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July 10, 2008 at 11:46 AM

Mercury game thread

STORM WINS: Behind a game-high 25-points from LJ, the Storm collected their 11th win at KeyArena, 89-78. Seattle has one last game with Jackson in the lineup prior to the Olympics — Saturday against Los Angeles. Did you know phenom Candace Parker scored 40 last night? It could be good and it’ll be on TV. The crowd is already booing the Sparks when they were mentioned during the post-game interview with Cash.
CALLING IT: Agler has placed all of his reserves in the game, including Kristen O’Neill, who continues to receive standing ovations from the KeyArena crowd. The coach talked about what he’d like to see from KO in the final games and it’s along what he saw in the Minnesota win, but he’d like her to be aggressive while running the offense. He said there’s a “strong possibility” she could be signed for the remainder of the season.
ANOTHER VIOLATION: Make that five three-second violations for Seattle.
SMITH OUT: Guess Smith isn’t much of a difference maker. She fouled out with 6:43 remaining and the Storm ahead 76-57 after a bevy of three-pointers by KG and Bird. Smith, who missed all seven of her shot attempts, missed the last matchup between the teams at Key due to a knee injury. Today she finished with two points and five rebounds.
NEEDING PUNCH: The positive is the Storm’s defense is still clicking, holding the Mercury well below their average (88 points), but you’d think it would be a little more exciting watching Seattle deny another team at the Key. It’s not. The Storm has made tacky errors that have slowed the game down a lot. A three-pointer by KG with 18.7 remaining in third sparked some life in the arena. Seattle leads 62-51 headed into the final quarter.
ANOTHER VIOLATION: It’s a lame call because teams constantly camp in the paint, but the Storm has been called four times for three-second violations. Jackson must have lead feet today in addition to a missing shot. And Phoenix is normally a favorite matchup of hers. Anyway, Seattle still leads 53-47 with 2:26 remaining in the third quarter.
SHE SCORES: It was a difficult shot in traffic, but Jackson finally got her first FG to go down with a layin off an assist from Bird with 6:27 remaining in the third quarter. She has 11 points and five boards to help the Storm build a 48-42 lead. Griffith continues to be a workhorse underneath and Cash is playing solid defense.
WRIGHT STUFF: With a Wright three-pointer as the shot-clock wound down, the Storm takes a 37-31 lead into the break. Phoenix walked off with irked faces as things aren’t working well for the visitors. Smith is 0-for-4 from the field and Taurasi is 2-for-8. Wright leads the Storm with nine points while Griffith is at eight with five boards. My favorite halftime show is up, Dodge Ball with the Kids vs. Mascots!
COFFEE PLEASE: Teams have shoot-around at this hour, but the Storm is looking like they missed their morning java. They’ve had three offensive three-second violations and have completely goofed on three possible offensive rebounds, although the team does lead Phoenix 21-16 in rebounding. But is anyone expecting the Mercury to grab a board? Didn’t think so. The mental lapses have allowed Phoenix to hang close at 28-27 with 2:33 remaining before the half. Griffith is a burst of energy, however, scoring a team-high eight points with four boards.
O-FOR?: LJ’s streak of scoring in double-digits of the opening quarter of her past three games is 21.7 seconds from ending. She’s 0-for-4 from the field, finishing with two points off of free throws. The Storm closed the opening quarter ahead 20-15, getting a go-ahead three-pointer from Bird and nifty layin from Wright. Pondexter is on fire, though, shooting 4-for-9 from the field, making jumpers with the 6-foot-5 Jackson in her face. Nice.
TIE GAME: Cash just tied the score at 13 points apiece, making one of two FT attempts. There’s 2:01 remaining in the opening quarter and Katie Gearlds just checked into the game.
NBA Friends: Bremerton native Marvin Williams (Atlanta) is catching the game, seated behind the Phoenix bench in all black. He seems to be looking at the scoreboard with a puzzled glare, could be because the Storm is down 11-8 after two inside buckets from Griffith. Phoenix is shooting 62.5 percent, but the Storm is starting to force some turnovers to inch back into the game.
FINAL OLYMPIANS NAMED: Team USA named the final three spots to its active roster, giving the nod to DeLisha Milton-Jones (Los Angeles), Tamika Cathcings (Indiana) and Kara Lawson (Sacramento). Cash was notified last week that she would not be named to the group and is still working with the Storm to see if she’s able to attend the Games as a commentator for flagship station NBC.
Well, Storm coach Brian Agler’s ulcers are thanking the WNBA for today’s afternoon game. He joked that the positive of having a matinee is that he can’t “sit around all day worrying about the game” and over thinking matchups.
“It just hits,” he said. “But you’d like to have a couple of practices before hand. They [Phoenix] score so easily that it’s hard to even simulate in practice.”
The Mercury is at full-strength with Tangela Smith (knee) and Cappie Pondexter (knee) in the lineup. And they’ll surely put on a show for the throng of kids in attendance with their league-leading scoring (88.5). Phoenix also gets a little help inside from newcomer Le’coe Willingham.
The kids are part of the league’s annual pitch to day-campers. A second of KeyArena’s upper deck is open and all of the groups are in colorful identifiable T-shirts. The youngsters will also help Doppler celebrate his birthday.
Storm F Sheryl Swoopes will start tonight, moving reserve guard Tanisha Wright back to the bench. Swoopes suffered from a swollen left knee, missing Tuesday’s road win in Sacramento.
Here are your starting lineups:
F Swin Cash
F Lauren Jackson
C Yolanda Griffith
G Sheryl Swoopes
G Sue Bird
F Diana Taurasi
F Le’coe Willingham
C Tangela Smith
G Cappie Pondexter
G Kelly Miller
Today’s officials are Clarke Stevens, Felicia Grinter, and James Williams.



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