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Live from Press Row: Storm vs. Phoenix

Want to enjoy the electricity of at KeyArena even if you're thousands of miles away? StormBasketball.com's Live from Press Row in-game blog is your best bet. All night and all season long, Kevin Pelton will be bringing you pregame quotes, analysis and observations from the game. Email Kevin at Web@StormBasketball.com. Make sure to keep coming back or refreshing so you get the latest content. And don't forget to watch the action with a LiveAccess subscription.

Bird's Bobblehead Night a Winner
Final: Storm 83, Phoenix 68


When Sue Bird missed last night's game with a strained hip flexor, I'm sure I wasn't the only person in Seattle who wondered whether Bird would have to miss her bobblehead night. We needn't have worried. Not only did Bird play, she dominated. Bird's 31 points were her most since her rookie season. She missed just one of her 11 shot attempts in one of the most efficient performances you'll ever see. Behind Bird, the Storm started the game with a 12-0 run and never looked back in a comfortable victory over the Mercury.

Bird got plenty of assistance from Camille Little, who scored nine of her 18 points after halftime and added nine rebounds. Ewelina Kobryn scored 10 points in her first career start and Shekinna Stricklen added eight. The Storm's defense held Phoenix to 32.8 percent shooting and 2-of-17 from beyond the three-point line.

Your last chance to see the Storm before the Olympic Break is this Wednesday, when we host Kids Day at 12 noon against the Atlanta Dream. Kids Day is always a fun, one-of-a-kind game. Get your tickets and join us!

Storm Taking Care of Business
Fourth Quarter: Storm 77, Phoenix 58


Credit the Mercury for playing hard while short-handed on the road in the second game of a back-to-back. Phoenix hasn't allowed the Storm to expand the lead after halftime. Still, with 2:47 to play, the drama is about out of this game. We were wondering whether Sue Bird could get another basket to tie her career high, but Bird has returned to the bench and is surely done for the night after playing 31 minutes.

Going Green
Fourth Quarter: Storm 69, Phoenix 52


You may have noticed the incongruous sight of the Storm wearing green away jerseys here at home. It's all part of Go Green Night, as we celebrate the efforts of the Storm and its fans to help the environment. Our partners - UPS, Carter Subaru and Goodwill - are a big part of that process. Read all about it on our Go Green page here on StormBasketball.com.

Birdy for Thirty (Plus)
End Third Quarter: Storm 65, Phoenix 45


With two free throws late in the third quarter, Sue Bird topped the 30-point mark for the second time in her career. She's now got 31 points, two shy of her career high, and still has missed just once from the field in 11 shot attempts. During the third quarter, Bird got some scoring help from Ewelina Kobryn, who now has 10 points. A week ago, Kobryn had never scored double figures. Since then, she's done so three games in a row.

During the quarter break, Carter Subaru sponsored a free throw shootout as part of Go Green Night. The result was a tie between Annie and Allison, who both won a pair of tickets to the Woodland Park Zoo Concert and a signed Sue Bird photo and earned eight extra trees to go with the ones Carter is already planting through the 3s for Trees program - including nine made by the Storm tonight, five by Bird.

Storm Extends the Lead
Third Quarter: Storm 55, Phoenix 36


Phoenix scored the first six points of the second half to make the fans at KeyArena restless. Storm Head Coach Brian Agler trusted his team to play through the rough patch and was rewarded when the Storm answered with a 6-0 spurt of its own. With the Mercury's Avery Warley headed to the free throw line after this break, the Storm has actually added two points to the lead since halftime, bringing it to 19. Sue Bird has another three-pointer, her fifth, to give her 29 points for the game. Bird needs just one more point to reach 30 for the second time in her career.

On the Phoenix side, it looks like we won't see Candice Dupree tonight. Dupree has yet to get in the game and, while she's dressed, she's also wearing earrings. Dupree played eight minutes last night in her first action since suffering a left knee contusion on June 17. Her absence leaves the Mercury without its three leading scorers from 2011 due to injury.

All Storm at the Break
Halftime: Storm 45, Phoenix 28


The Storm has just eight players active tonight, but about all that's mattered is that Sue Bird is one of them. Bird missed a free throw late in the first half and then missed a three before the buzzer, so she's no longer perfect. Bird will settle for 26 points on 9-of-10 shooting in what was undoubtedly the highest-scoring half of her career.

While Bird has carried the Storm offense, everyone has contributed on defense. The Storm has held Phoenix to 27.6 percent shooting. The Mercury's go-to player, DeWanna Bonner, has come up with 10 points. The rest of the starting lineup has combined for seven on 2-of-13 shooting. Phoenix is getting nothing easy against the Storm defense and has been unable to make difficult shots.

Sue's Night
Second Quarter: Storm 40, Phoenix 23


There's no stopping Sue Bird tonight. A moment ago, Bird came off a pick-and-roll and was looking for an open teammate. When the Phoenix defense sagged into the paint, Bird reluctantly pulled up for the three-pointer ... nothing but net. Bird is now a perfect 8-for-8 from the field, including 4-of-4 from three-point range. She also had an old-fashioned three-point play to give her 21 points. Bird's career high is 33, and she hasn't scored more than 29 (last July at Tulsa) since her rookie season.

Wauters, Thompson Update
Second Quarter: Storm 33, Phoenix 18


The Storm is without Tina Thompson and Ann Wauters tonight, and both players are listed as day-to-day going forward. Wauters appears closer to returning after missing three games with a strained left Achilles.

"She's improving," said Agler. "She's going to try to practice on Tuesday. She jogged last night before the game. It's still not 100 percent but it's making some good progress."

Thompson, who suffered a left knee strain last night against the Sparks, remained in L.A. this morning.

"She was up all night," explained Agler. "Her knee was really hurting this morning. She wasn't going to play anyway."

Thompson was up late getting tests on her knee, which did not indicate she did any serious damage in a scary looking fall.

"There's some inflammation on the outside of her left leg, one of the ligaments, but in regards to being significant that didn't show up," Agler said.

Phoenix Trying to Climb Back
End First Quarter: Storm 22, Phoenix 12


After the 12-0 start in the Storm's favor, the Phoenix Mercury held a 12-10 advantage the rest of the quarter. The Mercury has found some sources of offense, though Phoenix is still shooting just 20.0 percent from the field (4-of-20). Meanwhile, the Storm's offense has been powered by three-point shooting. Seattle is 4-of-5 from downtown, including 3-of-3 for Bird, who had 13 points to outscore the Mercury all by herself.

Those threes aren't going to continue to fall at an 80 percent clip, so the Storm will need to find some other ways to manufacture offense with an undersized frontcourt.

Birdy's Balling
First Quarter: Storm 12, Phoenix 0


I wouldn't blame Corey Gaines if he questioned just how injured Sue Bird really is. She hasn't looked like she's limited so far tonight. Bird scored the game's first seven points and has 10 of the 12, including a pair of three-pointers. Camille Little also has a transition bucket as the Storm has made five of its six shot attempts. Phoenix is 0-of-7 at the other end and Gaines will look for answers after a timeout.

Bird Returns
Pregame


Sue Bird will play and start tonight after missing last night's game with a strained hip flexor. The injury began bothering Bird during practice last week, and she saw a doctor on Thursday to assess the injury. No major cause for concern was found, but Bird was told the hip was mad at her, so to speak.

"I just need to let it not be mad at me anymore," she said. "With a back-to-back, that can be very demanding of your body and strenuous. What he said is, 'Rather than let this be something that's bothering you for the next three months, nip it in the bud.'"

After taking a couple days off to rest the hip, Bird now wants to give it a go.

"I feel like tonight is a good test to see where I'm at," she explained. "I'm going to play, see how it feels afterward and go from there.

"I'm going to go into tonight's game not even thinking about it."

Bird was told the injury was not related to the surgery she had to repair the labrum in her hip last fall. It's just something she'll have to deal with - hopefully in the short term with rest, rather than allowing it to linger. Bird has the Olympics coming up at the end of the month, followed by the completion of the WNBA season, so her schedule won't get lighter any time soon.

Signing On
Pregame


Welcome back to KeyArena, where the Storm has returned for the first time in two weeks to take on the Phoenix Mercury. Tonight, we're celebrating Sue Bird as she heads off to international play with a bobblehead featuring Bird with the flag for the first 4,000 fans through KeyArena's doors. Good news: Bird will play on her bobblehead night after missing yesterday's loss at Los Angeles with a strained hip flexor. However, the Storm will be without Tina Thompson and Ann Wauters. Phoenix's injury report is equally star studded with Diana Taurasi and Penny Taylor back in the Valley of the Sun due to their injuries. With both teams coming off back-to-backs and traveling this morning, the playing field should be level, so we expect a tough battle between West rivals. Stay with us all night long for the latest from courtside.