Live from Press Row - Storm vs. Minnesota
Storm Comeback Falls Short
Final: Minnesota 81, Storm 74
We've found a limit to the kind of comebacks the Storm can make. A lead as large as 30 points, and 25 entering the fourth quarter, is too much to overcome - though not by much. Had a couple more threes fallen, the Storm could have made things very interesting down the stretch. Even though Seattle was unable to complete the comeback, I think this game sent a message of its own to teams that come into KeyArena. To beat the Storm, you're going to need to go up by 20-plus points and you're still going to have to sweat out the final quarter.
With the the Storm in need of points tonight, Sue Bird turned scorer, putting up 24 points - better than in any game in 2010. Swin Cash had 17 points and Camille Little scored 10, but Lauren Jackson was held to nine on 4-of-12 shooting. On the other side, Rebekkah Brunson (22 points, 14 boards) continued her run as the league's leading rebounder and Lindsay Whalen handed out 10 assists to go with her 13 points.
The Storm will surely have some things to work on after tonight's game and gets a full week of practice to address them. You'll get a chance to see what that entails on Saturday, when the Storm's practice at Edmonds Woodway High School - the alma mater of Storm President and CEO Karen Bryant - is free and open to all fans. Come check it out from 1-3 p.m. and find out what we're talking about when we talk about practice. Then it's back to KeyArena to start a new streak next Friday, when the Indiana Fever vists on Dads & Daughters Night. Be sure to take advantage of the special Dads & Daughters ticket offer!
Keeping Things Interesting
Fourth Quarter: Minnesota 75, Storm 69
Inside the final 30 seconds, the six-point margin is the closest the game has been since the opening minutes. Time may run out on the Storm, which has to intentionally foul Minnesota to get the ball back, but the Storm isn't playing like this game is almost over.
Time Running Out
Fourth Quarter: Minnesota 71, Storm 59
With 1:56 left, a 12-point lead might be too large for the Storm to overcome, though Seattle will have a chance to win a jumpball after this timeout and cut into the deficit. Sue Bird has had a pair of three-point looks that were oh so close to going in and Lauren Jackson also had a putback that swirled around and out. That's the nature of coming back - you have to be almost perfect to make up such a sizeable gap. But no one in KeyArena is going to count the Storm out yet. This crowd might not be as large as Saturday's opener, but it's been phenomenal down the stretch, standing and cheering.
Here Comes the Storm ...
Fourth Quarter: Minnesota 69, Storm 57
You didn't think the Storm would let this home winning streak go without a fight, did you? The lead is down to 12 and KeyArena is rockin', forcing Cheryl Reeve to take a timeout. During the fourth quarter, the Storm has outscored Minnesota 18-5 with the UConn connection of Sue Bird and Swin Cash leading the effort. All-Star voting starts this weekend, and you'll have the chance to vote Bird and Cash as well as Lauren Jackson, Camille Little and Tanisha Wright to be part of the Western Conference starting lineup in San Antonio. Stay tuned for details on how you can cast your vote.
Taj McWilliams-Franklin seemed to ask back in the game, but Reeve directed her to the exercise bike instead to make sure she's ready to play.
Fourth Quarter: Minnesota 64, Storm 39
Sue Bird has been aggressively looking for her offense in the second half. Here in the fourth quarter, she's knocked down a pair of three-pointers off the dribble, cutting the deficit to 19 points. There's still a long ways to go, but Cheryl Reeve doesn't want the KeyArena crowd building any momentum and takes a quick timeout. Still 7:55 left on the clock as the kids who were part of the Doppler Train retreat to their seats.
McWilliams to Locker Room
Fourth Quarter: Minnesota 64, Storm 39
Lynx veteran Taj McWiliams, a key offseason acquisition, has taken a couple of blows to the face tonight. A moment ago, she got up woozy and had to be helped gingerly to the locker room for further examination.
A Lot to Overcome
End Third Quarter: Minnesota 64, Storm 39
The Storm turned up the defense in the third quarter, holding Minnesota to 14 points but ended up taking just one point of the huge lead the Lynx have built - now 25 points heading to the final period. No deficit has been too large to keep the Storm from attempting a comeback, but this one is going to take a Herculean effort. Though the Storm's offense looks more in sync this half, making shots remains a challenge.
During the timeout, our first Movie Magic of the season with Storm Head Coach Brian Agler as Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
Third Quarter: Minnesota 58, Storm 32
Tanisha Wright got the Storm an extra possession by diving on the floor to secure a loose ball away from Maya Moore and calling timeout. The Storm is playing with a lot of energy right now, but it's also going to take execution to cut into this lead.
Doppler took full advantage of the timeout by convincing Brock Huard to show off his left arm and toss a touchdown pass. When Doppler tried to return the favor, we found out Doppler is better at shooting basketball than throwing footballs.
Storm Has No More Luck with Other Basket
Third Quarter: Minnesota 58, Storm 30
Changing ends of the floor has not been enough to get the Storm going on offense. The team suffered through another long scoreless period to start the second half and has six points in the first 5:33. Minnesota hasn't been much more potent, scoring eight, but at this point the Lynx merely need to maintain their lead.
The bench helped the Storm in the first half and we'll see if the same is true in the third quarter now that Le'coe Willingham has stepped in for a quiet Lauren Jackson and Katie Smith has replaced Camille Little in a small lineup.
Scoring on One Wheel
Halftime: Minnesota 50, Storm 24
Our halftime entertainment is the Laurelhurst Unicycling and Juggling team, which not only displayed its ability to balance on one wheel but even knock down baskets at the same time with the most unique layup line you'll ever see. Great stuff.
Storm Stunned in First Half
Halftime: Minnesota 50, Storm 24
I'm not sure the KeyArena crowd quite knows how to react to what it saw in the first half. We saw the Storm fall behind at times last season, but very rarely has an opponent come into the Key and controlled the game the way the Minnesota Lynx did in the first 20 minutes. Give full credit to the Lynx, who were prepared for this game and had an excellent plan to attack the Storm's transition defense with Lindsay Whalen on the ball, wings flying down the court and Rebekkah Brunson trailing the action. We know all about the talent Minnesota has on the roster with the addition of Maya Moore, and a performance like this half shows the Lynx's potential.
On the Storm side, the offensive execution hasn't been awful. Seattle has just seven turnovers. However, the Storm has been unable to make shots, going 1-of-8 from three-point range (12.5 percent) and 8-of-24 (33.3 percent) inside the arc. Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson are a combined 2-of-12 from the field. There are looks out there if the Storm can start knocking them down. Seattle also has to get back defensively. The Lynx have 10 fast-break points more than the Mercury had all game on Saturday. By contrast, the Storm has yet to score a fast-break point.
Lynx Back Running
Second Quarter: Minnesota 46, Storm 20
The Storm briefly cut the lead down to 16, but Minnesota has responded with a 12-2 run to take its largest lead of the game at 26 points. The difference has started with Lindsay Whalen. She's leading the break and throwing pinpoint passes. Whalen has seven points and seven assists. In the paint, Rebekkah Brunson is closing in on a double-double of her own with 14 points and eight rebounds. And wings Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore are causing trouble both off the dribble and from the perimeter.
All the Storm can do is try to stay solid at both ends and cut into this lead. It's impossible to make up a 26-point advantage by halftime, but we've seen more dramatic comebacks from the Storm before. If nothing else, this team always believes it's in the game until the very buzzer.
Second Quarter: Minnesota 28, Storm 10
There's a football feel to the front row at KeyArena tonight. Retired Seahawks legend Walter Jones, one of the finest offensive linemen ever to play the game, is sitting with his children alongside Storm President & CEO Karen Bryant. Jones tweeted that this is his first WNBA game. At the other end of the row is Brock Huard, the former Seahawk and University of Washington quarterback who now co-hosts a show on ESPN 710 AM in Seattle. Both stars got a nice ovation during the timeout.
Storm Getting in Gear After Drought
End First Quarter: Minnesota 28, Storm 8
This is my ninth years covering the Storm and 10th year watching the team, and I'm not sure I've ever seen a stretch at KeyArena quite like the start of this game. The Storm simply could not buy a bucket, going more than seven minutes and through two timeouts without a basket. Lauren Jackson finally got the Storm on the scoreboard with a turnaround with 2:58 left in the first quarter. By that point, the Storm already trailed 22-0. Minnesota has been aggressive and effective, scoring frequently in transition.
After breaking the lid on the basket, the Storm had much more success on offense, scoring eight points in the last 2:58 to get the lead to a slightly more manageable 20. Comebacks are nothing new at KeyArena and of course there's tons of time left, so we'll see how the Storm responds to this slow start.
Slow Start for the Storm
First Quarter: Minnesota 12, Storm 0
One of Storm Head Coach Brian Agler's concerns entering this game was the difference in game action the two teams have gotten so far this season. Where Minnesota is playing its fourth game already, the Storm is on game number two. We've seen that difference early, as the Lynx looks very crisp while the Storm is still working through some early-season issues. Agler has taken a pair of timeouts to try to get his team together, but so far the fans at KeyArena are still on their feet in anticipation of the first Storm basket.
Hello from KeyArena, where the Seattle Storm is ready to get back to action after following up the Opening Day victory over the Minnesota Lynx with a four-day break. After working to clean up issues from Opening Day in practice, the Storm will be tested by another contender in the Western Conference. The Lynx have played a league-high three games already and won a pair of them, both at home. Last year, these two teams played four games decided by a total of 10 points, but KeyArena has been a tough place to win for Minnesota. The Lynx's last road win against the Storm came back in 2005. Since then, the Storm has won 10 consecutive home matchups with Minnesota, a streak Seattle will be looking to extend tonight.