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July 12, 2009 at 5:57 PM

Game thread: Chicago at Seattle

RARE MISS: Bird was 1-of-10 from the field tonight and the last miss hurt. A simple runner in the paint that she normally makes was just short, brushing off the front of the rim. Needing to foul to gain possession, Chicago continued its hot shooting, taking it to the line to score four FTs down the stretch and close out a 86-81 win. Perkins was the leading scorer in the quarter with 21 points while Wright tried to pull out the win for Seattle, scoring eight in the final minutes. Seattle’s 15-game regular-season home win streak, which dates back to June 2008, was snapped and the dropped the series to Chicago for the first time since the team’s inception four years ago. Dupree led the Sky with 28 points while Toliver had 22 points, including 6-of-8 shooting from three-point range.
LAST PLAY?: Seattle has the ball and is down 82-81 after Jackson missed another free throw. There’s 31.7 seconds left.
FOWLES HURT?: Fowles called for the latest time and is being taken to the locker room. She was wincing, but it’s un clear what’s hurt. Wright made a layin to put Seattle up 79-77 with 1:57 remaining.
BLOCK THAT: Fowles said she’d be there in crunch-time and despite a forgettable game, she came up with what could be a key block with 2:32 remaining. The stuff was on a Little layin attempt. Another timeout has the score frozen at 77 points apiece with 2:32 left.
WRIGHT STUFF: Toliver was getting a little too comfortable on the KeyArena court and Wright put a momentary end to that, picking off the rookie’s dribble. Jackson picked up the ball and dished ahead to Wright, who made the layin with 3:13 remaining to give Seattle a 77-74 lead in the fourth. The play moved Chicago to call a timeout. But Jia Perkins nailed a three-pointer after the break to tie the score, again, at 77 points apiece.
ToliverGum.jpgSTICKING AROUND: A fan sent a photo of Toliver’s ABC gum that she disposed of atop the KeyArena scoreboard (pictured right). Maybe she meant it symbolically because the Sky is sticking around, tying the score at 61 points apiece headed into the final quarter. While Chicago is a two-player show, getting most of its scoring from Dupree (22 points) and Toliver (17), Seattle is well-rounded. Seattle needs defensive stops in order to win this one.
STILL TIGHT: The Storm is working hard for this one. A three-pointer by reserve Katie Gearlds, steal by Little, and jumper by Burse has Seattle on a 7-0 run to build a 57-54 lead with 2:12 remaining in the third quarter. Toliver is still shooting lights out, however.
CLOSE HALF: Guess the Storm and Sky wanted to keep in theme with the weekend’s close WNBA games. Except the LA thrashing in Washington, of course. The Storm got stops on defense and outrebounded the Sky 16-11 in the half to pull even at 42 points apiece at the break. Cash and Jackson lead Seattle with 12 points apiece. Dupree and Toliver each have 14 points for the Sky, Toliver going 4-of-5 from three-point range in the second quarter. Wright had four assists to aide the Storm’s offense in the quarter.
AND THAT: Bird said she can’t live without her SlingBox while playing overseas, watching a lot of women’s college basketball games. Well, she must have missed that Toliver is decorated three-point shooter. She’s hit three in this quarter alone, two with Bird covering her. Add continued hot scoring by Dupree and the Sky are up 42-38 with 1:43 remaining in the half.
TAKE THAT: Rookie Kristi Toliver was stuffed by C Janell Burse at the top of the key, getting a rise out of the home crowd. Wright missed an ensuing layin, but was fouled and made the free throws to put Seattle up at the end of the quarter. But there was still 6.6 seconds left on the clock and Toliver paid Seattle back for the defensive play, hitting a three-pointer to give the Sky a 19-17 lead at the buzzer.
SKY HIGH: Chicago went on a 9-2 run to build a 14-13 lead with 1:48 remaining in the first quarter. Dupree led with seven of the points during the spurt.
NOT CHARITABLE: It’s still early, but there may be a trend developing with Jackson and free throws. Since shooting 100 percent against LA (2-2) and Phoenix (4-4), she is a paltry 2-of-6 from the line. Today is no better, missing her first two attempts. Jackson is going to get to the line because of how physical teams play her, she’ll have to return to making that shot. Seattle leads 6-3 with 4:54 remaining in the first quarter.
TRE FOUL: The game is trying to get started, but officials have called three fouls on Seattle within one minute of play. The Storm continues to play tough defense, forcing two Chicago turnovers. Sky leads 1-0 with 8:15 remaining in opening quarter.
Chicago C Sylvia Fowles will return to the lineup tonight, starting after missing her team’s past four matchups due to soreness in her right knee. Fowles, a 6-foot-6 Olympian, tore her ACL in the knee in college and needed surgery on her left knee last season, missing 17 games.
But she said past injuries didn’t make her cautious.
“I just needed a little time to recover,” said Fowles, who suffered the injury after knocking knees with teammate Jia Perkins in a home win against Washington. “I’m not extra cautious. If it’s going to hurt, it’s going to hurt. I felt like if I couldn’t give 100 percent, then I wasn’t going to play. But since I’m feeling good, I’m going to go out there and give it my all.”
The Sky is on a four-game losing streak, which the team partly attributes to missing Fowles. But despite her starting tonight, Key is going to limit his star.
“We practiced yesterday and she looked fine,” he said. “We’re not going to attempt to play her 30-plus minutes, but she has told me that if it gets down to crunch-time type of situation, she definitely wants to play and feels good.”
Seattle lost to Chicago in the first meeting 64-57 on the road, but part of the reason was the Storm not shooting well and lax play. Key held a team meeting prior to today’s game, emphasizing that the Storm probably won’t miss those shots tonight.
Seattle has won its past five home games, 15 since June 2008.
“Hopefully having her back will re-energize us and get us back to where we were priror to these last four games,” Key said of Fowles.
“It’s not going to be the same game, but we would love for it to end that way,” said Key of the win against the Storm in June. “We think they’re going to make those shots, we’re just going to try to make it as tough as possible.”
Well, let’s get to it. Here are your starters:
SKY
F Brooke Wyckoff
F Candice Dupree
C Sylvia Fowles
G Dominique Canty
G Jia Perkins
STORM
F Swin Cash
F Lauren Jackson
C Camille Little
G Sue Bird
G Tanisha Wright
Tonight’s officials are Kurt Walker, Byron Jarrett, and Tony Dawkins.

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