Live from Press Row - Storm vs. Tulsa
Storm Keeps Streaking
Final: Storm 72, Tulsa 52
Tonight was consecutive win number 11 for the Seattle Storm, as well as the 11th in as many games for the team at KeyArena. As opposed to the last three road games, all of which were decided in the fourth quarter or overtime, this time the Storm took care of business early and was able to rest starters. The scrappy Tulsa Shock led in the second quarter and kept things close through halftime, but a 14-0 run to start the third quarter essentially ended the drama.
Svetlana Abrosimova is doing the postgame interview with 1150 AM KKNW and fittingly so. Her shooting off the bench sparked the Storm, and Abrosimova finished with 15 points and five three-pointers, tying her season high. Lauren Jackson had 16 points and nine rebounds in 24 minutes of action, and Swin Cash had 10 points and five boards on the nights fans received her bobblehead likeness. The Storm held Tulsa to 36.4 percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers. The Shock had just one player (reserve Shanna Crossley) score double-figures.
The Storm is back here at the Key Tuesday to host the defending WNBA champion Phoenix Mercury in a game that will be nationally televised on ESPN2. Of course, we hope you'll be here for that game to see one of the most entertaining matchups in the league. Get your tickets now!
Getting Some Work
Fourth Quarter: Storm 72, Tulsa 52
The Storm's lead has allowed Brian Agler to pull his starters early and get the team's younger reserves some work. That's especially help for rookies Alison Lacey and Abby Bishop, both of whom need court time at this point in their development. We had a good conversation with Brian Agler the other day about Lacey's confidence. Agler shared what I think a lot of us have suspected - that Lacey really needs to see a three-pointer go through the hoop, which would lift a weight of her shoulders. She's 0-of-10 from beyond the arc this season but was a lights-out shooter at Iowa State and is at practices as well. Like a lot of rookies, Lacey appears to think too much on the floor because she's not yet comfortable reacting. But every bit of playing time she gets the rest of the way will help that process.
Looking at the crowd, a couple of notable local hoopsters are here. Tre Simmons, who starred at Washington and now played overseas, is sitting courtside. Gonzaga product Vivian Frieson, a Seattle native who was actually drafted by the Shock before being waived during training camp, is also here and visited with some of the Phoenix Mercury players.
Fourth Quarter: Storm 67, Tulsa 45
Last year, the Storm celebrated its 10th Anniversary season. This year, fan site StormFans.org, which opened during the Storm's second year, is celebrating a decade of existence. Before tonight's game, StormFans.org founders Scott and Angie Engelhardt held a party on the KeyArena concourse and recognized an All-Decade Team of StormFans message board posters. This 2005 article talks about the history of StormFans.org and what it has meant to the community of Storm fans.
Storm Takes the Third Quarter
End Third Quarter: Storm 63, Tulsa 43
In the end, the Storm doubled up Tulsa 23-11 in the third quarter, pushing the lead to 20 points. The Storm had just one turnover in the third quarter while forcing the Shock into seven and holding Tulsa to 33.3 percent shooting. That would have been even worse if not for Shanna Crossley, who scored nine of the Shock's 11 points in the period, knocking down three triples. On the Storm side, Lauren Jackson had seven points and Svetlana Abrosimova hit her fifth three of the night - tying her season high from June 27 at Tulsa.
Third Quarter: Storm 56, Tulsa 38
Quick timeout for Brian Agler after Shanna Crossley opens the Shock's second-half scoring with back-to-back three-pointers. Agler will surely remind his team the scouting report says not to give Crossley any looks at the basket.
Speaking of scouting, several players and the coaching staff from the Phoenix Mercury is in the house tonight, sitting behind the Tulsa bench. The Mercury flew in from Minnesota today in advance of Tuesday's matchup with the Storm at KeyArena and decided to take in the game. That's especially timely because Phoenix just traded Nicole Ohlde - who has played well - to the Shock. Former Tulsa player Kara Braxton, sent to the Mercury in the deal, is one of the players in the crowd.
Also, Phoenix Director of Basketball Operations Bridget Pettis was getting her groove on at halftime during the Zumba demonstration. I saw a camera, so that footage may end up on the Mercury's website.
Storm Blowing the Game Open
Third Quarter: Storm 54, Tulsa 32
Well, the third quarter continues to be a major issue for the Tulsa Shock. The Storm has opened up the second half with 14 consecutive points, holding the Shock scoreless for over five and a half minutes to open up a 22-point lead. The Storm is getting a lot of easy buckets on offense, while at the other end Tulsa was lacking in shooting and ballhandling after starting a big lineup with posts Chante Black and Nicole Ohlde and Tiffany Jackson moving out to small forward.
The Shock will mix things up after this timeout with Marion Jones checking in for the first time tonight. Alexis Hornbuckle, returning from a lengthy absence due to a sprained ankle, is also in the game.
Halftime: Storm 40, Tulsa 32
For halftime, more than 150 local Zumba dancers took to the floor to show off the dance/fitness program. They were joined by Doppler and the Assistant to Doppler, who showed off some moves of their own. The halftime was fitting on Go Red Night as the Storm encourages female fans to take steps to improve their heart health. Check out more on the season-long Go Red with the Seattle Storm program.
Storm Takes Command in Second Quarter
Halftime: Storm 40, Tulsa 32
After trailing by as many as five points, the Storm got things back under control in the last six minutes of the second quarter, taking the lead and getting the crowd fired up. At the half, it's an eight-point Storm lead. We'll see if the team can increase the advantage during the third quarter, which has been a bugaboo for the Shock lately.
Led by Abrosimova's shooting, the Storm hit an even 50 percent from three-point range (7-of-14). Swin Cash led the starters with eight points and five rebounds. The Storm also had 11 assists on 14 first-half buckets, including four apiece from Sue Bird and Tanisha Wright. The biggest thing the Storm culd use to clean up is giving up seven offensive rebounds to Tulsa in the second quarter.
Abrosimova Finds the Range
Second Quarter: Storm 30, Tulsa 26
The way to beat the Shock this season has been from long distance. Tulsa is allowing opponents to shoot a league-worst 40.1 percent from three-point range. Svetlana Abrosimova has taken advantage. She had five triples on June 27 at Tulsa, and in this quarter she's been on fire from the corners, making four three-pointers in as many attempts. Her last two, on consecutive possessions, have given the Storm a four-point lead and drawn a Nolan Richardson timeout. He'll have to adjust his matchup zone, which is conceding those looks when the Storm moves the basketball.
A couple of special guests at courtside with Anne Levinson from Force 10 Hoops L.L.C., the Storm's ownership group. She's flanked by both the current governor of Washington, Christine Gregoire, and former Governor Booth Gardner.
Shock Feeling Good
Second Quarter: Tulsa 25, Storm 24
Sitting on the baseline next to the opposing bench much of this season, it's been impossible not to notice the attitudes of the players on the bench. I'm not sure I've seen a more energetic group yet than the Shock. Tulsa players burst off the bench after a Shanna Crossley three-pointer gave the team its largest lead of the night at five points. Overall, the Shock is very excited about the way the team has played against the WNBA's best team thus far, and with good reason.
Last week Nolan Richardson theorized that his team might play better on the road, and we may be seeing that tonight.
"You get away from everything, you don't have to hear and read things, and you're just to yourself - you're with your team," said Agler. "I think in general people play better at home, but I think in some cases when teams are going through tough times, it's best to get away. You gain confidence that way."
Celebrating Swin Cash
End First Quarter: Storm 18, Tulsa 18
The first 4,000 fans through the doors tonight received Swin Cash Bobbleheads. The Cash theme continued during that last timeout as the Storm honored the winners of the Swin Cash Super Fan contest. Cash herself is also thanking fans for their support by giving the fan with the best sign at tonight's game a chance to meet her and get their bobblehead signed after the game.
Cash has five points to jointly lead the Storm in the first quarter. Lauren Jackson also has five, and her bobblehead is the last of our three giveaways, coming up on Aug. 7 when the Shock visits a second time. Get your tickets for that game now. Also, be sure to participate in the Lauren Jackson Super Fan contest leading up to that game.
All Square Early
First Quarter: Storm 11, Tulsa 11
Entertaining game so far, though perhaps not in the way a very nice Sunday night crowd at KeyArena expected. Tulsa is very feisty and has played the Storm to a draw thus far. Nicole Ohlde, who's making her Shock debut tonight, has been highly effective, scoring on a drive to the basket from outside her usual range and then completing a step-through move.
At the defensive end, Tulsa is playing a 2-3 zone defense. Nolan Richardson said before the game he's had to use a lot more zone than he'd like so far this season. To match up with the Storm's size, the Shock both used a zone and started Jennifer Lacy at small forward instead of the smaller Shanna Crossley. The Storm has four offensive rebounds against the zone but has not yet shot the ball particularly well.
Kilbreath on PA
Storm P.A. Announcer Matt Pitman had a schedule conflict and was unable to be here this evening, so his predecessor Stephen Kilbreath is back on the microphone tonight. Kilbreath was the Storm P.A. Announcer through 2005.
Facing the Shock
It's the first visit to KeyArena by the Shock since the team moved from Detroit to Tulsa last winter. The Shock has struggled after making wholesale personnel changes. With this week's trade that sent Kara Braxton to Phoenix for Nicole Ohlde for a first-round pick, Tulsa has just one player left on the roster Nolan Richardson inherited when he took over the Shock's basketball operations. Before the game, Richardson told us that he wanted to get his core in place and now is focused on growing together the rest of the season and into 2011.
Richardson cautioned that Tulsa still wants to win games now, and shouldn't be overlooked. Certainly, there's no chance of Storm Head Coach Brian Agler doing just that.
"What they did last week to San Antonio is a good reason," he said. "They're a really good shooting team, I think the team and the staff itself is learning more about the league and how to play in the league. They've added Ivory Latta, who starts at the point now, and she's playing really well and gives them another shooter besides (Shanna) Crossley."
Welcome back to KeyArena. It seems like a long time since we've been here, and it has been - nearly three weeks since the last home game on July 6 against New York. Since then, the Storm has extended the longest winning streak in franchise history to 10 games, and that will be on the line again tonight as the Tulsa Shock visits KeyArena. It's a busy night with fans lining up to be among the first 4,000 who received Swin Cash bobbleheads. We're also celebrating Go Red Night, so look for plenty of action in our updates from on and off the court all night long.