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June 14, 2008 at 4:37 PM

Comets game thread

STORM LOSES: Tight quarters prevent me from getting the whole locker room experience, but talking to Swoopes, Bird, Jackson, and Agler outside was enough. The Storm is peeved about officiating and Agler said the league “will get some calls.” Talked to Houston coach Karleen Thompson about it and she gave the predictable, you’ve got to play through it response. She said her team focused on this game with its week of practice. The Comets also honed in on defense, collecting their second win of the season 68-60.
CALLING DEE KANTNER: Seriously, you have to take a look at this tape and evaluate this crew. I know Gulbeyan is one of your better dudes, but really? He just tossed a jump ball above Mabika’s head, making it easier for her to get possession on a jumpball against the 6-foot-5 Jackson. The two even laughed about it afterward, telling you there was an issue there. Then, there was the buzzer incident and a few other whoppers in this critical game. Not good for the league. I understand why Agler couldn’t keep his cool and was called for a late tech.
OFFICIALS MISS ANOTHER: One problem with this arena is that the buzzer is real light. That proved to be a problem when the shot-clock horn appeared to sound before Thompson made a three-pointer at the top of the key to pull the Comets ahead 62-58. Cash blocked Thompson’s first attempt, which Thompson recovered and flung at the hoop for the miraculous make. The crowd of 7,023 went nuts.
NOT MONEY II: The layins are giving Cash trouble as of late. Wright scored two quick buckets to pull the Storm close and a fast break layin by Bird made the score 59-55, but the Storm could have used the points from Cash. Seattle has not led and with 1:09 remaining the have the ball. Nope, they just turned it over.
THE WINNER IS: I’m giving dirtiest player to Mwadi Mabika. She’s pulling out all of the moves tonight and isn’t even really trying to hide it. Earlier, she did some warm-ups right in front of me and I thought she might say something about my earlier post. (I doubt she reads, but I know others in the league do and could have passed along word) I just smiled because I thankfully don’t have to play against the woman. Well, she’s taking it all out on the Storm, clothes lining Cash and Bird on fast breaks. The Storm is down 55-48 with 5:58 remaining in the game.
WRIGHT STUFF: If only the Storm could stop Thompson. Otherwise three-pointers from Jackson and aggressive layins by reserve Tanisha Wright had the Storm back in the game. I said had, because as I typed this entry, the Comets scored two buckets and outrebounded the Storm to pull back ahead 46-37. Snow has 16 boards, by the way, a season-high.
ROBINSON LIMPING: A-Rob is walking a little gingerly on her right foot as the third quarter starts. She’s still on the court, but missed a rebound and committed a foul that seemed to be because she’s favoring the foot. No baskets have been scored as of yet, just a lot of sloppy play.
OFFICIALS MISS ONE: F Sancho Lyttle clearly traveled with the basketball, grabbing a rebound and jumping twice without it being swatted or a dribble in between, and scored on a putback to make the score 29-25 at the break. The Storm is continuing the fourth-quarter trend from Friday, missing shots that could put them ahead. Hopefully that changes in the second half.
NBA FRIENDS: Haven’t spotted Steve Francis, who’s a normal regular at Comets games, but J.R. Smith is seated courtside. Franklin High alum and current Rocket G Aaron Brooks is also courtside with his daughter on his lap. Storm defense has picked back up and they only trail 27-20 with 2:56 remaining before halftime.
PASCALAU CHECKS IN: The Storm is using all of their players tonight in absence of Griffith. Seattle is shooting horribly at 20.6 percent, while the Comets have found their stroke and lead 21-13.
END OF FIRST QUARTER: There is some great defense going on from both teams, especially Johnson’s play on Bird. The Comets denied the Storm a final shot at the buzzer and lead 16-11. This matchup resulted in a one-point decision in favor of Seattle at KeyArena earlier this month and it looks like the same is going to happen tonight.
RADIO TROUBLES: Yeah, if radio sounds funny, that’s because the crew is delivering the call via cell phone. Like I said, things are different here. But you gotta give it to Dick Fain for his dedication. Adia Barnes is just chilling until the technical crew gets things going hopefully for the second half.
FEELING GREEN: Swoopes made her first bucket as a Storm on her old Comets court at the 5:51 mark of the opening quarter, a rebound putback off her own miss. Seattle is tied with Houston at six points apiece.
DIXON OUT: Should have mentioned earlier that Houston G Tamecka Dixon is out on personal leave.
FIRST DIS: While Swoopes received a rousing applause during the quick visitor introductions, one fan directly across from the bench held up a sign that read, “Sheryl Who?” And local media complained of her attitude last season, saying if they were a fan, they wouldn’t care about her return.
Storm C Yolanda Griffith will not start tonight due to soreness in her left knee and ankle. She suffered the injury in the opening half of Seattle’s loss to San Antonio on Friday. Storm coach Brian Agler said he would play Griffith is it were a significant game, such as the playoffs, but since it’s the second of a back-to-back set and early in the season, he’s going to be cautious.
Storm C Ashley Robinson will start in Griffith’s place. Robinson was feeling pain in her right Achilles on Friday, but told her coach she is feeling better today. The Storm may also have to dip deep to use Romanian Florina Pascalau.
Reliant Arena is real, hmm, different. You can see potential, but I’m told its normal use is a rodeo site and something else with horses. You can tell because the flies are everywhere. OK, that’s a slight exaggeration, but they’re really bothering the typing.
The Storm’s locker room looks like your average high school gym locker room. Nothing special and nothing unexpected because teams rarely treat visitors well. But Houston’s locker room, while featuring nice chairs and wooden lockers, it’s very tubular, too. The arena seats are orange and green. The Comets decorated by hanging the championship banners and retired jerseys. The standard “Make Some Noise” and player name banners are also sprinkled about to bring in the Comets blue and red coloring.
Storm F Sheryl Swoopes is taking shots while the arena fills with fans. Some are waving to her, possibly parts of the 25 friends and family she snagged tickets for. She’s not the only Houstonian making a homecoming, though. The New York Yankees are staying at the same hotel as the Storm and pitcher Andy Pettitte claims Houston as home, playing for the Astros from 2004-06.
Well, here are tonight’s starters:
F Swin Cash
F Lauren Jackson
C Ashley Robinson
G Sue Bird
G Sheryl Swoopes
F Hamche-tou Maiga-Ba
F Tina Thompson
C Michelle Snow
G Shannon Johnson
G Matee Ajavon
Tonight’s officials are Roy Gulbeyan, Amy Bonner, and Shelley Nakasone.



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