STORM WINS: Wright and Bird were awesome in the final minutes. And Seattle regain its focus to pull out a 91-84 win. This is probably the biggest win of the year simply because the Storm played a close one and won without Jackson. Give credit to Katie Gearlds for Bird’s shooting she told the PG to “use your legs more” in the second half and that helped Bird get rolling. Wright led the team with 25 points while Bird added 24. Little had a career-high 15 boards and Cash had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. I wouldn’t want to see Atlanta again, even with Jackson. That’s a good team and McCoughtry’s collegiate balls have only grown bigger. May need to rethink my ROY pick. Well, Seattle is off to NYC on Sunday, practicing at the Garden on Monday.
STORM ROLL: Now the Storm is crackin’. They are on a 6-0 run, forcing turnovers and getting offensive boards, to pull ahead 86-80 with 1:45 remaining in the second overtime.
LITTLE ADD: Well, Bird dished the ball to Little, who made a jumper that bounced in the bucket to tie the game at 80 points apiece. Because Lyttle missed her reply at the buzzer — directly under the hoop — the game is going into a second overtime.
BIRD CALL: Slipping behind a screen on the right side of the court, Bird nailed another clutch three-pointer to tie the score at 73 points apiece. McCoughtry couldn’t get anything working on the other end with 19.3 seconds left, sending the game into the Storm’s fourth OT game of the season. Yeah, Bird is an MVP candidate.
TURNOVER: Well the rookie, McCoughtry, got one back on Cash. She stole the in-bound pass and Atlanta has the ball. They called a 20-second timeout. McCoughtry screamed and practically danced all over the Storm logo in celebration after the turnover call was made. Seattle down one with 23.1 on the clock.
HMMM: Cash forced Lyttle into a traveling call, so Seattle has the ball with 28.9 seconds left. The Storm has a chance. Agler called a 20-second timeout.
IT’S A BIRD: Back-to-back scores by Bird pulled the Storm with 71-70 with 50.2 remaining. I doubt they win this one though because the Storm isn’t getting any stops. De Souza, Lyttle, McCoughtry, and Castro Marques are pains.
BRAZILIAN TEARS II: De Souza went to the bench in tears after fouling Little. She may have been popped in the eye, but Izzy told trainers she was fine. De Souza is just sitting on the bench whipping away tears, putting an ice pack on her left eye. Dream ahead 54-53 with 37.5 left in the quarter.
PUSH IT: Grabbing a defensive rebound, PeeWee bolted down court to complete a two-point play with A-Rob for the bench’s first points in the game. The bucket brought the Key to its feet, again, and pulled Seattle within 52-53 with 1:25 remaining in the third quarter. Atlanta called a timeout.
GET IT WRIGHT: The Dream opened the third quarter on a 9-2 run to build a 42-35 lead before Wright slipped into the paint for a layin to help ignite the Storm. Seattle looks a little flat. They’ve known about Jackson for a while and went through this last season, so I’m surprised at the response. Perhaps they don’t know Phoenix is in a tight one with Connecticut, so first is possible. Atlanta up 44-41 with 4:49 remaining in the third.
END OF HALF: The game is tied at 33 points apiece. Seattle is giving up way too many offensive rebounds (11), which Atlanta has turned into a 15-4 second-chance shot advantage. The Storm has also given up nine turnovers, which Atlanta cashed in for 10 points. Izzy has been shutdown, though. Too bad Atlanta has a bench to draw from while Seattle’s is scoreless in using A-Rob, Batgirl, and Pee-Wee.
CASH PAYS: Assisted by some big-time rebounding by Little, Cash scored on three consecutive possessions to help pull the Storm back ahead 31-29 with 2:50 remaining in the half.
SPOTTED: Microsoft bigwig Steve Ballmer is seated courtside with the Storm owners. He had an offer on the table to help return the NBA to Seattle and there are rumors that other deals are in the works. Also recognized was former Storm guard Sheryl Swoopes, who recieved a long standing ovation and a replay of her “Swoopes there it is” tag song.
NEVER OLD: KeyArena gave a standing ovation to Force 10 Hoops, the Storm’s ownership group that corralled the team from being relocated to Oklahoma City. This ovation was after a video talking about how the sale came to be in documenting historical moments in the organization’s past 10 years. Game tied at 22 points apiece with 6:13 remaining in the opening half.
BIRD SHOVE: Yeah, ah Bird might want to chill on the no-foul calls whining. She just two-handed shoved Coco Miller to the ground to get an in-bound pass. Even KeyArena went “Whoa!” along with the Atlanta bench. But Davis, who was right there, swallowed her whistle. Seattle up 22-18 with 7:49 remaining.
END OF FIRST: Remember when a live DJ would scratch the record? That’s the feel of this game. Very staccato and sputtering. But, somehow, it’s working for Seattle. They lead 20-14 at the end of the opening quarter, shooting 40 percent from the field. Cash leads with seven points and Burse has added six. Castro Marques said rebounding and getting out to run is what has been working for the Dream. Well, they aren’t able to do that tonight and Lehning is having trouble running a halfcourt offense against the Storm’s defense. Izzy leads with eight.
BRAZILIAN TEARS: Izzy was presented flowers and honored for being selected as part of the Storm’s All-Decade team. The ovation made her tear up. Earlier she said the fans are always what she thinks of when remembering Seattle. She requested 20 tickets. “I was very surprised and happy to be included,” Castro Marques said. “The fans, they liked me.” Seattle up 16-10 with 3:18 remaining.
SAY IT: McCoughtry spent a few minutes pregame insisting (and that’s putting it nicely) that the KeyArena public address announcer pronouncer her name correctly. She’s brassy for a rookie, but Cash schooled her when she tried to dribble down court and fake a a crossover for a layin. Instead, Cash tipped the ball away, Mc-CAW-tree ended on her rump and Cash converted the defensive stop into a layin with7:33 left in the opening quarter. Seattle’s up 9-4 at the 6:44 mark.
Another final stretch to end the regular season. Another final run without Storm F Lauren Jackson. The two-time MVP is out without indefinitely with a stress fracture in her lower back on the right side. The injury was discovered on Friday when Jackson underwent a bone scan after practice.
The team’s leading scorer (19.2), Jackson said the injury was suffered in an 11-point loss to Atlanta earlier this month. But the Dream is in town tonight and none remember the incident that occurred at the end of the game.
“I just remember her lighting us up,” said a team representative of Jackson’s 25 points.
Jackson continued to play but her minutes dipped from 34 in a road win against Detroit to a season-low 18 in a home win against Washington. Jackson played 30 on Thursday in a win against Connecticut, but said the injury was almost unbearable.
According to Agler, the team didn’t do anything wrong in playing the star after she suffered the injury. Tests are inconclusive about the injury. The coach said there is some history of damage in the area and there are “a couple of hotspots.”
But she’s definitely not being benched in preparation for the postseason.
“We’ve had her looked at six or seven times and it’ll happen again tonight,” said Agler of Jackson’s various visits to a back specialist, chiropractor, and team doctor. She’s in attendance tonight. “It was pretty trying yesterday, but she’s the ultimate competitor. Sorting all that out, now it’s to the point where let’s find out exactly what we’re dealing with and we’ll go from there.”
Jackson will not travel with the team when it goes on a three-game road trip against New York, Washington, and Minnesota. The hope is she can rehabilitate the back and return. The Storm, which already clinched a playoff berth, would basically have to lose all of its games and San Antonio would have to continue winning for Seattle to place fourth in the West.
I’ve been warned that a section of Brazilians will be down on my end of KeyArena for the game tonight. Of course they’re here to support Iziane Castro Marques, now of Atlanta Dream fame.
Castro Marques was a popular player in her three years in Seattle, getting traded to Atlanta by coach Brian Agler in a deal that ultimately brought All-Star MVP Swin Cash to the Storm. Castro Marques was named to Seattle’s All-Decade team, however, and will be honored prior to the matchup tonight.
The Brazilian shooter is on a tear, helping the Dream go 7-3 in their past 10 games. Castro Marques has averaged 20.0 points on 47 percent shooting in her past five games. And a lot of the reason why she has lit it up is because Atlanta is without veteran F Chamique Holdsclaw, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on Monday.
The Dream have an opportunity to make one of those Detroit-type turnarounds, going from worst to a near first in the Eastern Conference. As an expansion team last summer, Atlanta barely mustered four wins, losing at Seattle to end their season.
Atlanta is currently second in the East at 15-13. But even with Detroit’s overtime loss to San Antonio today, nothing is certain in the conference.
Agler already is leary about the Dream, losing to the potent team by 11 points earlier this month. He noted that Atlanta can score quickly in bunches, “I hope we don’t see that tonight.”
Storm C Janell Burse is starting in place of Jackson, giving Seattle a different look. We’ll see if there’s a chance in demeanor without Jackson or if they continue on the road to possibly overtake Phoenix for first in the West. It’s a feasible goal, especially since the Storm hosts the Mercury for their final home game in September.
But tonight it’s about the Dream.
Here’s tonight’s starters:
F Angel McCoughtry
F Sancho Lyttle
C Erika de Souza
G Shalee Lehning
G Iziane Castro Marques
F Swin Cash
F Janell Burse
C Camille Little
G Sue Bird
G Tanisha Wright
Tonight’s officials are Camaron Inouye, Tony Dawkins, and Penny Davis.