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July 7, 2009 at 12:00 PM

Game thread: San Antonio at Seattle

NOW SCREAM: The Storm is on a run, led by Bird, and going to win their 14th consecutive game at KeyArena. It was a rough one, Jackson is on the bench after shooting 1 for 11 from the field, but at least the players pulled together for the win. San Antonio drops to 0-4 on the road. Cash was the highlight, going 5 of 8 from the field for a game-leading 18 points. Bird finished with 17 while Hammon paced San Antonio with 13. Seattle wins 66-53 on Kids Day.
KICKED THE BUCKET: Hughes swift kicked a cup on the sideline when Riley collected her sixth and final foul while going for a block. It looked clean to me, but that puts her out of the game and Jackson will probably go off. First Bird is having fun, hitting her second shot clock buzzer-beater to help pull the Storm ahead 59-48 with 2:53 left.
HELLO STORM: A mini 14-6 run at the end of the third quarter, sparked by Jackson’s first points of the game, gave the Storm a 49-41 lead heading into the fourth. Storm G Shannon Johnson was particularly impressive, scoring six points in the quarter. After two baskets by Bird, the Storm is now up 53-44 with 6:59 left in the game.
DROUGHT ENDED: Jackson hasn’t gone scoreless in a half since May 2005 when she was held scoreless in the second half against Los Angeles. Today, the drought ended with 5:03 remaining in the third quarter when, after making one of two free throws, she cut under the hoop for a layin. The shot gave the Storm a 38-35 lead with 4:59 left.
STILL STANDING: Fans remain on their feet waiting for the Storm to make a bucket. Cash should end the madness with a FT and does. But at one count, the Storm missed four shots in one possession and seven in a row. Jackson remains scoreless, 0-for-8 from the field. Score tied at 35 points apiece with 5:39 left in third quarter.
YUCKERS!: Riley, with her bulky 6-5 frame, has been on Jackson all night, getting help from Young and others whenever Jackson gets the ball inside. Well, Riley was finally called for a foul, but Jackson couldn’t convert on the ensuing free throws and missed another outside jumper. A three-pointer by Bird at the shot clock buzzer saved the Storm, pulling them within 34-33 at the half. Seattle is shooting 39.4 percent, with four assists on 13 made baskets. San Antonio is shooting 44.8 percent and has 11 assists on 13 made buckets.
BLOCK THAT: Wright had a nice block against a baseline-driving Hammon with 2:57 remaining in the half. The defense is getting better, but Seattle is down 32-30 and Jackson is still without a bucket in five attempts.
NOW THAT’S A TIE: San Antonio coach Dan Hughes is another cool one in the league and his status just raised 100 points with me. He’s wearing a Jimi Hendrix tie — classic. Don’t know what the vibe is today. It’s the date of Michael Jackson’s Memorial in LA, but at KeyArena a nine-year-old played the national anthem a la Hendrix at Woodstock and now the tie. Interesting. Storm within 29-28 with 4:30 remaining in the half.
MIA: Jackson is on the bench resting after a miserable opening quarter, missing four shots. One was a good open look. The 6-5 post was crowded on the others and picked up two fouls within a minute of each other. The bench hasn’t been as strong as needed this season, they need to snap out of it tonight if Jackson is going to play like this. Seattle down 27-24 with 7:06 remaining in second quarter.
GOOD D: Jackson can’t get a call, triple-teamed inside, but Bird got away with one as she guarded Erin Perperoglou, tossing her to the ground in pursuit of a steal. The officials had a makeup call on the other end, however. Seattle leads 17-16 after a shot from Hammon.
CASH RETURN: One player who really struggled on the road was Cash. She hit three consecutive shots and a free throw to help give the Storm a 17-11 lead with 2:48 remaining in the opening quarter. Seattle is shooting 57.1 percent from the field, but Jackson has missed both of her attempts. On defense, the Storm isn’t guarding Johnson well, but are outrebounding the Silver Stars 6-2.
PATCHES OF RED: In this economy it must not be cool to tell your boss you’re taking a half day for a basketball game. At least that’s what I’m attributing the patches of empty seats that are normally full in the lower bow. Day-campers are scattered around the arena wearing colorful t-shirts. They went crazy for the Mariner’s moose mascot.
The ThunderStix are already clapping and there aren’t even any basketball players on the court. Yes, it’s the famed noon game aimed at attracting local campers who get the joy of celebrating Doppler’s birthday. The Storm opened up three sections in the upper bowl, anticipating an overflow crowd.
Whatever works for the players, who need to snap a two-game losing snag. Unfortunately San Antonio also is looking to end its own skid — three consecutive defeats on the road. Two were without leaders Becky Hammon and Vickie Johnson. Hammon was with the Russian national team playing in the European women’s basketball championship.
Johnson, a 13-year veteran, noted that it’s real early and she’s not concerned about the Silver Star’s 4-4 start. She expects Belgium center Ann Wauters to sign and join the team in a month and “as long as we’re five, six games above .500 by the All-Star break, we’re good.”
The All-Star game is July 25 and San Antonio has seven games prior to the midseason classic.
Defense is going to be a theme. The Storm played uninspired basketball on the road in Phoenix and LA. Storm coach Brian Agler worked the players on defending throughout practice. We’ll see if it makes a difference.
Storm rookie Ashley Walker is the only injury to report for Seattle, jamming her right big toe. She’s on the bench and will be further evaluated after the game.
Here are your starting lineups:
F Sophia Young
F Helen Darling
C Ruth Riley
G Becky Hammon
G Vickie Johnson
F Swin Cash
F Lauren Jackson
C Camille Little
G Sue Bird
G Tanisha Wright
Tonight’s officials are June Courteau, Shelley Nakasone, and Tom Mauer.



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