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May 25, 2010 at 6:41 PM

Game thread: Washington at Seattle

STORM WINS: It’s hard for Agler to get giddy, but I remember when the Storm started 0-4 its inaugural season in 2000, so it’s nice to witness the first 4-0 start in franchise history. Of course, that’s not going to get them out of the opening round of the playoffs and perhaps that’s why Agler isn’t giddy. Seattle could use stronger starts at home, but Tuesday’s finish was one for the record books. Seattle scored 36 points in the fourth quarter for another come-from-behind win. Jackson got things started and had nine points in the quarter, Willingham added six and Bird added the topper with 11 — six from the FT line in the final 32.4 seconds. Washington played a great, physical game. But Agler gave the nod to Bird’s defense on Harding, the play of Little in the third quarter, and Seattle’s rebounding as the difference. The Storm did do a better job on the boards, limiting Washington to two offensive rebounds to outscore the visitors 11-4 in second-chance shot opportunities. Add the three-pointer dropping (6-for-10 in the second half) and KeyArena was uncontrollable. It wasn’t even a sellout crowd with just 6,612 in attendance. “We gave up like four or five wide open threes in the fourth quarter that really got the crowd in the game and brought them back,” said Washington coach Julie Plank. “Thirty-six points in the third quarter? That’s not going to do it. We had a good lead and we needed to hold on to it.” The game is another lesson for Seattle. The team departs Wednesday morning for Chicago, playing the winless Sky on Thursday and the rising San Antonio on Sunday. It’ll be more physical games only the Silver Stars are vets and the Sky swept the Storm in 2009. Bird and Wright led the Storm on Tuesday with 16 points apiece while Currie had a game-high 24 points. Jackson led all rebounders with seven.
STANDING O: Abrosimova is received a standing ovation for her work while Wright rested on the bench. She finished with three points, one rebound and an assist.
RIDE THE TRAIN: The Storm rode Little’s huge third quarter right into the fourth, getting a mega three-pointer from Abrosimova to tie the score at 51 points apiece following a pair of Jackson FTs. Bird added her own trey and Seattle leads 60-59 with 5:48 remaining in the game.
BIG LITTLE: Little scored all 11 of her points in the third quarter to help drag the Storm within five points of Washington’s lead. It’s time for the fourth quarter.
NO HOLD: A three-pointer by Jackson with 4:25 remaining in the third quarter energized KeyArena and pulled Seattle within 47-41. But the Storm can’t get a hold of the game to regain the lead it once had in the opening quarter. Plus, Jackson is on the bench with four fouls and five points.
HALFTIME: The Storm’s safety valves — mainly rebounding and solid defense — aren’t covering their poor offense so far against Washington. Seattle has one offensive rebound and is shooting 43.5 percent from the field (10 of 23). Seattle is being outscored 9-0 on second-chance shot opportunities with both Little and Jackson combining for one basket. Actually Little has yet to attempt a bucket. Currie is leading Washington with 10 points while Wright and Cash have 11 apiece for the Storm.
FOUL TROUBLE: Smith is back on the bench with three fouls. Again, this is not a game for the weak. The defenses are so physical, even Bird’s vision is blurred. She was called for a rare travel when leaping in the air and not finding an option because everyone was well covered. Although instead of just landing, some would say — shoot! Seattle is down 38-27 with 17.8 remaining before the break.
SIGN HER!: Seattle is really struggling to make a bucket, but a fan named Annie nailed a halfcourt shot on her first attempt during a timeout with 2:56 remaining in the second quarter. She won a breakfast for two and other goodies. The Storm, meanwhile, is 8 of 20 from the field. Cash made a tough move to the basket to end a near 4-minute drought. Her ensuing FT made the deficit 33-20.
GOOD WORK: Reserve Jana Vesela checked out 6:58 remaining before halftime, collecting two fouls but causing Washington to adjust its shots and giving Jackson a good break. Seattle’s offense went stagnant before Agler put Vesela, rookie Alison Lacey, and Willingham in the game. Lacey got a steal while Cash and Wright started to hit shots. Seattle still trails by 10, 28-18 with 5:31 remaining in the second quarter.
NO GO: Seattle is trying to get the high-low pass with Jackson going, but Washington is collapsing on the move and knocking away the entry pass. Jackson is 0-for-3 from the field to start the game. Harding is putting on a show and leading her team with six points to put the Mystics up 17-11 with 27.6 seconds left in the opening quarter.
NOSE STORY: If you’ve been watching the Phoenix-Los Angeles series then you know about PG Steve Nash’s broken nose. He’s Canadian, sucking it up no matter how many times it gets hit, because that’s what his hockey friends do. But when I asked Bird about whether she could self-adjust hers mid-game and still play, she nearly stopped me mid-sentence. “I almost threw up,” she said of watching him tweak with his nose during Game 3. “I couldn’t image playing like that,” she continued. Bird will have to have a nose job after playing in order to correct her beak, which has stopped her breathing at night. Doctors told he not to bother while playing because it could, well, you know.
BING: Bird hit her opening bucket, a three-pointer, and later had a long pass to Cash in transition to help Seattle build a 9-5 lead with 6:14 remaining in the opening quarter. The Storm’s defense is definitely helping the offense get going.
The Storm received a welcomed visit from Serbian Tijana Krivacevic, the team’s third-round draft pick. She’s in Seattle for the visit coach Brian Agler said she’d make to survey her new team.
But the 20-year-old, who’s in America until the weekend visiting her sister in New York, won’t report to the team until possibly 2011. Agler wanted to snag her WNBA rights early because of her size and potential, both of which are visible instantly.
So is Krivacevic’s youth. The Storm’s game against Washington should be an eye-opener, her first trip to New York was already. “I really like it,” said Krivacevic, who seems to communicate most with Russian Svetlana Abrosimova, but everyone stopped by pregame to welcome her. Krivacevic was shy speaking English.
“It’s a huge thing,” said Krivacevic of being drafted. “It surprised me at first and I’m very happy. It was the best birthday present.”
Krivacevic, who played for the Hungarian national team and is the daughter of a basketball center, returns to New York on Wednesday.
The Storm just cleared the floor, getting more shots up. The team has tweeted, talked, and hinted at wanting to shoot better. Phoenix hung 110 on Tulsa, if Seattle hist even half of the three-pointers it’s missed to open the season, it could do the same against Washington.
A win would give the Storm its best start in franchise history. Plus it would keep its dominance at KeyArena going. Seattle is 31-5 at home since Agler took the helm in 2008.
So, let’s get to it with your starting lineups:
MYSTICS
F Monique Currie
F Crystal Langhorne
C Nakia Sanford
G Katie Smith
G Lindsey Harding
STORM
F Swin Cash
F Lauren Jackson
C Camille Little
G Sue Bird
G Tanisha Wright
Tonight’s officials are Cameron Inouye, Tom Mauer, and James Williams.

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