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June 19, 2009 at 6:49 PM

Game thread: Minnesota at Seattle

STORM WIN: Seattle (4-2) defeated Minnesota (4-3) for the sixth consecutive time, 90-62 at KeyArena. Jackson led with 26 points and six steals while Bird had 10 assists. Joked with Bird about her teaching the posts how to throw the ball. In the opener, Jackson had a couple of dimes and one of the highlights on Friday was Burse’s bomb to Johnson for a FB layin to end the third quarter. Burse said it was Hasselbeck’s fault, he inspired her. “I’ve never been a bad passer,” said Burse, who finished with 14 points off the bench. “I’m glad I threw it with my right arm instead of my left.” Burse injured her left shoulder in 2007, missing the 2008 season to rehabilitate. Hasselbeck twitted after the game: “Dad & daughter night at Storm game. Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird got game.” Seattle will practice at home Saturday and then travel to play Phoenix (5-1), which defeated Los Angeles tonight to remain in first in the West.
HITTING THE REEF: Walker jokes that she hasn’t had her “rookie” moment since she was swatted by another rookie. But Montgomery just got hers. Batkovic-Brown set a hard pick that sent the diminutive PG to her rump. Seattle’s ahead 84-55 with 3:57 remaining.
STARTERS PULLED: Walker dribbling down court? Yeah, this game is over. Agler pulled his starters and has Batkovic-Brown, A-Rob, Katie Gearlds, and Johnson in the game against a mix of Lynx starters and reserves. Seattle is up 84-51 with 5:56 remaining in the game.
MIGHTY PEEWEE: Johnson said her sprained left knee is healthy after an extra day off and proved it with a driving layin against Quanitra Hollingsworth with 3.5 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Seattle ended the period ahead 80-47 and is on its way to topping its 2002 record for largest margin of victory — 41 points against Phoenix.
FIRE NO ICE: Agler and Wiggins, who’s dubbed “Ice,” exchanged technical fouls, both upset with the officiating. But Wiggins has been benched as her Lynx are getting trounced by Seattle. The Storm is up 69-44 and everyone is contributing. C Janell Burse has 10 points off the bench, Jackson has 24 and Bird has 10 assists. There’s 2:29 remaining in the third-quarter.
HALFTIME: With Ashley Robinson’s “Sky-Rob” hook shot acting as the highlight and Jackson’s three-pointers providing the FG bookends, the Storm went on a 19-3 run to take a 55-32 lead into the break. Anosike is in foul trouble with three and Minnesota hasn’t hit a FG since Hodges’ three-pointer with four minutes remaining in the second quarter. Seattle is shooting 72.7 percent from the field and has made all five of their three-point attempts. The Lynx are the more up-tempo designed squad, but they are getting out hustled 10-2 in fast break points. Wiggins also is in foul trouble with three. We’ll see what type of adjustments Minnesota makes. If it weren’t for the officials stopping the game, KeyArena would be blowing its top and running the Lynx out of the building themselves.
INJURY BREAK: Had to interrupt watching the Storm game to take a peak at the Los Angeles-Phoenix matchup. Center Lisa Leslie was taken to the the locker room in the first quarter with an apparent knee injury. No word has been released, but on Wednesday, Augustus suffered her knee injury against the Mercury. The Storm plays there Sunday.
BARRIER REEF: C Suzy Batkovic-Brown is making her home debut, entering the game with 6:10 remaining in the opening half. The crowd gave her a rousing applause. Seattle is ahead 39-29.
END OF FIRST: Jackson is being a monster inside the paint. She knocked Houston to the ground and has one block and three steals. Wish they kept stats on how many shots were altered like they do deflections in the NFL, because there’s a lot of that, too. But I guess deflections are more like blocks. Anyway, the Storm is shooting well, making all three three-point attempts. Minnesota isn’t playing bad, it’s just that Seattle is better to start. The Lynx are shooting 38.9 percent and outrebounding the Storm 10-7 (there aren’t many balls for Seattle to rebound, however, shooting 64.3 percent from the field.) Seattle led the quarter 31-19.
GOLDEN GLOBE: Not exactly Oscar worthy, but there was definitely some veteran trickery going on when PG Shannon Johnson drew a foul against rookie Renee Montgomery. Pinned on the sideline with the ball, Montgomery maneuvered to turn and make a pass. As she swiveled, her shoulder bumped Johnson, who fell flat to the ground. Any other time that type of “bump” wouldn’t even get Johnson, a PeeWee muscle woman, to step backward. Tonight, it drew a foul on Montgomery and an offensive turnover. Seattle is up 23-11 with 2:15 left in the first quarter.
GO HAWKS: Yeah, it’s Dad’s and Daughter’s night (Happy Father’s Day Pops. Card is in the mail, promise), but the Storm is finally drawing some (local) stars to the game. Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is courtside with his daughters. He could have easily checked out the Ms game tonight. Washington assistant women’s basketball coach Fred Applin is behind the score’s table. Also in attendance are the fathers of Bird and rookie Ashley Walker. Radio personality Dori Monson, mayoral candidate James Donaldson, a former Sonic, and former San Antonio LaToya Thomas, a close friend of Johnson’s, are also in attendance.
DEFENSE: Agler says the Storm’s offense starts with defense and it’s ringing true to start. Jackson collected a block and a steal on defense and turned them into offense for herself and the team. Seattle is up 12-2, shooting 71.4 percent with 6:45 remaining in the quarter.
If you’re getting a Groundhog Day vibe, don’t worry. You’re not the only one. The WNBA schedule has been odd this season with Seattle playing multiple Western Conference teams in either home-and-home sets or within a game of each other. The latest is Minnesota, which Seattle defeated last Friday.
The Lynx are playing without star and leader Seimone Augustus, who tore her left ACL in a loss at Phoenix on Wednesday. Storm coach Brian Agler said just because the Lynx are without their leading scorer (21.0), that doesn’t make the matchup any easier. He’s had two experiences with the situation, most recently defeating Minnesota last season when Yolanda Griffith (knee), Lauren Jackson (Olympic leave), and Sheryl Swoopes (concussion) were unable to play.
“Every team responds differently and a lot of that has to do with the team that’s at full-strength – how they focus on the game,” Agler said. “It also has something to do with the makeup of the people that are left on the team that everybody thinks is depleted.
“I just said this morning that we’re focusing on ourselves. And we’re focusing on the people that we’re going to play tonight. We’re not going to focus who is not here.”
Minnesota coach Jennifer Gillom said she’s going to start veteran Roneeka Hodges in place of Augustus, mainly because PF Charde Houston isn’t prepared to start at the SF slot. Houston hasn’t previously played the position, but could be moved over once the Lynx have time to practice.
The game is a test for Gillom. She’ll determine the urgency of adding an 11th player depending on how her team responds.
“I feel this team is talented enough that we can have a couple of players make up the difference,” she said. “If they can do a great job tonight and show me that this is enough then I’ll stick with it.”
Minnesota travels home to play New York and Phoenix at home on Tuesday and Saturday, respectively, next week. Seattle leaves tomorrow to play Phoenix on the road Sunday.
Here are tonight’s starters:
F Roneeka Hodges
F Charde Houston
C Nicky Anosike
G Candice Wiggins
G Kelly Miller
F Swin Cash
F Lauren Jackson
C Camille Little
G Sue Bird
G Tanisha Wright
Tonight’s officials are Kurt Walker, Amy Bonner, Cameron Inouye.



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