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June 1, 2010 at 6:11 PM

Game thread: Atlanta at Seattle

UNDEFEATED: At KeyArena, that is. Seattle is 6-1 to tie Atlanta for the best record in the WNBA. The Storm defense held the Dream to 35.6 percent from the field in winning 90-72 at KeyArena. Jackson led with 32 points and 10 boards, but was slow to say the WNBA should be chasing them in a postgame, in-arena chat. Agreed. It’s way to early to get confident, but the Storm does need to win their home games and steal some on the road. They’re doing that behind impressive defense and that should help them sleep well tonight. It’s on to LA by Wednesday.
COSTUME PARTY?: There are 7,586 fans at KeyArena, bouyed by 800 kids Bing sponsored from the Boys&Girls Clubs of King County. Among that crowd, however, are two strange fans I haven’t seen before — one male wearing a full-on tiger suit and a buddy in a bear suit. Not sure what it means, but they’re seated courtside and living it up (read drinking) for the Storm. And you thought the lesbians were a concern.
AUSSIE! AUSSIE! AUSSIE!: Storm closed the third quarter on a 8-2 run, including back-to-back three-pointers by Jackson to take a 61-48 lead into the final quarter. Jackson is unconscious, leading all scorers with 26 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field. Its gotta be the hair.
NOT WRIGHT: Wright was called for her fourth foul on a driving layin that should have been a no-call at the least. Svetlana Abrosimova made up for it, making a layin later to ignite the crowd. But then was called for a bogus foul of her own. Atlanta within 53-46 but shooting 3-for-10 from the FT line.
HOLDING ON: The lead hasn’t dipped below nine so far in the third quarter. The Storm is still shooting well and even though McCoughtry has had some tough shots against Cash, it’s not putting too much of a dent in the overall game. Seattle up 51-41 with 4:36 remaining in the third.
HALFTIME: McCoughtry, the reigning WNBA Player of the Week is shooting 3 of 14 from the field for seven points as her team was engulfed by a 17-5 run to close the second quarter down 39-27. The Storm outscored the Dream 9-0 down the stretch, highlight by the play of Jackson, who finished the half with a game-high 18 points. Seattle is shooting 51.9 percent and outrebounding Atlanta 16-8 in defensive boards. But the Dream did use eight offensive rebounds to score nine second-chance points.
BLEEP THAT: Saw ESPN2 caught a stream of classic Jackson “Australian” on TV. The Storm is rolling behind Little’s muscle inside and a wicked over-the-top pass by Wright inside to Jackson for a layin. Seattle is ahead 28-22 with 4:13 remaining in the opening half.
DREAM SWING: Yeah, this is going to be a heavyweight fight. Now the team has settled into the Storm’s style and is on a 11-5 run to work their way into the game. Seattle leads 22-20, but McCoughtry is batting balls out of Cash’s hands and Seattle is being called for tacky turnovers while Belarus C Yelena Leuchanka (West Virginia) takes over inside where de Souza had trouble.
LOW POINT: After one quarter of play between the Titians, the Dream is looking beatable. They’ve only scored a season-low nine points, trailing the Storm by eight. Cash and Jackson lead Seattle with seven point apiece while no starter for the Dream has more than three points. De Souza was ineffective with two fouls, attempting one shot and not scoring in the quarter.
VETS WINNING: The Storm is positioning themselves in the right spot to get a 5-1 advantage in the foul count column against the young Dream, But on one possession, Atlanta did grab four offensive boards. They didn’t score and trail 10-4 with 4:09 remaining in the opening quarter.
GET STARTED?: OK, two quick fouls on the Dream are dictating the staccato tempo of this game. Seems the officials don’t want any physical play to get started. The teams are a little jittery, too. Cash and Bird have turnovers while the Dream has two turnovers. Lytlle scored the first bucket with 8:41 remaining in the first quarter.
OLE, OLE, OLE!: Castro Marques received a warm welcome back from the sparse KeyArena crowd. She played for the Strom from 2005-07, averaging 9.3 points and 2.6 rebounds. She was dealt to the Dream in order for the Storm to acquire Cash.
Can any more be said about Tuesday’s matchup? You have the WNBA’s best of their respective conferences facing off at what will be an excited KeyArena. The place is already reminiscent of the 2004 playoffs, this time with “Get Down with Earth” T-shirts draped on one-quarter of the lower bowl seats.
That’s for “Go Green Night” where the Storm (5-1) will wear the road jerseys and fans were encouraged to bring cell phones to the Key for recycling.
On the court, the Storm hopes to recycle its 28-point win in San Antonio to remain undefeated at home and hand Atlanta its first loss of the season. The Dream is 6-0 in their third season of existence.
“It’s unheard of for a third-year team to do this,” said coach Marynell Meadors of Atlanta’s start. She only has two players back from the inaugural 2008 season.
Yet, when those are Brazilian Olympians Iziane Castro Marques, a former Storm player, and Erika de Souza, you’re pretty much set. Both are playing great basketball to open the season, de Souza racking up five double-doubles in her six games.
I’m a fan of what PG Shalee Lehning brings to the roster, however. And that can be anything from rebounding to energy. Lehning had five assists and 12 points in a road win against Los Angeles on Sunday. Four of the Dream’s wins have come on the road.
“She’s just tough and she’s a great leader,” said Meadors of Lehning. “She looks like this little old slow white kid out there that can’t get anything done, but she puts that ponytail back and man, she’s ready to go.”
Are you ready to go? If so, here’s your starting lineup:
F Angel McCoughtry
F Sancho Lyttle
C Erika de Souza
G Shalee Lehning
G Iziane Castro Marques
F Swin Cash
F Lauren Jackson
C Camille Little
G Sue Bird
G Tanisha Wright
Tonight’s officials are Sue Blauch, Roy Gulbeyan, and Maj Forsberg.



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