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July 25, 2007 at 7:59 AM

One-woman show?

There seems to be pattern falling into place as the Storm enters the final stretch of the season: Let All-Star Lauren Jackson score all of the points and everybody else play defense or get the Aussie the ball.
After watching her 47-point spectacle, who could really argue? It was gorgeous. The Verizon Center hecklers, who had never experienced such a show in the arena’s history, turned into supporters with shouts like, “Jackson, damn you nasty!” She made her signature turnaround jumper, drove the paint for layins, hit a couple of runners and had her own 7-0 run at one point.
During timeouts, Jackson bent over and heaved for her life, but when Storm coach Anne Donovan asked if she needed a breather, Jackson brushed her off. She was, as Mystics All-Star DeLisha Milton-Jones said, “en fuego,” and not leaving the game because the Storm had yet (and wouldn’t) take a lead larger than three points.
Trailing 34-23 after Mystics guard Monique Currie hit a wide-open short jumper, Seattle outscored Washington 17-6 in the final 6:11 of the second quarter to tie the score at 40 points apiece heading into halftime.
This is where it all broke down. The players came out flat after halftime — again. This time they gave up 31 points to a team known for second-half surges.
“That killed us,” Jackson said. “We haven’t been good in the third quarter ever this season.”
Donovan’s response was to bench guard Betty Lennox and center Janell Burse, who were not mentally there and Burse had foul trouble. It left Jackson with one less post player to get help defense from inside as Milton-Jones played the Aussie’s game, scoring 17 of her final 22 points after halftime by driving right back at Jackson.
“I felt I needed to be the aggressor and attack the rim,” Milton-Jones said. “She was scoring like this? I need to go right back at her because I know that defensively, her being that tall (6-foot-5), she shouldn’t be able to stay in front of me off the dribble. So I just put the ball on the floor, put my head down and got to the rim.”
It’s one nitpick you could play on Jackson’s game. Or a reason why some lean toward Indiana forward Tamika Catchings for MVP.
Jackson is a supreme scorer and rebounder, but has yet to read the defenses around her to find open teammates to contribute offensively when she’s crowded. She had one assist against the Mystics and probably could have had more if she didn’t just look at the basket. Catchings, who’s out with a foot injury, had this versatile game where she passed, shot, stole, and rebounded the ball.
“They [Seattle] did need somebody else to help contribute, but when Lauren’s hot like that, get her the ball and you almost put the responsibility on her to make the right read,” Milton-Jones said. “Is this my time to shoot or is this my time to set somebody else up to make the defense not concentrate on me so much? Or burn the defense for concentrating on me like this? We had a collective effort as opposed to them just having one player having an outstanding night.”

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