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July 22, 2009 at 6:39 PM

Game thread: Los Angeles at Seattle

STORM WINS: Seattle went on a 13-0 run in the third OT to break the game open and win. The run was ignited by Bird finally finding her shooting tough, hitting three three-pointers. Little also was amazing with her rebounding. The crowd stayed afterward to hear thoughts from Bird and Cash. Bird drawing a laugh with, “I’m pooped.” She still has to pack and catch a 5 a.m. flight to the All-Star game. But Storm feeling good with 98-87 win in triple overtime.
NO GO: Johnson missed at the buzzer and we’re headed into a THIRD overtime. The Storm record is four against Washington at KeyArena in 2001. Seattle is 6-7 all-time in overtime matchups.
GOOD FOUL: Lennox fouled Little, who was charging toward the hoop for a go-ahead shot. It was a smart move by Sparks coach Michael Cooper because the Sparks aren’t in the bonus — surprise, surprise. Seattle has 3.3 seconds to make something happen.
TIME: Cash caught another major rebound and called time with the scored tied at 82 points apiece and 6.5 left on the clock in the second overtime. We’ll see what Agler has for the KeyArena crowd with his two aces on the bench, fouled out of the game.
BIRD CALL: Bird finally hit a big shot, connecting on a three-pointer to tie the score at 82 points apiece with 53.4 seconds remaining. Bet we head into another overtime.
JACKSON OUT: Jackson stomped off to the locker room, receiving her second technical against DeLisha Milton – was also tagged. Hopefully Jackson cools off. Her team is only down 80-79 with 2:51 remaining in the second OT. There was a lot of jawing. Lennox is going off again to push the Sparks further ahead.
BIRD HESITATING: Little fact. Bird has been awful shooting from the floor in three of her past five games. And you can add tonight. She’s 4-of-12, missing her signature jumper badly and hesitating on another attempt in the final minute of overtime. Little had her back, scoring to tie the game at 75 points. LA ran out of time to convert a shot and we’re headed in a second overtime.
OI! OI! OI!: Jackson nailed a three-pointer to put the Storm ahead 65-64 with 2:41 remaining in the game. LA called a timeout to talk it over. Parker has fire in her eyes, like this might be a breakout game, but the Storm is using every bit of power to stay close and pull out the win. The team is even starting to rebound better with Little grabbing a key board that propelled Jackson’s shot.
FOUL TROUBLE: Wright had been the Storm’s fourth-quarter hero as of late and she just collected her fifth foul on Parker with 4:32 remaining in the game. LA ahead 62-58.
PARKER FOUND: CP3 is making an appearance in the second half. She finally hit a bucket in the game and added another in traffic inside to put the Sparks ahead 53-52 with 10 seconds left in the third quarter. Seattle was unable to connect on a final shot to keep the score frozen headed into the final stanza. The Storm is getting killed on the boards 30-18 and shooting 34.0 percent, which doesn’t work. Three players have scored 11 points to lead the team. Lennox is leading LA with 15 on 6 of 10 shooting from the field.
EXPLODING: Jackson was called for a technical with 47.9 remaining in the half after Wright was called for, what the Storm believes, is an unjustly foul. Jackson was full of her usual Aussie “I love you” language after battling inside with Milton-Jones. LA leads 38-30 with 28.3 remaining.
HEATING UP: The Seattle heat wave is starting tonight at KeyArena. Treating each other like blocking pads, both teams are banging into each other to penetrate inside for shots and are slapping around at the ball. Sparks C Vanessa Hayden is entertaining on the sideline, pumping up her team. The Storm has hesitated at times when it did have a shot and is shooting an anemic 31.3 percent from the field. LA is shooting 45.8 percent and outrebounding Seattle 21-11. That’s going to have to change in order for Seattle to win. Sparks lead 33-28 with 2:48 remaining in the first half.
END OF FIRST: A fancy drive by Wright and three-pointer by Jackson moved Seattle within 16-14 of LA’s lead. Parker, who returned after giving birth in May, is still flat with her shot (o-for-3), but can get up for blocks. She’s stuffed reserve Janell Burse and Little, collecting three total in the quarter.
NICE HIGHLIGHT: Jackson danced baseline to block the you know what out of Milton-Jones’ shot. The Storm was able to turn the defensive push into a highlight when reserve Katie Gearlds hit a three-pointer to give Seattle a brief 9-8 lead with 4:21 remaining in the opening half. But Milton-Jones retaliated, scoring a three-pointer that sparked her team to pull ahead 14-9 with 2:11 left in the quarter.
FIRST BREAK: Jackson has been active and doesn’t look as if the Achilles is a major problem, but Agler pulled her with 6:24 remaining in the opening quarter. LA is up 5-4, getting a three-pointer from Lennox.
SPOTTED: Seahawks star Bobby Engram and Washington C Mackenzie Argens are in the house. Argens is actually a new Storm intern in marketing. She said the job is working out well so far and she’s participating in open gym with other Huskies. Liz Lay is one of the few not with the team, taking time to vacation at home. School resumes in September and the season begins in October.
BIRD BALL: In the final presentation before tip off, Bird was given the game ball from reaching her 3,000th-point game. It was encased in glass and the crowd gave her a standing O, too.
LENNOX THANKED: Lennox received a standing ovation for her being named to the All-Decade team. The Storm presented her with a bouquet of flowers and a token from Tiffany’s. She dished the swag off to her brother Clarence, who is dressed in a sequined gold top and gold felt fedora hat with gold pants and I think alligator shoes. It’s his last appearance at the Key for the regular-season and he stepped out in style, again.
EATING CROW?: Before the arena had a chance to fill, the Storm aired the message from Leslie, which looked as if she was reading from cue cards. Dressed in yellow, she referred to Storm fans as the “best fans” and asked that they continue to support the WNBA “because we cannot make it without you.” Fans applauded.
Mark Storm PF Lauren Jackson as one looking forward to the Storm airing a tribute to fans from LA C Lisa Leslie. “That’ll distract me for sure,” Jackson said with a smile.
Leslie (knee) was unable to travel and announced she’s retiring at season’s end, so the Storm was “strongly encouraged” to broadcast a message from her to fans. Apparently the WNBA is ignoring the fact that Leslie is booed every time she’s introduced in Seattle. Last time the teams met this season KeyArena fans cheered the fact that she was injured.
Jackson is going to start even though she hasn’t run the full length of the court or practiced in a week due to a left Achilles strain.
“I wanted to get back before the All-Star game and feel comfortable,” said Jackson, the team’s leading scorer (18.9). “Know that I’m OK. Test it out and give it a good run. I’m not quite, yet, but I’m getting there.
“Definitely I’m a little bit nervous and whatever. But I’m looking forward to getting out there and giving it a go. Everyone knows my situation.”
Storm coach Brian Agler said Jackson’s minutes could be limited, but it’ll be up to communication with Jackson. He thought about having her play off the bench, but opted against the move because “she’s a pretty good player,” Agler said.
The Storm will honor 2004 Finals MVP Betty Lennox prior to the game for making the organization’s All-Decade team. It’s Lennox’s third return to Seattle since being left unprotected by Agler for the Atlanta expansion draft in 2007.
“It’s been three times and every time there has been something planned to get me caught up in moment,” said Lennox of her returns where she was moved to tears with the Dream in 2008 and cheered for loudly earlier this season. “I’m beginning to think it’s planned so I won’t play well. My goal is to come out and play a little bit better. I haven’t played well [at KeyArena] since I left here because it’s so emotional. But it’s a great honor and I appreciate what they’re going to do for me.”
Then let’s get to it. Here are your starting lineups:
SPARKS
F Candace Parker
F DeLisha Milton-Jones
C Tina Thompson
G Betty Lennox
G Kristi Harrower
STORM
F Swin Cash
F Lauren Jackson
C Camille Little
G Sue Bird
G Tanisha Wright
Tonight’s officials are Michael Price, Scott Twardoski, and Maj Forsberg.

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