Live from Press Row - Storm vs. Washington
Storm Gets the Win
Final: Storm 79, Washington 71
The Washington Mystics made things interesting, but they never led or even tied after scoring the first basket of the game. Seattle maintained controlled and made the necessary plays down the stretch to win consecutive games for the second time this season. The Storm's offense produced 19 assists and 50.0 percent shooting from the field to make up for Washington going 10-of-17 from beyond the arc.
Sue Bird was, as always, in complete control of the Storm offense. She picked her spots wisely and shot 8-of-14 from the field en route to 22 points. Swin Cash utilized the free throw line to score 20 points, her second time in as many games with 20-plus. Camille Little added 12 and Ashley Robinson had a season-high eight off the bench. Tanisha Wright contributed across the box score, handing out a season-high seven assists and tying her season high with six rebounds.
Now it's out on the road for the Storm. The three-game Midwest sojourn will pit the Storm against two of the Western Conference's top teams in San Antonio and Minnesota, as well as a quality Chicago Sky team with the dominant Sylvia Fowles in the middle. Thursday's game in San Antonio and Tuesday's game at Chicago will both be on ESPN2. In between, we'll have Live Access coverage on Saturday against the Lynx and all three games will air on 1090 AM. Then it's back to the Key a week from Thursday as the Storm closes out the first half of the season by hosting the Silver Stars. Get your tickets now and join us for that clash of Western Conference contenders!
That Might Do It
Fourth Quarter: Storm 78, Washington 71
Some tense moments after the Mystics scored four unanswered points to cut the Storm's lead to five with possession, but Nicky Anosike missed a jumper and Sue Bird was able to leak out the other way for an uncontested layup. That makes this a seven-point game with 42.3 seconds left to play, and Washington will have a tough time making up the three-possession defense. The Mystics will need some Storm mistakes to win.
Bird has 21 points, her fourth time this season topping the 20-point mark.
Big A-Rob Bucket
Fourth Quarter: Storm 76, Washington 67
Looking for a little more size at the defensive end of the floor, Storm Head Coach Brian Agler sent in Ashley Robinson a moment ago. He probably wasn't counting on a crucial bucket from Robinson, but that's exactly what the Storm got. Tanisha Wright found Robinson under the bucket for the finish and the foul, giving the Storm a nine-point lead before she heads to the free throw line after this timeout.
Washington has been helping on the pick-and-roll and letting Robinson go free to the bucket, a strategy that has backfired against this year's more confident A-Rob. Robinson has made four of her five shot attempts to score a season-high eight points in just 13 minutes of action.
Fourth Quarter: Storm 69, Washington 64
As even more kids than usual rush the floor for the Doppler Train, the Storm is clinging to a five-point advantage. Washington has closed the gap as small as two points but still has yet to tie or take the lead. A Swin Cash three-point play a moment ago helped give the Storm some breathing room. She's got 18 points and Tanisha Wright, who set her up, has a season-high six assists. On the other side, Marissa Coleman's latest three-pointer - her fourth of the afternoon - tied her career high with 16 points.
We've Got a Ballgame
End Third Quarter: Storm 61, Washington 57
The Storm led by double digits through much of the third quarter, but hot shooting by the Washington Mystics late in the third quarter cut the Storm's advantage to just four points. On Saturday at Indiana, the Mystics led the Eastern Conference leaders heading to the final period, and there's a common theme between the two games: three-point shooting. Washington was 8-of-16 from beyond the arc on Saturday. Today, they've been even better, hitting nine triples in 14 attempts (64.3 percent). The Storm opponent franchise record of 11 threes is in jeopardy.
Third Quarter: Storm 49, Washington 37
Storm Head Coach Brian Agler could not have scripted a better start to the second half. The Storm has forced turnovers on both Washington Mystics possessions and scored all three times down at the other end to double the lead from six to 12, which is the largest it's been this afternoon. Clearly, Agler emphasized the Mystics overplaying passes to the wing, as the Storm has been able to set up two layups with hard backdoor cuts.
This is the point where Washington has come up with an answer to keep the game close, and the key for the Storm will be maintaining or even extending this lead after a Trudi Lacey timeout.
Halftime: Storm 43, Washington 37
Our special guest for today's halftime is Caspar Babypants. The adults in attendance probably remember Caspar Babypants better as Chris Ballew, the former frontman for the Seattle-based The Presidents of the United States of America. Since the band broke up, Ballew has gotten into children's music. You can find out more about Caspar Babypants at his website.
To close things off, Babypants gave an exclusive performance of a song written for Storm mascot Doppler on Doppler's Birthday. The crowd and the Storm Dance Troupe helped out to make it extra special for Doppler.
Storm Must Get Defensive
Halftime: Storm 43, Washington 37
The Storm offense has carried over from Saturday's breakthrough performance, putting 43 points on the board in the first half. The Storm has struggled at times with turnovers, but 53.6 percent shooting from the field and 11 free throws have translated into more than enough production. Sue Bird has scored a game-high 15 points and Swin Cash is also in double figures with 10.
Still, the Storm's lead is a perilous six at the break. Washington has shot 48.3 percent from the field and has been especially effective from the perimeter, knocking down five three-pointers in 10 attempts. Before the game, Storm Head Coach Brian Agler rightly noted that the Mystics score mostly from one-on-one play, but that's changed today. The Mystics have 10 assists on 14 field goals, including three apiece from starting guards Matee Ajavon and Kelly Miler. They're breaking down the defense and finding open teammates, either at the rim or from downtown. The Storm has to close off those opportunities to pull away in the second half.
All-Stars Carrying Storm Offense
Second Quarter: Storm 36, Washington 30
The Storm offense has centered around the team's two All-Stars today. Sue Bird has been hot from beyond the arc, knocking down both of her three-point attempts to account for half of her game-high 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting. Bird also has a pair of assists. Swin Cash, meanwhile, has effectively driven the paint during this second quarter. She's got eight points on 3-of-6 shooting.
Pay attention during Thursday's ESPN2 broadcast of the Storm's game in San Antonio to find out whether Bird and Cash have been voted All-Star starters. The lineups for both teams will be announced as the Storm plays at the location of the July 23 All-Star Game, the AT&T Center.
Second Quarter: Storm 28, Washington 21
More of the same plot here during the early second quarter. The Storm surges ahead and Washington cuts into the lead. The Storm advantage was as large as 11 a moment ago after a Tanisha Wright three-point play, but a Marisa Coleman triple has helped the Mystics get back within seven. If the Storm could put the hammer down for an extended period, it would change the complexion of this game.
In a nice bit of timing, a number of kids are here for today's game supporting their family members on the team. Le'coe Willingham's son Derrick is a regular presence at practices and games. He's been joined by Swin Cash's niece, in town for the week, and Tanisha Wright's younger siblings. Yesterday, the kids were playing around after practice when the Mystics arrived. Trudi Lacey was nice enough to ask if they wanted to play 2-on-2 and then oblige them while going easy on the youngsters.
End First Quarter: Storm 23, Washington 17
Today is not only Kids Day but also Doppler's Birthday. During the timeout, Storm players wished Doppler a Happy Birthday on Arenavision. It wouldn't be a birthday without cake, and in-arena cohost Eva presented Doppler with one in the aisle, which was promptly put to good use in the face of an unsuspecting Mystics fan.
On the floor, it seems like the Storm's lead should be larger than seven points. Seattle is shooting a sizzling 62.5 percent from the field thanks to good ball movement, but Washington has been able to hang around and stay within striking distance. The Storm had seven assists on 10 first-quarter field goals. Two of the other scores were putbacks, so only one bucket has really come from one-on-one play.
Extending the Lead
First Quarter: Storm 17, Washington 7
A Sue Bird layup has given the Storm its largest lead at 10 points with 3:28 left in the first quarter and drawn another Trudi Lacey timeout (this one of the 20-second variety). The score gives the Storm six fast-break points. Washington has yet to score in transition. Bird has outscored the Mystics with nine points on perfect 3-of-3 shooting.
Out and Running
First Quarter: Storm 9, Washington 3
Before the game, Storm Head Coach Brian Agler talked about the goal of "playing in flow" and taking advantage of the opportunities provided by Washington's missed shots and turnovers. That's exactly what the team did just before the timeout. A Tanisha Wright steal turned into a trail three-point attempt from Sue Bird in transition, who knocked it down clean to cap a 9-0 surge since Matee Ajavon opened scoring with a three. Trudi Lacey responded with an early timeout.
Bird has five points already, hitting two free throws after drawing the second foul on Nicky Anosike. The starting center for the Mystics was forced to the bench, with Crystal Langhorne sliding over to center to make room for Dunlap in the lineup.
Fitting for Kids Day, our National Anthem was performed by 11-year-old KeyArena favorite Caspian Coberly. Coberly, who has become a fixture at the Key and played before Game 2 of last year's WNBA Finals, delivers an inspired electric guitar performance that is only natural in the shadow of the Experience Music Project. Now we're about ready to tip things off.
Washington will have a slightly different look than when these teams met a week and a half ago at the Verizon Center in the nation's capital. Crystal Langhorne missed that game and the next two with back pain, but she'll make her return to the lineup this afternoon. Backup Victoria Dunlap, a rookie out of Kentucky, was very effective against the Storm, so I'm curious to see how Mystics Head Coach Trudi Lacey utilizes Dunlap off the bench. Both Langhorne and Dunlap are strong on the offensive glass, where Washington leads the league, but Langhorne gives the team more high-percentage finishing in the paint in contrast to Dunlap's aggressive defense
Good morning from KeyArena, where we have the rare opportunity to greet you that way before the 12 noon start for the Storm's annual Kids Day game presented by Seattle children's Hospitalagainst the Washington Mystics. Asked whether he likes the early starts, Storm Head Coach Brian Agler noted that it depends on the outcome. A win will give the Storm the rest of the day to enjoy the success, but in case of a loss there's time to think back on the unusual schedule. So the Storm wants to come away with a second consecutive victory before heading out on a three-game road trip. Along the way, there will be plenty of fun at the Key for kids of all ages as we celebrate Doppler's Birthday.