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September 10, 2009 at 7:09 PM

Game thread: Phoenix at Seattle

STORM LOSE: This was a really entertaining game. I still say if Agler used the reserves more earlier in the season, some of the injuries might not have been suffered and they wouldn’t have to have waited this long to get a run, but so be it. “Everybody gets their opportunity,” he said. “We’re going to compete. We had absolutely nothing to play for other than our pride.” The Storm lost 92-84 in overtime, getting outscored 15-7 in extra play. But overall, the Storm was great on the boards and outscored the Mercury inside (40-34). Seattle will be without its stars on Saturday, traveling Aqua to the game, but not stating if she’s going to play until that morning. Jackson, who’s mother is in town, will remain in Seattle. She’s unlikely to play in the opening round of the postseason, but stranger things have happened. Seattle almost beat Phoenix after all. Big ups to Wright, who had a game-high 24 points and five assists. Also a nod to PeeWee, who finished with a season-high 15 in 41 minutes. Taurasi led her team with 22, scoring 18 after the break.
ALL BALL: Fans are still booing the officiating. Brooks-Clauser called a foul on Batkovic-Brown that, on replays, was clearly a jumpball with Taurasi with 1:31 remaining in overtime. Taurasi made the ensuing free throws and Phoenix has all the momentum to pull out this win. It is up 89-84, with 55 seconds remaining.
OVERTIME: Little tired to go baseline for the final shot, but it brokedown. Seattle headed into its sixth overtime matchup of the season. Score tied at 77 points apiece. Four Seattle players in double figures. Taurasi (17) and Pondexter (16), leading the Mercury. The last time Seattle went into OT with Phoenix, they lost 101-90. Storm is 3-2 this season in overtime.
MY MVP?: Pondexter lost control of the ball and was facing the 6-foot-4 Batkovic-Brown when she finally looked up for a short jumper with the shot clock winding down. Of course she nails the bucket to tie the score, again, at 77 points with 6.9 left.
BLOCK PARTY: Two FTs by Little tied the score again at 75 points apiece. A-Rob then blocked Taylor’s shot and Little garbed a round. Two turnovers by both teams have kept it tied up. The mood is electric and it’s an entertaining game, really good for Seattle heading into the postseason. Big confidence builder. There’s 32.2 left and Seattle called timeout.
TIE GAME: Burse tied the score at 67 points apiece, sending KeyArena through the roof. Seattle is attacking the boards and playing real aggressive to stay in the game. Wright committed a hard foul on Taurasi, who had a breakaway layin. The two looked as if they were going to start fighting, but Agler called an important timeout instead. Score tied at 69 points apiece as Taurasi goes to the line. Fans are jingling keys when she shoots FTs. They are also booing Taurasi, who I guess will replace Lisa Leslie as the new villain.
WILLINGHAM OUT: Willingham went down in the third quarter, re-injuring her left hand. Seattle worked its way back into the game, trailing 59-54 with PeeWee, JB, A-Walk, Aqua, and Tangie on the court. Check that, a sweet layin by PeeWee made the score 59-56. Press row joked that she’s playing like the PeeWee of the Orlando Miracle days.
MERCURY RISING: The Mercury went on a 12-4 run to pull ahead 56-46 with 7:16 remaining in the third quarter. Taurasi going off.
NEED WINS?: Indiana lost to Chicago 86-79 tonight, so a Phoenix win against Seattle would clinch home-court throughout the postseason for the Mercury. Even if the teams tied their records at the end of the season, Phoenix gets the nod with conference records, going 10-4 against the East while Indiana was 5-7 against the West.
END OF HALF: Storm playing a well-rounded game, getting scores inside and out. Probably surprised Phoenix in a way, with players that the Mercury didn’t really have scouted. Seattle said it would work on its faults and is rebounding well, outworking Phoenix 21-14 on the boards and outscoring them 22-18 in the paint. The Storm is also shooting a solid 45.5 percent from the field. But Seattle trails 44-42 at the break. Wright leads the Storm with 12 points while Pondexter has 10 for the Mercury on 4 of 7 shooting from the field.
DOPPLER TWEETING: Don’t know how it does it with no real fingers, but Doppler is sort of tweeting now. While he has 26 followers as of today, he hasn’t tweeted, yet. Storm down 39-37 with 2:45 remaining in the first half.
STORM LEADS: A bucket by A-Rob gave the Storm a 28-27 lead. There’s 6:48 remaining in the second quarter. Atkinson was just pulled and given a standing ovation by the crowd. The Storm is one of those scary teams you don’t want to play because they have pride and the home crowd on their side.
INVITED IN: Atkinson and Franklin have entered the game, Atkinson immediately scoring on a drive to the hoop. Agler said he was also using the game as an evaluation for people. I know the staff likes the team now, but…Seattle down 22-20 at the end of the first quarter. The Storm at least scored more points than it did on Saturday in a loss to Minnesota (five).
STANDING OVATION: Storm fans gave Bird a standing ovation when announced that she’d remain in uniform. Seattle stacking up well on the court, grabbing rebounds and tying the score at 16 points apiece after a Wright jumper.
In what she called a “no-brainer decision,” Storm PG Sue Bird was signed to a multiyear contract extension today, preventing her from even testing the free agent market. Bird was drafted by the Storm in 2002 and has been the team’s leader since.
But her cohorts will have to pull off the home finale without her. She’s out for a second consecutive game with a sore neck. Bird said the injury has happened in the past, but only took three days to heal. She went through two rough screens in New York and Washington, however, which have this injury taking longer to heal. The hit against the Mystics was so bad, PG Shannon Johnson commented that Bird “flew like a rag doll.” Of course no foul was called.
Johnson will start in place of Bird, but different look lineup doesn’t stop there. Lauren Jackson (back), Swin Cash (funeral) and Katie Gearlds (knee) are out of the rotation, too. Storm coach Brian Agler is starting C Ashley Robinson and C Janell Burse to fill out the opening five.
He also re-signed two former training camp invitees to help with depth.
“They’re going to play,” Agler said of additions G-F La’Tangela Atkinson and PG A’Quonesia Franklin. “We wouldn’t have signed them if we didn’t plan to play them.”
Well, it’ll be tough regardless with Phoenix in town. The Mercury is tied with Indiana for the best overall record in the WNBA at 22-10, so they’re still going full-throttle to get home-court throughout the postseason.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Storm competes. Let’s get to it with your starting lineups:
F Camille Little
F Janell Burse
C Ashley Robinson
G Shannon Johnson
G Tanisha Wright
F Cappie Pondexter
F Le’Coe Willingham
C Tangela Smith
G Diana Taurasi
G Temeka Johnson
Tonight’s officials are Denise Brooks, Roy Gulbeyan, and Penny Davis.



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