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September 18, 2009 at 7:10 PM

Playoffs Game 2: Los Angeles at Seattle

STORM WINS: Agler wanted me to print that I thought the Storm played above themselves. I didn’t. I asked around the team and I do agree that they can play better, but they had to work so hard against L.A., I just don’t see how they get out of Game 3 with a win. First off, let’s celebrate the victory they did achieve. Agler made a smart move in inserting the bigger A-Rob on the in-bound pass where the 6-foot Noelle Quinn couldn’t clearly see around her frame. Then the ball hog Little, with her team down one, steps in for the steal and tenacious Wright completes the impressive defense by collecting the ball and dishing it down court to Little for the game-winning layin with five seconds remaining. Add a beautiful three-pointer by Bird with 10.7 seconds on the clock and Seattle (1-1) is high-steppin’ to Game 3 while CP3 is screaming “NO!” in disbelief that the Sparks (1-1) lost. Yet, her team of amazons outrebounded the Storm 12-2 on the offensive glass in the second half. Seattle shot 51 percent to their 32.4. LA won’t miss on Sunday in the decisive Game 3. And CP3 was neutralized in the second half. I really doubt that happens for a third straight game. Lastly, Burse is hurt, taking a hard hit to her ribcage that kept her out of the lineup in the second half. True, Batgirl has been playing supremely and A-Rob, although one-dimensional, was great on defense. T-Wright was spectacular, scoring 11 of her final 15 points in the second half with nine assists, six rebounds, and four turnovers. But Seattle is going to need all of this and then some on Sunday. Where is the “some” coming from? Bird could shoot better (5-of-12) and maybe PeeWee adds more offense. With LA guaranteed to play better – they always do –Seattle’s “better” probably won’t get them out of the first round. And, no, Jackson shouldn’t come back. Her long-term career is way more valuable then this one game. And what a game it’s going to be. “You say we played above ourselves?” Agler said. “Why don’t you write that up. I think we can play better. I know we can play better.”
TIE GAME: Sparks responed with a 10-0 run to go back up 65-63 with 4:18 left. Wright tied it with a jumper.
B-MONEY: A three-pointer by Lennox stopped the run. Leslie added a hook shot and the Storm is holding onto a 63-60 advantage with 6:41 remaining. Agler called time.
BEAT LA: Storm opened the final quarter on a 7-0 run. Add that to the 14-2 run they had in the third and Seattle is up 63-55 with 8:27 on the clock. L.A. looks dejected, which is surprising. Everybody knows basketball is a game of runs, but the Sparks are acting like they are out of spurts. Seattle is playing big-time ball. Especially Batkovic-Brown, who has 11 points off the bench. Crowd chanting BEAT LA.
CASHING IN: Storm has 54-53 lead after jumper by Cash. They are really working hard. But Thompson works harder, grabbing the rebound of her own miss to make the score 55-54 with 32.9 left in third.
BIG LINE: LA going big is killing the Storm. Shortest player on court for L.A. is 6-foot Press row has decided that Little needs to grow about four inches. Yet, Bird gets another turnover. Wright missed ensuing FG attempt. Sparks lead 51-50 after two Cash FTs.
TIME: A steal created by reserve C Suzy Batkovic-Brown and three-pointer by Bird inched the Storm within 45-39 with 7:31 remaining in the third. Seattle has no depth. And I mean that in a positive way. They need players who can defend, score and not make mistakes at this point. Batgirl is helping, scoring on a layin off another turnover out of the timeout, but it’s going to take more. Score is 45-41 with 6:45 on the clock.
PRAY MUCH?: Coop was on both knees watching the game. His team is up 41-34. Seattle playing real aggressive, yet can’t get control of the game. CP3 started early with versatile game and Lennox has had at least four plays that have you wishing Agler never left her unprotected in the 2008 expansion draft. L.A. up 43-34 at the half.
END OF FIRST: Storm shooting an improved 43.8 percent, but still getting handled on the boards. LA leads that category 10-5, outscoring the Storm 10-6 inside and 6-2 in second-chance shot opportunities. But the Storm is hitting the threes, going 3-for-3. They trailed 20-18.
NO FREEBIES: Asked Storm CEO Karen Bryant why the Storm isn’t opening up the upper bowl and selling tickets for a buck like the Phoenix Mercury plan to do on Saturday for Game 2 against San Antonio. “Because we believe people will pay premium prices to see a premium product.” The Mercury deal shocked me. I could see that during the regular season, but seems a little gimmicky for the playoffs. Anyway, Seattle down 20-18 at the end of the first quarter.
BIRDY BACK: With two three-pointer by Bird and solid defense, the Storm has already outplayed their performance in the first quarter on Wednesday. They’re down 11-10 after two FTs by Milton-Jones. There’s 4:42 remaining in the first quarter.
Talk about drama. Seattle, again, is playing a decisive Game 2 in the opening round of playoffs. But Shannon Johnson is retiring at the end of the season along with Los Angeles C Lisa Leslie, making a battle of wills of who’ll go out on a sour note or who’ll continue their trek to a title.
Seattle is pretty successful in these games, going 4-4 in Game 2’s overall. And the Storm just needs to make a few tweaks to win tonight, like getting PG Sue Bird to score, playing thorugh any bad officiating, rebounding the ball and watching the turnovers.
Easy, right? Well, we’re not playing.
KeyArena is on its feet, but the “BEAT L.A.” was the most heartless I’ve ever heard. The crowd made up for the awkward chant with a hearty boo of Leslie in player introductions, but I’m hoping it doesn’t spill over to the court.
Let’s get to it with your starting lineups:
F Tina Thompson
F Candace Parker
C Lisa Leslie
G Kristi Harrower
G DeLisha Milton-Jones
F Swin Cash
F Camille Little
C Janell Burse
G Sue Bird
G Tanisha Wright
Tonight’s officials are Michael Price, Cameron Inouye, and Josh Tiven.



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