70


With 22.6 seconds left, the Storm trails by two points with possession. This game has been back and forth throughout the closing minutes, including Swin Cash tying it with a little over 50 seconds left on a transition layup. However, Lisa Leslie tipped in Candace Parker's miss to put the Sparks ahead. The Storm will probably try to go to Sue Bird, with Suzy Batkovic-Brown maybe involved. She's got 14 points tonight, following up her 16 on Wednesday.

L.A. Responds
Fourth Quarter: Storm 63, Los Angeles 60


Give the Sparks a lot of credit for showing their "veteranism" by responding to the Storm's momentum with five straight points - a Betty Lennox three-pointer and a Lisa Leslie left-hand hook (thank goodness she's retiring) to get back within one score at 63-60. Brian Agler wants to see better execution at both ends, so he took a quick timeout. As in the third quarter, this will mean an extended run of basketball. There are no more mandatory timeouts with 6:41 to play, and barring a big run both teams will want to hold on to their timeouts for the final couple of minutes. The Storm has three of them left, L.A. just two.

All Storm Right Now
Fourth Quarter: Storm 63, Los Angeles 55


If KeyArena is a'rockin, don't bother knocking. Don't bother - come on in. The bowl is on its feet right now, and why not? The Storm is on a 9-0 run dating back to the end of the third quarter. L.A. is now in the danger zone in this game, not only trialing by eight with 8:27 to play but committing a pair of costly turnovers early in the period. The Storm's energy - and the crowd's - is controlling the game right now. The Storm has scored on all three possessions of the fourth quarter, including a Swin Cash three-point play and a transition layup from Suzy Batkovic-Brown a moment ago.

Storm Leads to the Fourth
End Third Quarter: Storm 56, Los Angeles 55


At the last timeout, we talked about how it was the last mandatory break of the quarter and wondered who it might favor. Turns out it was the Storm, which extended the run and actually took the lead. The two teams were back and forth down the stretch of the period, but the Storm took the lead with 8.0 seconds left on a Camille Little layup. That's a huge bit of momentum going to the fourth quarter, and the crowd is standing throughout right now. Can the Storm take advantage of that and keep the season alive? We've got 10 minutes to find out.

During the timeout, the 2009 Stormy Award went to Ashley Robinson. Unfortunately, Robinson had her acceptance speech cut short as Little crashed the stage to declare that Sue Bird's Movie Magic was "One of the best of all time." (Any coincidence to real-life events is, of course, purely coincidental.) We'll have that video up on the site shortly and you'll want to watch it.

Storm Spurt
Third Quarter: Los Angeles 45, Storm 39


Five straight points for the Storm, and a KeyArena crowd that's been looking for something to cheer is suddenly back in the game. Michael Cooper atypically chose to take a quick timeout, trying to keep the Storm from going on a run. That's going to be our only mandatory timeout of the quarter and there are still 7:31 left in the period, so we could have an extended stretch of play. We'll see who that favors.

The Storm changed its starting lineup to start the second half, with Suzy Batkovic-Brown in the middle in place of the foul-plagued Janell Burse.

Garfield Drumline
Halftime: Los Angeles 43, Storm 34


The KeyArena crowd hasn't had a great deal to cheer about during the first half, but the Garfield High School Drumline got them on their feet with an excellent halftime performance. We'll see if that energy can carry over into the second half.

At the Half, Storm Trails
Halftime: Los Angeles 43, Storm 34


Believe it or not, the margin at halftime of this Game 2 is actually less favorable to the Storm than Game 1 on Wednesday in L.A. Then, after dominating the second quarter, the Storm trailed by just six. Tonight, it's a nine-point margin after the Sparks easily won the second period.

The issue for the Storm tonight is the defensive end of the floor. This game has been played at the Storm's pace, with just 36 possessions for each side. The Storm has turned those into 34 points, which isn't bad efficiency all things considered (granted that it has relied heavily on 5-of-6 three-point shooting). However, L.A. has put up 43 points, scoring at a rate of 126.4 points per 100 possessions. The Sparks shot 73.3 percent in the second quarter, making 11 of their 15 shots. Reserve guards Betty Lennox and Noelle Quinn combined for 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting. If the Storm can't get stops, this team without Lauren Jackson simply isn't capable of scoring enough points to get back in the game.

Storm in Danger
Second Quarter: Los Angeles 32, Storm 23


With a tick under six minutes left in the second quarter of this game, the Seattle Storm needs to get going right away lest the L.A. Sparks run away with things. The Sparks are now on a 12-2 run to extend the lead to nine points. Again, it's turnovers. Tanisha Wright had a bad pass to create a Noelle Quinn score on the secondary break. Los Angeles has been able to score at will in this quarter, shooting 75.0 percent (6-of-8).

On offense, it's paradoxical for the Storm. Brian Agler mentioned the other day that the turnovers in the first quarter in L.A. were partially about tentative play. That seems to be the case tonight. Instead of decisively going to the basket or looking for shot attempts, the Storm is hearing footsteps from the Sparks shot-blockers, overthinking things and looking passes in. That can't continue if the Storm wants to force Game 3.

Sparks the Aggressors
Second Quarter: Los Angeles 26, Storm 21


Since Shannon Johnson opened second-quarter scoring with a three-pointer, it's been all Sparks. Los Angeles has scored six straight points to take its biggest lead of the night at five points. Brian Agler takes a timeout to try to cut off the run. Turnovers have reared their ugly head again, with the Storm committing a pair of them in the first two-plus minutes of the quarter. Seattle now has six in the game.

The Storm has gone to a three-guard lineup right now with Johnson joining starters Sue Bird and Tanisha Wright on the floor. That lineup has had success for the Storm, but leaves the team very, very undersized against this huge L.A. team with 5-11 Noelle Quinn playing the point.

Sparks Lead After One
End First Quarter: Los Angeles 20, Storm 18


A strong opening quarter for the L.A. Sparks, who lead by two points 10 minutes in. The Sparks seem to be getting better shot attempts than the Storm right now. Except when the Storm is able to take the zone (or overplaying defenders) backdoor, the team is forced to attack from the perimeter. L.A. has a 10-6 advantage in terms of points in the paint and has attempted six free throws to the Storm's two. The Storm has actually had the big advantage from deep, making all three first-quarter three-point attempts.

Before the game, Betty Lennox's brother Clarence told Storm play-by-play broadcaster Dick Fain that he would be rooting for the Storm in tonight's game. He apparently wasn't joking. I saw him pointing the Storm's direction on a ball that went out of bounds and fist-pumping to celebrate a Tanisha Wright score. Presumably, Clarence is rooting for his sister now that she's in the game.

Tracking the Start
First Quarter: Los Angeles 11, Storm 10


The L.A. Sparks have to feel well about the way they've played in the first five-plus minutes of tonight's game. The Sparks have withstood the energy of the crowd to take an 11-10 lead to our first timeout. DeLisha Milton-Jones has six early points to lead the way. Still, there are some things the Storm can feel good about as well - most notably the way Sue Bird is playing. The Storm used effective screens to free Bird from Milton-Jones, a much bigger defender, for a pair of three-pointers. She's already scored more points than she had in Game 1 and looks to be in control of the offense early on.

Important Start
Pregame


Both sides seem to agree on the importance of the first 5-10 minutes of tonight's game after L.A. got to an early lead in Game 1. With the home crowd on its side, the Storm will try to do the same thing tonight. The Sparks are preaching the importance of starting well.

"(It's) very important, especially here," said L.A. Head Coach Michael Cooper. "This crowd is very excitable, and this team feeds off the crowd in terms of intensity and energy. It's going to be important for us to, as much as we can, keep the crowd out of it. They're going to have some runs, but we can't let them have some runs that they've had in the past against us."

"I think they'll come out and have great effort," countered the Storm's Brian Agler. "I think they know that we're a good basketball even though we're not at full strength, that we've had success playing without Lauren (Jackson). I think that they're going to come out hungry. From what I read, they're going to want to come out and not want to give us an opportunity, not want to give us confidence. So they're going to come out, to me, and play real aggressive."

That's something we'll be watching here early.

Signing On
Pregame


Welcome to the 2009 WNBA Playoffs at KeyArena. The Storm worked all season to earn home-court advantage, and that will now come into play. After losing Game 1 Wednesday in L.A., the Storm returns home for the last two games of this best-of-three series. The Storm is counting on a loud crowd here tonight to help power the way to victory and force a deciding Game 3 on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Sparks are hoping to finish out this series tonight. It should be a terrific game, so stay with us all night long for the latest.