AHEM: You can’t really say something is up because the Storm is leading, but there’s a little free throw disparity. Seattle is 2 of 4 from the line to Sacramento’s 16 of 23. Turnovers are killing the Storm, again, as the Monarchs work their way back into the game. Despite foul trouble, Agler is putting Jackson (five) back in the game with Bird. Seattle leads 54-53 with 5:37 remaining.
BIG T: It took a lot of work, including a reset of the offense, but Wright grabbed an offensive rebound and then gathered the ball to hit a three-pointer at the end of the third quarter. Seattle was 1-of-10 from the field prior to the big shot. They lead 48-42. Seattle is 8-for-17 from three-point range.
NOW SCREAM: Arco is back to its loud self, following a nice outside jumper by Brunson to help pull the team within 45-42 with 1:25 remaining in the third quarter. They broke their drought at the 7:30 mark.
SHHHH!: Arco Arena is unusually quiet. Blame it on Seattle’s 16-4 run in the third quarter. Sacramento hasn’t even hit a FG in this half. Their last was at the 33-second mark in the second. After DeMya Walker hit a free throw, Seattle leads 41-34.
FOUL TROUBLE: Storm opened the second half on 7-0 run, but is slowly getting into foul trouble with the frontline. Little and Jackson have four apiece. Good thing Seattle has depth and KG is hitting three-pointers. After her last, Seattle is up 35-31 with 5:53 remaining.
HALFTIME: An impressive quarter by the Storm was litterally tossed away in the waning minutes. Turnovers and missed high-percentage shots led to Seattle trailing 29-25 at the break. It added up to an 8-0 Sacramento run to end the half. Jackson is the leading scorer for Seattle at nine. The Monarchs are balanced with Lawson and Penicheiro scoring five points apiece.
WHOA KARA!: OK, just like that, Sacramento is 3-for-3 from the field to take a 28-25 lead with 29.4 left. Lawson is hitting shots and hopping around like a bunny in a field. How did it happen? Well, turnovers by Wright and a missed bunny by Johnson. You can’t sleep on the Monarchs.
SHOOTING BREAK: Seattle’s getting some shots to fall. They had to increase their intensity to match Sacramento. Buckets by Gearlds and Wright have put them ahead 25-21 with 2:38 remaining before the break. Wright has seven points and Jackson leads with nine. The Storm is on a 13-6 run in last four minutes, making five of last six. Sacramento is 2-of-10.
KG 4 THREE: Gearlds hit a three-pointer off a pass from Bird to give Seattle a 20-18 lead. The team’s first lead since the opening bucket.
KG SEES: Katie Gearlds spotted Jackson cutting toward the hoop for another layin. It was the best the offense has moved this afternoon. Seattle is within 18-17 with 5:33 remaining before the half. Monarchs hurting themselves with 10 turnovers for 10 Seattle points.
SPOTTED: Sacramento mayor and former NBA star Kevin Johnson is seated courtside with the Maloofs ownership and UFC fighter Chuck Lidell.
END OF FIRST: Agler played everyone available, looking for some offense and stops on defense. Jackson leads with seven points and Cash has two rebounds. Seattle is down 14-12, shooting 26.3 percent to Sacramento’s 42.9.
OI! OI! OI!: Sorry, no one can defended Jackson’s turnaround. She just hit another to pull the Storm within 11-10. Yet, the two-time MVP can’t be the Storm’s only offense. She’s 3-of-4 from the field and everyone else is 2-of-12.
WALKER IN: As Sacramento put Lawson and Rebekkah Brunson in the game, two who are returning from knee injuries along with DeMya Walker, Agler put rookie Walker in the game.
ICE COLD: Seattle is getting pushed around and isn’t making its shots. They only trail 11-8, but are shooting 21.4 percent from the field with 3:27 remaining in the opening quarter.
SPOTTED: Former Storm and Monarch guard Edna Campbell is seated courtside.
RED HOT: Storm coach Brian Agler said he wasn’t concerned about having 10 players, joking something odd like six people fouling out would have to happen. Jackson is close. She picked up two quick ones, moving Agler to spend part of a timeout gripping at the officials. He wants the team to attack the Monarchs defense more, but the Storm is hanging outside. Cash and Burse are in, Seattle down 9-8 with 5:36 remaining.
FLASHBACK: In the Storm’s inaugural game the Storm was swatted around and 10 years later it’s no different. On the jump ball, Bird was thrown to the ground by Robinson and no call was made. Actually over-and-back was called, but that’s not what Bird wanted. Jackson hit the first bucket, another flashback. An Aussie scoring the Storm’s initial points. It was Katrina Hibbert in 2000.
HEY WALKER: It’s Storm rookie Ashley Walker’s home debut. Well, as close as she’ll get to her Modesto base. Walker starred at California and a host of her former teammates, friends, and family made the trip to see her play, screaming during her player introduction. She’s the only rookie on the Storm roster this season.
RED SEA: The Monarchs sells red shirts with its logo, but some fans are wear old Houston gear from the WNBA Finals and such to honor the folded dynasty. The WNBA disbanded the Comets in December and fans started an internet movement to have fans wear red at home openers to recognize the team. Storm coach Nancy Darsch is wearing a red shirt under a black blazer, I’ll check later to see if she was playing along.
From rowing to minor-league baseball, there’s a lot going on to compete with the sports entertainment dollar today. There’s even a UFC matchup scheduled for Sunday. Yet, fans looking to beat the heat and see some good basketball will drop by Arco Arena the Monarchs’ season-opener against the Storm. Some were even tailgating outside the arena.
The Monarchs have battled injuries. Only in speaking with G Kara Lawson prior to tip-off, she’s ready to test her knee. She rejoined practice this week and will play, according to Sacramento coach Jenn Boucek.
“My first two practices were Thursday and Friday,” Lawson said. “I made it through those and I’m optimistic about how it’ll respond to playing today. I’m just going to be in communication with Coach about how it’s feeling out there. I don’t have a guess on how much I’ll play or how effective I’ll be, I’m just going to play it by ear.”
The Storm is as healthy as it can be right now, with F Swin Cash (back) working out in warm ups and looking good. C Janell Burse (shoulder) was also on the court and will see minutes today.
In fact, the only thing currently broke is the switchboard for the Storm’s radio broadcast. They’re on it now and it’s still about 30 minutes prior to tipoff, so I’m sure you’ll still be able to tune in on KKNW (1150AM).
Here’s your starting lineup:
F Camille Littler
F Tanisha Wright
C Lauren Jackson
G Shannon Johnson
G Sue Bird
F Nicole Powell
F Crystal Kelly
C Laura Harper
G Scholanda Robinson
G Ticha Penicheiro
Today’s officials are Clarke Stevens, Shelley Nakasone, and Byron Jarrett.