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August 6, 2009 at 7:24 PM

Game thread: Seattle at Los Angeles

CONFETTI TIME: I’m a hater. I believe confetti is for championships. Or, gee, a winning record. But what do I know? I’m just a writer who had to swat away falling pieces of metallic gold and purple confetti as the Sparks celebrated a 79-75 win in overtime. Quinn was awesome and Bird’s defense was not. Seattle allowed a 12-0 run in OT to give LA the wiggle room and it was over from there. Fatigued had to be a factor because the Storm was 18 of 25 from the line — the first thing to go when you’re real tired. Seattle was also outscored 20-5 in second-chance shots, playing zone and not getting to the boards. The reserves saw more minutes, but with LA going big, Agler didn’t counter with his. I will say officiating wasn’t great, especially when LA was able to reverse calls as if in court and talking themselves out of a ticket. Parker looks better, notching her third double-double in a row (18 points and 13 rebounds). Again, LA plays 11 of its next 16 games at home. This could be the spark, pardon the pun, they need. Then the confetti will be worth it.
JACKSON OUT: Jackson had four fouls at the end of the fourth quarter and somehow one in overtime equals six for the officials, unless I’m missing one. Either way, she’s out and Parker added the emphasis with a turnaround jumper on the ensuing play to make the score 76-72 with 14.2 left in OT. Bet you can tag this as a loss for Seattle. Jackson led Seattle with 21 points and four rebounds.
QUINN: Man, I remember when Quinn used to hot shots like this at UCLA. Her three-pointer coupled with a three-point play by Leslie has the Sparks ahead 74-72 with 47.4 seconds left in the game. Seattle called a time out and there’s life in this sparse arena.
OVERTIME: Here we go again with extra play. Bird missed an open jumper with about two seconds left in the game. Quinn tied the game at 66 points apiece on a 16-footer with 8.3 seconds left. This is the Storm’s third consecutive overtime game and fourth overall, second against LA. Seattle joins 1999 NY Liberty as only WNBA teams with three consecutive overtime games.
BIRD CALL: Seattle is trying to move its offense through Bird, but she isn’t hitting. The Storm also isn’t getting the needed defensive stops, watching Quinn hit another thrww-pointer to put the Sparks ahead 60-56 with 4:12 left in the game.
END OF THIRD: It was a wild finish with Cash arguing about a foul called against her. Quinn made the ensuing to FTs and LA has inched within 51-49 headed into the fourth. The Sparks are weak on offense,s hooting 36.5 percent and the Storm isn’t any better (37.8). If the Storm could stop the Spark’s second-chance shot attempts (15-2), they might be able to steal this one.
SPOTTED: Snoop Dogg said he was going to be the “Jack Nicholson of the WNBA,” but he obviously doesn’t know that Jack showed for every Lakers game — good or bad. Snoop hasn’t been back since that famed June day, from what I hear from the locals. But Debo (“Friday”) is seated courtside with NBA star Chris Paul. Seattle leads 48-42 with 3:14 left in the third quarter. Boston’s Leon Powe was also shown, but booed heavily by the crowd. People! Wasn’t he was injured? Does he really need to be booed like he’s Ray Allen? Then, of course, folks lineup up for autographs after the game.
ROBINSON IN: Ashley Robinson just checked in. Leslie got a score inside, though. Seattle up 44-40 with 4:47 remaining.
HALFTIME: Seattle is down 32-31 at the break and it couldn’t come soon enough. Leslie and Jackson are going at it with elbows, you can feel the tension rising, and Seattle is getting tagged for tacky fouls. Sparks don’t look as alive as they did to open the game. Almost bored with the contest, which is a shame for a roster with so much talent. Both teams need the win, but San Antonio’s loss to Atlanta gives both some breathing room. Jackson leads Seattle with 10 points.
STORM LEAD: A layin by Jackson gave Seattle a brief29-28 lead with 2:05 remaining. Again, Parker responded with a jumper to take it right back. Seattle playing with more pep.
ROLLING NOW: A three-pointer by Wright followed by a her steal and dish ahead to Little pulled the Storm within one point of LA’s lead. But Parker responded with a trey of her own to make it 28-25 with 3:38 remaining in the half.
NOT HAPPY: It’s early, but the Storm is doing a lot of eye rolling. From what I can tell, they are passing when a shot is expected and vice versa. The Sparks’ scrappy defense — full of slapping and pushing –isn’t helping, either. Seattle is working their way back into the game, however. With 6:46 remaining, Seattle trails 24-20.
END OF FIRST: Imagine that. If played, the Storm bench can produce. At least that’s the case after the opening quarter. Burse and PeeWee have made good defensive and offensive contributions to help the team close within 22-16. They still need to clean up handling the ball and fouls aren’t helping. Little is on the bench with two. Both teams are shooting well and Seattle leads the rebounding 9-5.
GETTING UGLY: Another turnover gave the Sparks more life as they converted the shot on offense. LA is on a 14-0 run that Agler is trying to stop with timeouts and substitutions, but to no avail. Remember Seattle was crushed in LA 82-55 in June.
FIRST SUB: Janell Burse has checked in for Little, but LA is popping threes like it’s a game at Chuck E. Cheese. The Sparks lead 14-7 at the first break. Turnovers and missed shots are hurting Seattle early. There’s 4:42 remaining in the opening quarter.
Storm coach Brian Agler said he doesn’t pray for things like, oh, no overtime, but that has to be a secret wish of the team. Seattle has played three consecutive ones at home and seemingly can’t blow a team out any more or at least win convincingly.
Neither can any one else, to hear Agler run through the past few weeks in the WNBA.
“It’s just tight,” he said. “Everybody has its own strengths and weakness and it’s just tight. And it’s not like that only in the West, it’s in the East, too.”
The league is still waiting for LA to burst. C Lisa Leslie rejoined the lineup on Tuesday, but G Betty Lennox is out with a knee injury. Yet, the Sparks play 12 of their upcoming 17 games at home, so a turnaround could happen.
For Seattle, it’s a pivotal game. The Storm has a two-game lead for second and can’t afford to slip into the muck below it. G/F Katie Gearlds is out with a left knee injury and Agler said the team could rely more on reserve Shannon Johnson in a three-guard lineup. But he’ll also play starters Swin Cash and Camille Little more at the small forward slot.
“We’ve decided we’re going to just absorb it,” said Agler of his decision to not sign or make a trade to fill the void. “We don’t want to release anybody. We have 11 players. To sign somebody, we have to release someone and we don’t want to do that.”
Tonight it’ll be about the bigs, however, with Leslie and Candace Parker playing for LA. Should be a serious battle with both teams grasping at high postseason hopes. Let’s just hope it’s not an overtime battle.
Here are your starting lineups:
STORM
F Swin Cash
F Lauren Jackson
C Camille Little
G Tanisha Wright
G Sue Bird
SPARKS
F Candace Parker
F DeLisha Milton-Jones
CTina Thompson
G Noelle Quinn
G Kristi Harrower
Tonight’s officials are Cameron Inouye, Roy Gubeyan, and Felicia Grinter

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