Live from Press Row: Storm vs. Minnesota
Storm Outlasts Lynx
Final (2OT): Storm 86, Minnesota 79
It's a final. Getting baskets from Camille Little and Sue Bird (another three) down the stretch, the Storm held off Minnesota for a double-overtime win in this instant classic. What an amazing game. At various turns, it looked like the Storm was sunk, but true to our playoff slogan, the team was Not Finished. Lauren Jackson had a clutch three-pointer to tie the game and force overtime, while Tanisha Wright came up with a triple that was nearly as big in the first extra session. The Storm th en controlled the second OT, outscoring the Lynx 11-4.
So many players were important in this outcome. Bird had 22 points, seven assists and four steals and Wright scored 18 point just eight shot attempts, going 7-of-7 from the free throw line. She also handed out seven assists. Camille Little overcame foul trouble to finish with 12 points and seven boards. Tina Thompson came off the bench to nearly record a double-double, settling for 10 points and nine rebounds. And enough can't possibly be said about Lauren Jackson, who stuck with it through a terrible shooting night to make the game's biggest shot and pull down 14 crucial rebounds before fouling out.
So now it's back to Minnesota for the winner-take-all Game 3. It's the sixth time in the last eight years the Storm's opening-round series has gone the distance, but the first time since 2007 that the team has gone on the road for Game 3. We'll decide this series on Tuesday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2. Between now and then, stay tuned to StormBasketball.com for complete coverage of tonight's game and a look ahead to Tuesday.
Storm Finds Success Beyond the Arc
Second OT: Storm 81, Minnesota 79
Threes have been the Storm's salvation here in this second extra session. Tina Thompson knocked one down early in the period and Sue Bird just had another to give the Storm an 81-79 lead with 1:39 to play. The team will take possession after this timeout with a chance to extend the advantage and make this a two-possession game with time running down.
More Free Basketball
End First OT: Minnesota 75, Storm 75
We're headed to a second overtime period after the Storm got not one but two stops on the final possession of regulation. Seimone Augustus missed a difficult fadeaway shot off the crossover going to her left, but the ball was tipped out of bounds to Minnesota with 1.4 seconds remaining. After a timeout, the Lynx tried to lob to Rebekkah Brunson, but Tina Thompson deflected it away and Minnesota could not get up a shot.
At this point fatigue starts to become a factor. Three players on each side have played at least 36 minutes and will go over 40 if they play all of this second OT. The Storm is also undersized with Thompson in the middle in place of Lauren Jackson. Boxing out Brunson will be crucial.
Tanisha Ties It
OT: Minnesota 75, Storm 75
Huge shot by Tanisha Wright. With the shot clock running down and the Storm desperately in need of a score, Wright used a pass fake to shake the defense and knocked down an open three-pointer to tie the game. Minnesota has taken timeout with 23.9 seconds remaining and has a chance to play for the final shot.
No More LJ
OT: Minnesota 75, Storm 72
The Storm will be without Lauren Jackson the rest of the way after Jackson drew her sixth foul on a putback attempt by (who else?) Rebekkah Brunson. With 40.2 seconds left, the Storm trails by three after Brunson split her free throw attempts. Brunson has been simply unstoppable in OT, racking up three of her 15 rebounds to go with 20 points. Right now, the Storm needs a bucket to avoid having to start playing the foul game. We'll see where the team goes after this timeout.
Storm Down Two
OT: Minnesota 74, Storm 72
There hasn't been much offense in overtime, with the Storm scoring just a single basket. Minnesota leads 74-72 on a pair of Rebekkah Brunson free throws but the Storm will have possession with 1:11 to play after a replay review confirmed that Sue Bird's shot was blocked out of bounds.
LJ Forces OT!
End Regulation: Minnesota 70, Storm 70
What a wild finish to regulation here at the Key. Taj McWilliams-Franklin missed the second of two free throws, giving the Storm a narrow opening. With no timeouts remaining, the Storm ran a play for Sue Bird coming to the top of the key. Minnesota defended it well, so Bird threw back to Lauren Jackson, who stepped into a rhythm triple attempt from the right win and knocked it cold to tie the game at 70. Minnesota, also out of timeouts, could only attempt a desperation shot with 1.1 second remaining.
The Storm won its only overtime game during the regular season while the Lynx were 2-0. Keep an eye on foul trouble. McWilliams-Franklin has five fouls; Shekinna Stricklen, who has five for the Storm, will start the extra session on the bench.
Storm Has to Get Help
Fourth Quarter: Minnesota 69, Storm 67
The Storm went scoreless for nearly three minutes, allowing the Lynx to build a four-point lead on a pair of Lindsay Whalen free throws. Sue Bird finally broke the slump with a jumper off a designed play to get the Storm back within two. However, with just 12.0 seconds remaining and no more timeouts, the Storm will need either to force a turnover on the inbounds pass or for Minnesota to miss a free throw to have a shot at tying or winning the game.
Need a Score
Fourth Quarter: Minnesota 67, Storm 65
The Lynx are back on top with 34.9 seconds remaining after a long possession that included a pair of offensive rebounds. The second belonged to Rebekkah Brunson, who went back up with a little floater in traffic to give Minnesota a two-point advantage. The Storm has taken timeout before getting possession and has one remaining.
Fourth Quarter: Storm 65, Minnesota 65
A Rebekkah Brunson putback has equalized the game with 1:28 left on the clock. Sue Bird will check in at this 20-second timeout for the Storm, which has possession.
Fourth Quarter: Storm 65, Minnesota 63
For the first time in the second half, the Storm leads. Camille Little's running lefty layup has given the home team a 65-63 advantage with 3:09 to play and drawn a Cheryl Reeve timeout. The Storm still has all three of its stoppages remaining as we head into the stretch run, while Minnesota now has two remaining.
Little, who missed much of the first three quarters with foul trouble, has been the freshest player on the court as both teams struggle to score against terrific defenses. The Lynx has been limited to just four points in nearly seven minutes of the fourth quarter thus far, which is a terrific defensive effort.
After getting a break, Lauren Jackson will be back on the floor for the final three minutes. Sue Bird is getting a quick rest right now.
Foul Trouble a Factor
Fourth Quarter: Minnesota 62, Storm 61
One of the unfortunate things about this physical game is that fouls have been accumulating, making foul trouble an issue on both sides. Shekinna Stricklen and Taj McWilliams-Franklin are on the bench with five apiece, while three Storm players have foul fouls, as does Maya Moore. Hopefully the best players on both sides will be able to decide this game down the stretch. Another area of concern is that the Storm already has four team fouls to Minnesota's two, meaning the Lynx will shoot free throws the rest of the way.
Those factors aside, the Storm has controlled the fourth quarter thus far. Lauren Jackson continues to be enormous in the paint. She's got 13 rebounds, which is four shy of her playoff career high. Jackson will get a brief rest out of this timeout before playing the stretch run. Seimone Augustus has proven tough to stop on the Minnesota side, scoring 14 points in the third quarter alone and 19 for the game.
Storm, LJ Find a Rhythm
End Third Quarter: Minnesota 59, Storm 53
Great sign for the Storm as Lauren Jackson got going after checking back in to the game late in the third quarter. She got a layup off a nice designed play, then knocked down a jumper. Jackson has nine boards tonight in a gritty performance. Led by Jackson, the Storm has climbed back within six points and given this crowd plenty to cheer about as we head to the dramatic final period with the Storm needing a comeback to extend the season.
During the quarter break, this year's Stormy Award was presented to Katie Smith, who dominated the voting with her performance as Mary Katherine Gallagher from Superstar in a Movie Magic this season. Smith accepted the award during a taped speech, reminding her teammates they didn't know they were going up against a "superstar!"
Storm Struggling Since Break
Third Quarter: Minnesota 51, Storm 42
As in Game 1 at Minnesota, the Lynx has opened up its lead after halftime. The Storm came out of the locker room looking to establish Lauren Jackson in the paint, but was unable to execute. Jackson is now on the bench with Ann Wauters in the middle. Still, the larger problem is at the defensive end of the floor, where Minnesota has scored 14 points in a little over four minutes. Head Coach Brian Agler will look to tighten up the D with this timeout.
As part of tonight's crowd, it's great to have Sonics legends Slick Watts and Lenny Wilkens in attendance with us. Both Watts and Wilkens are seated courtside with Storm President & CEO Karen Bryant enjoying the action.
Halftime: Minnesota 37, Storm 36
During halftime, Storm fans are enjoying The Magic of J.P. Wilson, who is making his first appearance here in Seattle. The performance was a lot of fun, but sadly J.P. was unable to make Maya Moore disappear for the second half. That would have been helpful for the Storm.
Half of Runs
Halftime: Minnesota 37, Storm 36
Two long runs dominated the first half. The Storm directly followed Minnesota's 16-0 run with a 15-3 surge of its own. The result is this game is basically even as we hit halftime. The Lynx holds a one-point advantage after Tanisha Wright knocked down a pair of free throws on the Storm's final possession. Wright has been the biggest contributor for the Storm with 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting and five free throws in as many attempts. Her teammate in the backcourt, Sue Bird, is also 4-of-5 from the field and has nine points and three assists. Katie Smith has scored seven points and, while Lauren Jackson is scoreless on the field, she's been huge on defense with six rebounds and a couple of blocks (officially just one).
Turnovers continue to be an issue for the Storm, which had 10 of them in the first half, but the team also managed to force seven turnovers defensively and is holding Minnesota to 38.7 percent shooting from the field. Again, the Storm has a surprising advantage on the glass, coming up with five offensive rebounds to the Lynx's two. That's about the only factor where this game isn't strikingly different from Friday's Game 1, so it's anybody's guess how that will all translate in the second half. What we do know is it will be an intense 20 minutes of basketball as the Storm looks to extend the series.
Second Quarter: Minnesota 31, Storm 24
All of a sudden, the Storm has found a rhythm on offense and is getting stops too. Those two factors are related - when the Storm can keep the Lynx out of transition and force them to play against a set defense, the chances of getting a stop are much better. Sue Bird has been a factor, scoring a couple of buckets during the run to give her seven points for the game - one shy of her total during Friday's Game 1.
Now it's Cheryl Reeve that needs a timeout with the #StormCrazies becoming a factor in this game.
Storm Can't Get Anything Going
Second Quarter: Minnesota 29, Storm 18
Early timeout from Head Coach Brian Agler after a play where Devereaux Peters blocked Lauren Jackson's shot. Jackson wanted a foul, as did the crowd, but no whistle came as the Lynx streaked the other direction for a Maya Moore layup in transition.
It's now a 14-0 Lynx run and the Storm simply can't get anything going offensively. The turnovers that were a problem for the team late in the regular season have reared their ugly head again, with the Storm giving the ball away five times during the first quarter. Minnesota is too good to give the Lynx extra shots at the basket and hope to win this game.
Technical Changes Momentum
End First Quarter: Minnesota 27, Storm 18
Sometimes, a technical can fire up a team and a home crowd and spark a run. The opposite seemed to happen to the Storm after Katie Smith drew a technical midway through the first quarter with the Storm leading 18-15. Minnesota scored the quarter's final 12 points to take a nine-point lead to the second period. Frustration seemed to set in with referees after the Lynx drew eight free throw attempts to the Storm's two.
Possibly looking for a spark, Brian Agler inserted Svetlana Abrosimova for her first game action since spraining her right wrist on Sept. 18 against Chicago.
"She's an energizer bunny," Agler said before the game. "She comes in and makes things happen. You just hope the things she makes happen are good things."
Wright Energizes Storm
First Quarter: Storm 13, Minnesota 12
Terrific start for Storm guard Tanisha Wright, who has lived up to her nickname of "tenacious" with her aggressive play in the first five-plus minutes. Wright had an offensive rebound on the first play to set the tone for the Storm, one of multiple for her. She's scored a game-high six points and also had a nice dish to Camille Little for a score a moment ago. Another good early sign was Sue Bird making her first shot, a three-pointer.
On the other side, it's obvious that Cheryl Reeve encouraged her team to get more looks in the paint tonight. The Lynx are putting their heads down and driving, which has translated into good shot attempts. That's why, despite the Storm's energy, Rebekkah Brunson is at the free throw line with a chance to tie the game. Reeve also wanted to make sure her team focused on the glass after the early Storm offensive rebounds, walking up and down the bench telling players that guards have to rebound.
For this crucial game, the Storm will have all 11 players available and without limitation. That includes reserve wing Svetlana Abrosimova, who is coming back from a sprained right wrist and did not play in Game 1.
"She could have probably played the other night, but just didn't get in the rotation," said Storm Head Coach Brian Agler.
Sue Bird, who missed three games late in the regular season with a strained left hip flexor, is clearly playing at less than 100 percent but will continue to play through her ailments.
"I'm just going to say the same thing I said after the game the other night," Agler said. "The one thing we know about Sue Bird - you can take this to the bank - is she is going to give you everything she can."
Lauren Jackson's minutes are not limited, but Agler said yesterday he expects her to see around 25-30 minutes of action after playing a season-high 27 on Friday.
Welcome to the 2012 WNBA Playoffs! The Storm hosts the Minnesota Lynx in tonight's Game 2, needing a win to extend the series and force a deciding Game 3 on Tuesday in Minnesota After a competitive performance on Friday at the Target Center, the team is confident it can play better with a home crowd full of #StormCrazies behind them. With the intensity of the playoffs upon us, it should be a great game, so stay with us all night long for the latest.