Live from Press Row - Storm vs. San Antonio
Storm Starts August Strong
Final: Storm 78, San Antonio 64
Storm Head Coach Brian Agler mentioned the other day he hoped to get to August at .500 or better, then take advantage of a home-friendly schedule this month. That's just what the Storm did tonight, using the KeyArena crowd to put together a pair of critical runs in each half. The noise supported a locked-in Storm defense that held San Antonio to 39.1 percent shooting. The Silver Stars were limited to fewer than 70 points for the fourth time this season. Three of those four games have come against the Storm.
The Seattle offense had plenty of contributors, with six of the seven rotation players contributing at least nine points. Sue Bird led the way with 17 points. Swin Cash added 16 on 7-of-10 shooting to go along with nine rebounds. Tanisha Wright scored 12 points, handed out seven assists and was responsible for holding Becky Hammon (11 points, four assists) in check. Katie Smith and Le'coe Willingham combined for 19 points as the Storm bench played its San Antonio counterpart, which leads the league in reserve scoring, to a draw.
You'll want to join us Friday when the Storm is back here at KeyArena to host the Connecticut Sun. At halftime, we'll honor our 2011 Women of Inspiration. The Storm is looking to even the season series after a narrow loss in Connecticut earlier this year. It should be a fun one, so get your tickets now!
Silver Stars Can't Score
Fourth Quarter: Storm 70, San Antonio 54
San Antonio might have seen enough of KeyArena for a while. The combination of the WNBA's best home court advantage and the league's toughest defense has made the going difficult for the Silver Stars in the last two games. Tonight, San Antonio has been unable to generate any offense in the final period. The Silver Stars are still stuck on two points and have shot 1-of-8 from the field with five turnovers. The Storm's defensive execution has been terrific.
I also think we're seeing San Antonio miss Danielle Adams' scoring tonight. Before the game, Dan Hughes rated his team's performance without Adams as "OK." The Silver Stars beat Phoenix at home and suffered a one-point loss at the buzzer to the streaking Minnesota Lynx. Tonight San Antonio hasn't gotten its usual bench production, and Becky Hammon has been unable to pick up the slack under defensive pressure from Tanisha Wright.
Storm Clamps Down
Fourth Quarter: Storm 64, San Antonio 54
When Becky Hammon knocked down a difficult floater a moment ago, it was San Antonio's first score of the fourth quarter after nearly four minutes. Tough Storm defense has allowed the home team to open up a double-digit lead as we head to the stretch run. The Storm did it with a lineup change. Seeking to jumpstart the team and create some energy, Brian Agler went small, moving Swin Cash to power forward with a three-guard lineup of Sue Bird, Katie Smith and Tanisha Wright. That group sparked the Storm's run.
Timely Storm Surge
End Third Quarter: Storm 60, San Antonio 52
Most of the third quarter belonged to the San Antonio Silver Stars, who used an 11-2 run to cut their deficit - once 18 points - down to just one. But the Storm responded at the end of the quarter with a 7-0 surge to create some breathing room heading to the final period. Sue Bird finished the quarter with a big three-pointer after the noise of the KeyArena faithful helped force a pair of Ruth Riley misses at the line.
Before we go to the fourth, I wanted to take a second to recognize and unheralded member of the Storm. Tonight is Danielle Yellam's last game with the Storm as equipment manager and video coordinator. Yellam joined the Storm in 2008 and has become a fixture, but now she's off to study to work as a trainer on cruise ships. On behalf of everyone at the Storm, we wish Danielle good luck and thank her for being part of the Storm for three-plus seasons, including the championship.
Third Quarter: Storm 49, San Antonio 39
The Storm encouraged fans (and employees) to wear pink tonight for Breast Health Awareness, and naturally players got involved as well. The Storm is sporting pink uniforms for the second consecutive season, and players are also wearing pink shoes. Ashley Robinson has gone all out. Robinson's multi-hued hair, which has been blue (for the Dallas Mavericks) and purple this season, is now pink. Be sure to check out photos in our gallery on StormBasketball.com tomorrow.
On the floor, San Antonio continues to ugly things up and slow this game down. Given the way the Storm started offensively, the Silver Stars have to be quite pleased to trail by just 10 points right now. Like the Storm has done in recent seasons, San Antonio is hanging around in the hopes of stealing a victory.
Game Bogs Down
Halftime: Storm 44, San Antonio 33
The last five minutes of the first half featured some ugly basketball dominated by referee whistles. Given the way the Storm was playing, that sluggish style worked in the favor of the Silver Stars, who were able to whittle the lead down to a manageable 11 points at the break.
There was still a lot to like about the Storm's first-half effort. The bench was very effective, with Katie Smith knocking down a pair of triples en route to eight points and Le'coe Willingham (who returned late in the half) adding seven. The Storm shot 63.3 percent from the field and handed out 14 assists on 19 field goals - six of them by Tanisha Wright. And Swin Cash is a perfect 5-of-5 from the field, scoring a team-high 10 points.
I think there are a couple of areas Brian Agler will address at the break. One is getting out on shooters. San Antonio made five threes in seven attempts, most of them open looks. The Silver Stars also came up with seven offensive boards, which is atypical of their style. Those second chances helped keep San Antonio in the game.
Silver Stars Can't Stop the Run
Second Quarter: Storm 37, San Antonio 21
Dating back to our first timeout of the game, the Storm has outscored the Silver Stars 20-7, turning what was a close game into a 16-point Seattle lead. Dan Hughes just spent his second timeout trying to stop the run. So far, nothing has worked. The Storm is still shooting 77.3 percent from the field and has gotten going at the defensive end thanks in part to the presence of Ashley Robinson. San Antonio is 1-of-5 from the field in the second period.
The timeout does give us a chance to debut our latest Storm Mini-Game: the Swin Cash Grab. Sue Bird collected more dollar bills during a minute in the cash machine, defeating Tanisha Wright. Stay tuned for video of the game on StormBasketball.com.
Good news during the timeout: Le'coe Willingham is back on the bench and walking around. We'll see if she returns to the game.
Second Quarter: Storm 33, San Antonio 21
The Storm had to take a timeout shortly into the second quarter after Le'coe Willingham went down awkwardly while trying to pass through traffic. Willingham, who was holding her left foot, was able to hobble to the locker room with Head Athletic Trainer Tom Spencer to be examined. We'll have more on her status as soon as we learn anything.
Excellent First Quarter
End First Quarter: Storm 31, San Antonio 19
The Storm made, unofficially, nine consecutive shot attempts at one point during the first quarter. With 10 seconds left, the team was 14-of-15 from the field. Camille Little missed a three and Le'coe Willingham missed a follow attempt at the buzzer, meaning the Storm shot only 82.4 percent in the first quarter, but this was still the best offensive first quarter the Storm has had this season by a mile. The team's previous season high for the opening period - which has been a struggle - was 23 points.
During the break, the Storm began Breast Health Awareness Night in earnest by asking survivors to stand in the crowd to be recognized along with their families. That's a highlight of what is always a great night.
Storm Keeps it Going
First Quarter: Storm 24, San Antonio 14
Eventually, the Storm is bound to cool down, but it hasn't happened yet. A 7-0 surge since the timeout has allowed the Storm to open up a double-figure lead. The Storm is now 11-of-12 from the field and eight Seattle players have scored, including reserves Katie Smith and Le'coe Willingham.
First Quarter: Storm 17, San Antonio 14
These two teams - especially the Storm - are known more for their defense than their offense. Not so in the first six minutes of tonight's game. The two teams combined to make their first 10 shot attempts - five by each side - and are currently hitting a combined 77.7 percent from the field. The Storm has just one miss thus far.
It's been a balanced offensive attack for the Storm, which has gotten at least one bucket from every starter. Swin Cash leads the way with six points on 3-of-3 shooting. On the other side, Scholanda Robinson could not miss from the perimeter early, scoring eight points. After the timeout, the Silver Stars will bring in their talented, deep bench for the first time.
An eventful pregame at center court on the KeyArena hardwood. The Storm started things off by honoring Sue Bird, Lauren Jackson and Katie Smith as members of the WNBA's Top 15 Players of All Time, as announced during the All-Star Game at the AT&T center in San Antonio. Jackson stuck around the court to receive an even bigger standing ovation for the announcement of her multi-year contract extension to stay with the Storm. You can read more about LJ's thoughts on her new deal and moving a step closer to finishing her career in Seattle with our feature story.
Lastly, the Brown Sisters brought the house down with their rendition of the National Anthem, one of the best I've ever heard. That down, we're about ready to play basketball.
Welcome back to KeyArena. It's been a while since the Storm Crazies have gathered here for a game. In the 12 days since the Storm beat the San Antonio Silver Stars on July 21, we've had the All-Star Game as well as a three-game road trip on which the Storm went 2-1, finishing up a road-heavy month of July. We'll be spending a lot more time at the Key during August, when the Storm plays eight of its 12 games at home. That kicks off tonight against the very same Silver Stars in a rematch between two teams battling for playoff position in the Western Conference. Stay with us all night long for the latest from courtside as the Storm goes for another win over San Antonio.