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June 26, 2009 at 6:44 PM

Game thread: Los Angeles at Seattle

CASHING IN: Thompson was not happy after the game, getting stripped in attempt to tie the score at the buzzer. Revenge on Sunday? You bet. But Seattle continues its home win streak, defeating the Sparks 69-67 before another sold-out crowd. LA is winless (0-5) on the road, despite using a 12-2 run late in the fourth quarter to get back into the game. Thompson led her team with 20 points while Jackson led all scorers with 32. Bad note? The bench was scoreless and the starters played some heavy minutes. Not good when you have to play the same team again in less than 48-hours.
BAD TIME: Will certainly try to get the story on why the Storm called a timeout with 5 seconds remaining and Bird with possession of the ball. After Jackson missed a FT, LA now has the ball and only trails 69-67 with three seconds remaining. Scary.
THUD: Thompson dropped to the court with a thud, leaving Jackson completely open under the hoop for a layin. It put Seattle ahead 66-61, but Thompson is the wrong player to irk. Little was just called for a foul against Milton-Jones, ending her night with six. Makeup call?
TIGHT GAME: The matchup is back to a struggle with LA going on a 8-0 run to tie the game at 59 points apiece off a turnaround jumper in Jackson’s face with 4:31 remaining. Equalizing baskets by Bird and Ferdinand-Harris tied the score again at 61, but KeyArena is popping after a three-pointer by Jackson at the top of the arch to make the score 64-61 with 2:59 left. Bird also took a charge on Lennox that got the place going. Teams are in a timeout.
GET YO TOES DID: To quote the KeyArena public address announcer, the nail polish contest concluded and the winner was A-Rob No. 43. “Get yo toes did,” he said of going to Julep Salon for a pedicure.
FOUL TROUBLE: KeyArena still doesn’t like the calls, but Milton-Jones is in foul trouble, sitting on the bench with five. Lennox is at the line, making two FTs to shrink the lead to 59-55 for Seattle. There’s 6:24 remaining. Plenty of time for LA to steal this one. Just like Noelle Quinn stole a Seattle pass and converted it into a layin to make the deficit two points.
BENCH SUPPORT: The Storm is grinding away, but the reserves aren’t offering any offense, aside from two assists from Johnson. The Sparks have pulled within 59-53 after two Thompson free throws and the inability to get the ball moving around is hurting Seattle. There’s 7:12 remaining in the game.
IT’S ON: Switching Little on Milton-Jones for defense was a smart move by Agler. Little isn’t taking any mess and isn’t allowing the lack of fouls called in her favor affect her game. Little just swatted and batted at Milton-Jones, who was waiting for a call, to collect a steal. Bird eventually collected the ball and tossed it down court to Wright for a fast break layin to put Seattle ahead 48-32. One of the better plays of the night. Seattle opened the third quarter on a 6-0 spurt.
ANOTHER MVP?: Should probably also mention that Jackson also is 8 of 8 from the field for 20 points. Seattle is shooting 51.9 percent from the field now and is in control of the game. If LA had four more Thompson’s this game might be closer. Officiating isn’t helping either. Milton-Jones is still going after Jackson, perhaps getting in a few shots for Leslie, and nothing is being called. Seattle leads 35-26 with 2:40 remaining in the half.
ANOTHER DPOY?: Jackson could be up for another Defensive Player of the Year award, collecting her 500th block by playing textbook, straight standing, arms raised defense in the paint. It muffled a Sparks shot and Seattle is ahead 29-20 with 4:43 remaining in the half.
LOVE THAT PURPLE: Members of the champion Washington softball team, including pitcher Danielle Lawrie, were given a standing ovation during a second-quarter timeout. Storm leads 27-20.
END OF FIRST: Still chippy on the court, but Seattle is fighting through it. Bird scored at the buzzer to give Seattle a 23-16 lead. Jackson may have a double-double by halftime. She’s cleaning up missed shots by Wright to lead the quarter with 11 points and five boards. Thompson, who looks like she could play another 10 years, leads her team with seven points.
TIME!: LA finally called timeout after a 8-0 Storm run that put the home team ahead 14-11 with 2:49 remaining in the half. Seattle was shooting 2 of 7 from the field. Bird and Cash are doing most of the work, Cash getting a block and scoring two baskets. LA is shooting 5 of 11 from the field (45.5 percent).
TOUGH D: Cash is getting hounded by Ferdinand-Harris, Milton-Jones is playing Jackson tight no one is really getting into a groove, yet. After a Lennox bucket, LA leads 8-6 with 5:02 remaining in the opening quarter.
GOLD SPLASH: Now, KeyArena gets the opportunity to see Lennox’s brother, Clarence, twice a season since she plays in the Western Conference. And the sprinkling of fans who were on hand early when he arrived with his partner gave him a warm welcome. Betty wanted her brother in purple and gold, but Clarence told me he had to stay true to the arena, going with a stripped gold-and-black ensemble, accented with yellow shoes to support both teams. Also in attendance is Atlanta star Marvin Williams (Bremerton) and Big Lo is back in the rotation.
There’s a serious Michael Jackson theme going on at KeyArena, honoring the King of Pop who passed on Thursday at the age of 50. The Storm players requested a number of his songs for pre-game warmups, taking the court to “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” and it’s frequent chatter among fans and team staff.
“I want my kids to know who he was,” said Storm guard Sue Bird, who added her favorite song is “Stranger in Moscow.” “I think I listened to that song 24/7 while playing Moscow. It’s the only song about Russia.”
Coincidentally, former Storm guard Betty Lennox returns for just the second time since leaving as an unprotected player in 2007. She was picked up via free agency by Los Angeles in April and the celebrity she said she most wanted to meet was Michael Jackson.
The Sparks sang an impromptu tribute mix of the star’s songs on the bus to practice when they learned of the news Thursday. And individually read more confirmation after the late session at the Storm’s training facility.
“I have his red jacket and everything, it’s just a sad day,” Lennox said. “It’s going to be a lot of sad days to come because Michael Jackson has touched a lot of people’s hearts. I’m very emotional about that. I watched it on T.V. and [was] really crying like it was my blood brother. It’s really devastating, it really is – heartbreaker to see someone of his caliber go down like that. He’s worldwide.”
Lennox, who did a few moves from “Thriller” for the print media, said her emotions for Jackson could impact her tonight. She’ll also be affected by the KeyArena crowd, which has historically been hostile to the Sparks, but drew Lennox to tears with its outpouring last season in her return with Atlanta.
The Sparks are without C Lisa Leslie (knee) and Candace Parker (pregnancy). But the team still boasts Olympians DeLisha Milton Jones and Tina Thompson among others. Storm coach Brian Agler said the team is focusing on who’s available and not who’s missing. And he expects LA to crowd PF Lauren Jackson as normal.
Sparks coach Michael Cooper also said little would change tonight.
“I like the way we’re playing as of the last two games,” said Cooper, whose team defeated Sacramento in its last outing. “We’re playing harder. The change has been made as far as our attitude.
“We’ve still got some motion in our offense, we just don’t have that legitimate back-to-the basket center. Tina can definitely score the type of points that Lisa can get. It’s just a matter of getting her on the perimeter more.”
With that, here’s your starting lineups:
F Marie Ferdinand-Harris
F Tina Thompson
C DeLisha Milton-Jones
G Betty Lennox
G Kristi Harrower
STORMF Swin Cash
F Lauren Jackson
C Camille Little
G Sue Bird
G Tanisha Wright
Tonight’s officials are Michael Price, Amy Bonner, and Jeffery Smith.



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