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August 27, 2009 at 7:03 PM

Game thread: Connecticut at Seattle

STORM WINS: The Bird feed to Jackson helped ignite a 17-6 run to close the game. Seattle won 86-74 for their fourth consecutive victory. It’s also the Storm’s first against the Sun since 2005 and clinches a playoff berth for Seattle. Bird led all scorers with 21 points while Jackson and Cash added 17 apiece. Jackson also had four blocks while Cash had nine rebounds. The Storm’s defense down the stretch was good, but the bench wasn’t as consistent as it was in the previous three games. Agler didn’t play A-Rob or A-Walk. The focus changes now that the Storm has clinched. Bird got her wish in Phoenix defeated a CP3-less LA tonight, but Seattle still has a tough road to retain their second-place standing in the West. The top two seeds receive homecourt advantage. And unless Seattle is playing Minnesota, they’re going to need it. The Storm is 12-3 at home, joining Indiana (12-1) as the teams with the best home records. Some other good stats are Camille Little’s line (13 points and 10 rebounds) and Seattle getting to the 28 times, making 25, compared to the Sun’s 10-of-13 showing.
SUN RISING?: The Sun scored back-to-back baskets to pull within 69-68 with 3:45 remaining. Seattle called a timeout, but turned the ball over. It retrieved the defensive rebound and Jackson scored off a feed from Bird to give the Storm a 71-68 lead with 2:54 left.
HARD FOUL: Jackson was called for a hard foul as Whalen charged into her, toppling the Australian to her back. Jackson took a moment, but rose and stayed in the game. Seattle leads 69-64 with 4:36 remaining in the game.
CASHING OUT: Cash recorded her 700th assist tonight and with her free throws, the Storm is up 67-59, playing with more energy. The defense and rebounding is something to write home about. The offense isn’t as some as normal, but that’s because of Connecticut. There’s 6:45 remaining in the game.
END OF THIRD: Storm started to heat up offensively behind more three-point shooting by Bird and the team play solid defense, using a zone and keeping the Sun out of the paint. Seattle’s frontline is playing well against Connecticut, but the bench is being outscored 11-3. Seattle getting to the line more, getting 17 FT attempts to Connecticut’s seven. The Storm leads 59-53.
ICE COLD: Temperatures reached 90 in Seattle today, but it’s ice cold in KeyArena. Whalen and Bird are on, but the Storm’s once productive bench has vanished and it’s all about defense with a 48-41 Seattle advantage with 4:17 remaining the third quarter.
HALFTIME: Hopefully the Storm can pull out some moves like the Massive Monkees did during a sweet halftime show. The b-boy and b-girl crew is competing for America’s Best Dance Crew on MTV. Seattle just wants to clinch a playoff berth and with shooting 1-of-7 from three-point range and shooting 38.7 percent overall, it’s not going to be easy. The saving grace is the Sun shooting 1-of-11 from three-point land. Bird leads all scorers with 11 while Whalen has eight for Connecticut.
EVIL EYE: If looks could kill, this officiating crew would be goners. Whalen wasn’t happy about a call to end the opening half, giving Forsberg an evil glare after missing a layin at the final horn. Whalen’s foul put Wright at the line and Seattle took a 36-32 lead into the break. Whalen had to be pulled off the court by teammates and Thiabault had a long discussion with the crew about calls.
NOT HAPPY: Both Agler and Sun coach Mike Thibault called quick timeouts, not liking what they’re seeing in the court. Sun was getting rolled over by Seattle, but changed their tune with some aggressive defense. Agler tried to reignite his team, but Sun is still chipping away at deficit, down 35-30 with 42.6 remaining in opening half.
COACHES CORNER: Chancellor isn’t the only D-I coach in the KeyArena house. Washington coach Tia Jackson also is here with players Sami Whitcomb, Kristi Kingma, and Regina Rogers. They spoke to season-ticket holders prior to the game. Jackson has been out on the recruiting trail, but is only bringing on walk-on Amanda Johnson, a PG from Los Angeles. Jackson also said returning PG Christina Rozier is good after offseason leg surgery. Storm up 21-19 with 7:16 remaining in the second quarter. Asked both about the visible lack of support between college and WNBA and Chancellor said it’s because the college coaches are always out recruiting in non-WNBA areas. “If I wasn’t going on this cruise, I’d be out recruiting now,” he said.
END OF FIRST: The Storm opened on an 8-0 run, with Jackson scoring five early points. Bird took over from there with seven to lead Seattle to a 19-15 finish in the opening quarter. It took the Sun a minute to get their offense rolling, they’ve got a small lineup on the floor and are cause some matchup issues with Seattle. Stats are even across the board.
CANDYMAN: LSU coach Van Chancellor, who led the defunct Houston Comets to four WNBA championships is seated courtside with his wife. He spontaneously showed because the Tiger Athletic Foundation organized a cruise to Alaska and he’s the celeb guest speaker. But Chancellor spouted some bad juju for the Storm. “My greatest memory is when we came back here in the playoffs after losing at home and won those two games,” he said while flashing rock star hand gestures. “I’m not trying to gloat, but I replayed those two games over and over because those were two games that nobody — including me — thought we were going to win.” Chancellor’s coached one more season in 2006 before moving on to the college ranks. Known for throwing little candies to the crowd, Chancellor apologized to fans that he didn’t have any today as he signed autographs.
Storm F Lauren Jackson will not start tonight. She didn’t like talking pre-game about the particulars of her injury, but basically it’s still diagnosed as a “jarred back” and she’s undergoing the normal treatment to continue to play. The team’s leading scorer (19.3), she has another doctor’s appointment on Friday.
“It’s painful, it’s really painful,” said Jackson, who’s minutes have decreased from 34 against Detroit to 18 against Washington.
Jackson and point guards Sue Bird and Shannon Johnson are wearing pink-accented shoes in honor of the WNBA’s Breast Health Awareness week. The team also is wearing pick shooting shirts and were set to play in all pink uniforms like Los Angeles on Tuesday, but Adidas wasn’t able to send the version in time. In fact, the company missed its date for other WNBA teams, so only the televised squads will be draped in pink to heighten awareness.
In addition to the cause, it’s a big game because the Storm could clinch their sixth consecutive playoff berth with a win against Connecticut. Jackson didn’t shoot well in a loss to the Sun on the road earlier this month. And it’s doubtful the back helps that cause.
But Connecticut is without leading scorer Asjha Jones (16.7), going 2-2 in her absence. The Sun has played a lot of close games and is unpredictable, needing to get a win themselves to ensure a playoff future.
No sense in talking about it, though, let’s get to it.
Here are your starting lineups:
F Anete Jekabsone-Zogota
F Kerri Gardin
C Sandrine Gruda
G Tan White
G Lindsey Whalen
F Swin Cash
F Lauren Jackson
C Camille Little
G Sue Bird
G Tanisha Wright
Tonight’s officials are Roy Gulbeyan, Tom Mauer, and Maj Forsberg.



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