Live from Press Row - Storm vs. Atlanta
Storm Knocks Off Dream
Final: Storm 90, Atlanta 72
Another impressive win tonight for the Storm, which not only handed the Atlanta Dream its first loss of 2010 but did so in lopsided fashion. The Storm led by as many as 24 points en route to an 18-point win. We might not have gotten the Dream's best effort tonight, since Atlanta was finishing up a difficult four-game road trip and dealt with early foul trouble. Still, the Storm's defense was outstanding, holding the Dream to 35.6 percent shooting. The Storm shot a cool 55.2 percent itself, including 53.8 percent (7-of-13) from beyond the arc.
Lauren Jackson was the hot hand, scoring a season-high 32 points on 10-of-19 shooting, including five makes in eight three attempts. Jackson also pulled down 10 rebounds for her third double-double of the season. Camille Little scored 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting, doing a great job of finding open spaces on the floor and finishing at the rim. Swin Cash added 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting and eight boards, and Sue Bird and Svetlana Abrosimova scored nine apiece, Bird adding six assists and four steals to her tally.
The Storm will put what is now tied for the WNBA's best record on the line Saturday, facing the Los Angeles Sparks outdoors in the Sunset Showdown at Home Depot Tennis Center in L.A. That game will be televised on NBA TV and also available on LiveAccess here at stormbasketball.com as well as broadcast on 1150 AM KKNW. Sunday night, the Storm returns home for another early-season showdown against the defending WNBA champion Phoenix Mercury. The two teams already played an overtime classic down in Phoenix, so we'll see what they have in store for us on Sunday. Get your tickets now if you haven't already!
Storm Opens up the Bench
Fourth Quarter: Storm 84, Atlanta 65
At our final media timeout with just under three minutes left to play, the Storm has things well under control with a 19-point lead. That's allowed Storm Head Coach Brian Agler to go to his bench. Abby Bishop is seeing her first action in a game at KeyArena. Fellow newcomer Jana Veselá also scored the first points of her WNBA career from the free throw line. On the other side, the Dream has twin sisters Coco Miller and Kelly Miller on the floor together. Moments ago, Miller assisted Miller, which may be a first in WNBA history.
LJ in Control
Fourth Quarter: Storm 73, Atlanta 55
Whatever color you want to call Lauren Jackson's hair, it's clear that she's playing some pretty good basketball since dying it. Jackson had 27 points Sunday in San Antonio and has followed that up with a huge effort tonight - a season-high 32 points on 10-of-19 shooting, including five makes from beyond the arc, as well as 10 rebounds for her third double-double of the year. Atlanta has no answer and the Storm is in control right now, leading the previously undefeated Dream by 18 with 6:35 left on the clock.
All this makes me wonder - have you voted for Jackson and the Storm's other starters for The Stars at the Sun yet today? Remember, you can vote daily online.
Storm Opens Up Lead
End Third Quarter: Storm 61, Atlanta 48
Another strong finish to a quarter for the Storm, which outscored Atlanta 10-4 over the final 2:10 of the third period to take a 13-point lead to the final quarter of play. Believe it or not, it's the first time all year the Storm has led after three periods at home. The key was Lauren Jackson, who dropped in back-to-back three-pointers to give herself 26 points. Sue Bird finished the quarter in style with a gorgeous drive, splitting two defenders on the pick-and-roll and heading right to the baskest for a layup high off the glass.
During the quarter break, the Carter Subaru Free Throw Frenzy helped plant some trees in the Mountains to Sound Greenway along I-90. Carter, our presenting sponsor for Go Green Night, is already planting a tree for every three-pointer the Storm makes this season (five so far tonight) as part of the 3's for Trees program, but also added an extra one for every free throw made by our two contestants during the break.
Back and Forth
Third Quarter: Storm 51, Atlanta 41
After a first half that was frankly quite sloppy, we're seeing the kind of action we anticipated during the third quarter. The Storm scored on six consecutive possessions until the last one, but did little to increase the lead because Atlanta also had six scores in that same span. The Storm's offense is running much more smoothly, with Camille Little playing a key role. She's got 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting, finishing around the rim. Atlanta is hitting from the perimeter more than in the first half.
As we've mentioned, tonight is Go Green Night. Seattle Goodwill is here, collecting book donations in exchange for a coupon for 30% off an item of your choice at a Goodwill store. July 30 and Aug. 19 will also be book collection nights. Fans can also recycle mobile phones and accessories with T-Mobile at the game (also June 25, July 25, and Aug. 7). T-Mobile also gave out 2,500 T-shirts to Storm fans in the arena. For more on the Storm's other Go Green partners, check out the press release preceding tonight's game.
Storm Finishes Half Strong
Halftime: Storm 39, Atlanta 27
Atlanta tying the game seemed to get the Storm going after a lull early in the second quarter. The Storm finished the half with a 17-5 run, including nine consecutive points before the teams went into the locker rooms. The Storm's defensive effort on the league's second-best offensive team has been fantastic. Atlanta is shooting just 29.3 percent from the field, has turned the ball over 11 times and hasn't made a single free throw in just three attempts. The Storm even closed down the offensive glass after a slow start, holding Atlanta to a 33.3 percent offensive rebound percentage. The Storm has held Dream wings Angel McCoughtry and Iziane Castro Marques to combined 5-of-21 shooting, and posts Erika de Souza and Sancho Lyttle were never really part of the game after getting in early foul trouble.
At the other end of the floor, the Storm was very accurate with its shooting when not turning the ball over. Seattle had 12 miscues, but shot 14-of-27 from the field (51.9 percent), knocked down three shots from downtown and had 10 assists on 14 shots. Lauren Jackson led the way, scoring 18 points on 14 shooting possessions.
Little, Wright Kickstart Storm
Second Quarter: Storm 28, Atlanta 22
The Dream had tied the game on a 10-2 run early in the second quarter, but the Storm has answered by scoring the last six points. Camille Little had consecutive layups, playing tough in the post, followed by Tanisha Wright finding Lauren Jackson for another finish at the rim. The Storm continues to struggle primarily with turnovers - 11 of them in all, one shy of the team's average and just three away from the Storm's season high. Angel McCoughtry is creating some issues with her pressure, as she often does, but the Storm has also been called for several traveling violations and simply had a tough time holding on to the basketball. Wright is doing a good job running the offense with Sue Bird playing off the ball, and she has just one of the Storm's miscues.
LJ's Hair Color Change
Second Quarter: Storm 20, Atlanta 13
It's the hot topic of discussion among Storm fans, including the broadcast team during this past timeout: Just what color is Lauren Jackson's hair after she dyed it over the weekend? Orange, red and strawberry blonde have all been suggested as possibilities. Myself, I'm more inclined to go with bronze. Now, I'm not saying if you hold up Svetlana Abrosimova's medal from the 2008 Olympics it would quite match Jckson's hair, but I think that's the best I can come up with. If you're not watching on ESPN2, we'll have some photos that show Jackson's new look on the site tomorrow.
Foul Trouble Benefits Storm
End First Quarter: Storm 17, Atlanta 9
Great first quarter for the Storm, which held Atlanta to 18.2 percent shooting (four makes in 22 attempts). The nine points the Dream scored are far and away a low for the team in first quarter. The Storm had more success on the defensive glass after Erika de Souza and Sancho Lyttle both picked up two fouls and headed to the bench, forcing Marynell Meadors to go to her backup frontcourt of Alison Bales and Yelena Leuchanka earlier than usual.
Doppler had some fun during the timeout, using some silly string to celebrate the birthday of Mike Monroe, the Storm's vice president of finance and administration. Happy birthday, Mike!
Storm Defense Controls Early
First Quarter: Storm 10, Atlanta 4
Storm play-by-play broadcaster Dick Fain wondered on the air whether nerves might be a factor in the way this game started. Both teams have been prone to turnovers, with the Storm coughing it up three times in the first minute and four times overall. Atlanta has six miscues and has also shot 2-of-13 from the field. The Storm's individual defense has been very stout, forcing five Angel McCoughtry misses in as many attempts.
The issue, as we'll see all night, is rebounding those misses. The Storm is a very good defensive rebounding team. Atlanta is historically good on the offensive glass and already has five offensive boards to four defensive rebounds for the Storm.
Storm Head Coach Brian Agler believes in maintaining a consistent level of focus on the next game on the schedule, so it was no surprise he was unwilling to make a lot of the fact that tonight's game pairs the leaders in the Eastern and Western Conferences. His Atlanta counterpart, Marynell Meadors, sees a little more significance in the game.
"It kind of gives us a measuring stick on where we are and it does the same for them," Meadors said before the game. "They definitely have more experience being in these situations than we do. We're going to go out there and give it our best shot and hopefully it's going to be good enough."
Agler did have plenty of praise for the Dream, the league's last unbeaten team at 6-0.
"When I look at the teams around the league," he said. "I look at Atlanta and I don't know that there's a lot of teams that are going to be at them consistently the way they're playing right now. ... They are an extremely talented team."
Where Agler hesitated a little more was putting the Storm in that class.
"There's no question Atlanta's one of the top teams in the league," he said. "I think we can be. We're not as good as we need to be yet. I know we're not as consistent. What we're looking for is longer stretches of quality defense throughout the game. That's what our identity is and that's sort of what we're built around. We need to make that came into play."
Welcome back to KeyArena, where the Storm is home for the first time in a week after a 1-1 road trip highlighted by a 28-point victory in San Antonio. Tonight, the Atlanta Dream invade the Key on Go Green Night presented by Carter Subaru. The Storm is wearing its green road uniforms with the Dream in white as we highlight efforts by the Storm and our partners to work toward sustainability. It should also be a great game on the court, so stay with us all night long for details and analysis.