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June 12, 2009 at 4:56 PM

Game thread: Seattle at Minnesota

THE REAL STORM: OK, Bird finished with seven turnovers, but you’d let them slide if you saw her run the team tonight. The backcourt play was the difference late. Wright hit buckets, Bird made passes, and Cash played the kind of defense that would made Rodman envious. Seattle won 88-71 and is tied with the Lynx for first in the Western Conference. After Sunday’s game against Chicago, thanks to WNBA scheduling, Seattle will host Minnesota on Friday at KeyArena. We’ll see where the young team is at that point, playing their own brutal three-game trip (at Sacramento, Phoenix, and Seattle). Jackson led the Storm with her first double-double of the season (22 points and 11 boards). Wright had 17 points and seven assists while Bird finished with 15 and nine assists. Probably should have made Wright the POG since she only had one TO, but I’m sticking with Bird. Unlike Tuesday, when I was wondering where she flew off to, she was the QB tonight. SIDENOTE: Noticing that the Storm isn’t too celebratory after these games, which I really like. It’ll probably change once the postseason nears (or they beat LA), but it’s the sign of a veteran team. They understand while they have to get these wins, they haven’t done anything, yet.
SHHHHHH!: Wright said her three-pointer was hitting overseas and it has carried to the states. She just hit another to calm the Target Center crowd, which is getting excited by some improved Lynx play. Seattle leads 71-62 with 8:23 remaining in the game.
STARS DIMMED: Augustus is 2-for-9 from the field (six points) and Anosike is 2-for-6 (five). Seattle leads 60-44 with 3:33 remaining in the third.
PROBLEM FOUND: Houston hit a three-pointer and Augustus added a jumper to melt the Storm’s 8-0 run that did have them up 55-36. Now the lead is down to 55-41. You have to expect this type of response from the Lynx. We’ll see how Seattle responds out of this time out with 5:17 remaining in the third quarter.
NO PROBLEM HOUSTON: Houston is splitting through Jackson and Little double teams and hitting outside jumpers to help pull Minnesota within 47-36 in the third quarter.
HOLD ‘EM: Minnesota went on an 8-3 run to pull within 39-30 with 1:26 remaining before halftime after a jumper by Houston. But a bucket by Johnson, her first since the season-opener, put the Storm back up by double-digits. Seattle leads 42-30 at the break. Scoring for the Storm is pretty even with Burse leading with eight off the bench. Jackson has eight boards. Houston has seven points for the Lynx.
HOLD UP: Minnesota started bickering at themselves on the bench, but Gillon put an end to that. Despite C Janell Burse hitting one outside shot, the Lynx left her open again for another bucket. Burse also drove a layin to score, too. Add her forcing Anosike into a three-second call on defense and Minnesota is down 32-19 with 3:48 remaining in the second quarter.
BAT SPOTTED: Batkovic-Brown made her debut, starting the second quarter. She checked out at the 8:10 mark.
AS EXPECTED: Sparks G Betty Lennox may have been a crowd favorite in Seattle, but the difference in the this Lynx game compared to their win against Los Angeles is guard play. Seattle has better players running the ball and isn’t frazzled by Minnesota’s aggressive style. LA has long needed a true, proven PG to run with their Olympians. The Sparks are currently down in Indy and until they get one, I’m not sure they are going to be the champion everyone is predicting. (NOTE: Sparks coach Michael Cooper plans to run Candace Parker as a point forward. Can’t say anything definitive until the reigning MVP returns from maternity leave.) Seattle leads 20-11 and Bird has three of Seattle’s five assists. Minnesota has one assist.
SPOTTED: Former Lynx assistant Ed Prohofsky attended just his second game of the season. he was part of Don Zierden’s staff and did not remain once Zierden left to be an assistant for the NBA’s Washington Wizards. Sacramento Kings G Rashard McCants is seated courtside. His sister, Rashanda, is a rookie forward for Minnesota.
BREATHER: Seattle left the Minnesota fans standing for a while, looking for the Lynx’ first shot. But the game is rolling now. Seattle is up 14-6, using good defense and penetrating inside. Yeah, there have been some bobbled plays, but the Storm isn’t letting it get to them. A open layin by Burse forced Gillom to call time with 3:46 remaining in the opening quarter.
HALL THAT: Prior to the game the Lynx recognized new head coach Jennifer Gillom, who’ll be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday. Gillom plans to attend, making a one-day trip to Knoxville, Tenn. for the ceremony. She’ll be joined by her family, who also plan to celebrate her 45th birthday that day. Johnson is the only Storm player who played with Gillom in the WNBA. “Her fadeaway was unstoppable.,” Johnson said. Lynx COO Roger Griffith presented her with a framed picture of her first game as a head coach.
Tonight is a real test for both teams. Minnesota (3-0) is talking about how they’re different than last season, when the Lynx surprised the league and started 5-0. With just four players returning, their may be a different ambiance.
But Seattle (2-1) also needs this win. They were flat in Indiana, throwing 20 turnovers and letting a poor shooting Fever team grab 15 offensive rebounds to steal a win. Emphasizing defense again this season, the Storm needs to show it.
Storm coach Brian Agler is going to start Swin Cash in place of PG Shannon Johnson and will also use Australian C Suzy Batkovic-Brown off the bench. The battle will probably be between Cash and Minnesota star Seimone Augustus.
Since this will probably be a fast-paced one, let’s get right to it. Here are your starters:
F Swin Cash
F Lauren Jackson
C Camille Little
G Tanisha Wright
G Sue Bird
F Seimone Augustus
F Charde Houston
C Nicky Anosike
G Candice Wiggins
G Kelly Miller
Tonight’s officials are Roy Gulbeyan, James Breeding, and Metta Roberts.



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