Live from Press Row - Storm vs. Tulsa
Solid Victory for Storm
Final: Storm 74, Tulsa 57
At times tonight, the Tulsa Shock showed why they've put a scare into more talented opponents the last two games. The Shock never lost contact, but the Storm was able to maintain a double-digit margin nearly throughout the fourth quarter. The play of the Storm's reserves and other starters allowed Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson to sit out the entire period, which is good news with the stretch run approaching. Bird played just 25 minutes tonight and Jackson was held to 15, which should be helpful as she comes back form hip surgery.
Jackson made the most of the minutes she did play, scoring a team-high 14 points. Jackson knocked down a pair of three-pointers and had two three-point plays to help propel the Storm forward after halftime. Tanisha Wright also had a really nice night, scoring 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting and handing out three assists. And 10 of the Storm's 11 players scored in the game as Coach Agler opened up his bench.
We've talked about everything else that's happening on Sunday. Now it's time to focus on the basketball. The Storm's magic number for clinching a playoff berth is down to four, and because that number is calculated against Los Angeles, the Storm can cut it in half with a win Sunday. These two long-time rivals are both playing some of their best basketball since getting their stars (Jackson and Candace Parker) back from injury, which should make for a great atmosphere at KeyArena. You'll want to be a part of it. Get your tickets now and join us!
Storm Lineup Holding On
Fourth Quarter: Storm 64, Tulsa 53
As we've seen all season, the Shock isn't going to quit in the face of adversity. Led by Sheryl Swoopes, who has scored half of her team-high 12 points in the fourth quarter, Tulsa briefly got the lead within nine points. The Storm has pushed it back to double-figures with possession and the clock is on Seattle's side. There's just 2:39 left to play after this timeout.
Reserves Getting Some Run
Fourth Quarter: Storm 56, Tulsa 41
While this game isn't yet decided, the Storm has been able to maintain a comfortable advantage, which has had the happy benefit of allowing Brian Agler to go deeper into the bench. Ewelina Kobryn is getting some run tonight as stars Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson watch from the bench. The reserves have been effective tonight, combining for 17 points. Ashley Robinson is also a rebound away from reaching double-figures for the second time this season.
As mentioned earlier, Sunday is Back to School Night presented by Group Health. Be sure to get here early because the first 3,000 fans will receive Storm lunchboxes presented by Bartell Drugs and Group Health. Also, help us collect school supplies for the Bartell Drugs School Tools program. Donation bins will be set up on the plaza and concourse. Your donation helps send kids off to school with the right stuff to succeed.
Opening Up a Lead
End Third Quarter: Storm 56, Tulsa 41
The Storm's largest lead tonight is the one the home team takes to the final period: 15 points. The Storm doubled its scoring total during the third quarter, scoring 28 points on 9-of-16 shooting. Lauren Jackson really set the tone with her play. Jackson scored nine of her game-high 14 points in the third quarter, making all three of her shot attempts. Jackson had a three-point play and a triple during her efficient quarter.
We've got a great event coming up Sunday. Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman will be here for a pregame event where she'll sign copies of her new book, Playbook for Success. Click here to find out more about how you can attend.
Playing with a Purpose
Third Quarter: Storm 44, Tulsa 35
Lately, one of Storm Head Coach Brian Agler's buzz phrases has been "playing with a purpose" on offense. I think that's what we've seen from the Storm since the break. In the quarter, Seattle has made six shots in nine attempts to score 16 points in a little over five minutes with Swin Cash headed to the free throw line to try to complete a three-point play.
All five starters have scored for the Storm and it's been great to see Cash get on the board after starting the night 0-of-6 from the field. Cash's shooting slump has been a topic of discussion lately, but as Brian Agler pointed out before tonight's game, she's been contributing in other areas. It's only a matter of time before Cash's shot comes around. In the meantime, she's been a positive contributor largely because of her rebounding.
Halftime: Storm 31, Tulsa 25
In anticipation of Sunday's Back to School Night, tonight's halftime entertainment was the Storm Spelling Bee presented by Bartell Drugs. It turns out we've got a lot of young Storm fans in elementary school who can spell words like "championship." When one contestant struggled, she got some help from the KeyArena fans. Ultimately, we had four co-champions who correctly spelled every word they tried.
Halftime: Storm 28, Tulsa 25
At the break, we still have a very competitive ballgame. The Storm led by as many as nine points during the second quarter, but the Shock scored the last six points of the half to cut the deficit to just three. Tiffany Jackson led the way for Tulsa, playing tough on the offensive glass and finishing in the paint. She's got 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting and six rebounds. Both of those marks are game highs.
Little Run for Storm
Second Quarter: Storm 25, Tulsa 17
A pair of Lauren Jackson free throws and a Katie Smith three in transition have helped the Storm open up its largest lead of the game at eight-points. It's a 7-0 run, technically, but doesn't really feel like one because it encompasses the entirety of the second quarter. Tulsa has yet to score. The Shock has only gotten two shot attempts in the period because of seven turnovers. Tulsa is making a lot of mistakes and the Storm is helping itself by being aggressive in the passing lanes.
Now that the Storm is scoring some points, that's giving the crowd something to cheer about and getting them involved in the game.
Second Quarter: Storm 20, Tulsa 17
There's been a lid on the basket during this second quarter. Actually, there's been grease on the basketball, as the teams are struggling to keep hold of it or make shots when they do. Ashley Robinson's layup was our only score of the period so far, and that was nearly three and a half minutes ago. The Tulsa Shock has committed five turnovers on six possessions. The Storm has just two turnovers, but is 1-of-10 from the field thus far, struggling to convert shots in the paint.
What the low-scoring affair means is that the Storm has been unable to extend its lead. Right now, it's still a one-possession game.
Shock Hanging Tough
End First Quarter: Storm 18, Tulsa 17
Very little separation between these times through one quarter complete. Both teams have kept up their high shooting percentages. Until the final shot of the quarter was missed by Sheryl Swoopes at half court, both were shooting an even 50 percent.
Tulsa is really playing with a lot of confidence right now. The Shock has made some difficult shots and is doing a phenomenal job in the paint. Tulsa came up with two offensive rebounds in the first quarter while keeping the Storm without a second chance. Tiffany Jackson leads the Shock with six points and four rebounds. Liz Cambage checked in late in the first quarter and we'll see how the Storm deals with the 6-8 rookie.
Quick Start on Offense
First Quarter: Storm 9, Tulsa 6
In the early going, both teams have been effective scoring the basketball. They're shooting a combined 7-of-10 from the field. The Storm has scored eight of its nine points in the paint, the lone exception being a free throw to complete a Lauren Jackson three-point play. Tulsa has made some much more difficult shots to stay in the game.
Shock Head Coach Teresa Edwards had to take a quick timeout after Amber Holt was knocked down by two Storm defenders. Holt, who previously was slow to get up after paying the price to take a charge from Swin Cash, was on the ground for much of the timeout before being helped to the bench, where she is being attended to now.
Jackson Bouncing Back
After Storm Head Coach Brian Agler played it conservative in reporting the health of MVP Lauren Jackson on Wednesday, he was encouraged by how she felt today, two days after playing 25 minutes against the San Antonio Silver Stars.
"She's bouncing back," said Agler. "She's recovering, and that's a good sign. That's what everybody wanted to see. She feels good. She plays. How's she going to respond?"
Agler expects her to see fairly similar action tonight.
"We're going to try to win the game," he said, "but we'll try to keep her in that 20 window."
We're back at KeyArena tonight as the Storm continues a four-game homestand and tries to move a step closer to securing a playoff berth tonight against the Tulsa Shock. The Shock comes to town losers of a WNBA-record 19 in a row, but also playing better basketball of late. Tulsa's last two losses have come by just 12 points to a pair of teams in the West playoff picture, including the league-leading Minnesota Lynx. If the Shock is that competitive again tonight, we should be in for a good matchup, so stay with us all night long as the Storm looks for a third consecutive win.