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June 18, 2010 at 4:38 PM

Game thread: Seattle at New York

STORM WIN: Agler collected his 100th win in an atypical fashion. His signature defense was MIA for most of the game, particularly as Pondexter was able to score 10 points late to shrink the deficit to two points with less than a minute to play. Wright and Jackson made two big FTs to secure the win. Wright finished with 18 points while Jackson had a quiet 20 points with 11 rebounds. Bird, playing before her hometown fans, was the star as she scored 13 of her team-high 22 points in the quarter. “We lost our aggressiveness,” Donovan said. “In the first half, I thought we were super aggressive. They switched screens, which we talked about coming in, and that got them in foul trouble. Then we settled for jump shots instead of getting into the paint and really forcing them to switch and defend.” Pierson was a pill, as she usually is, finishing with 10 points and three assists off the bench. Pondexter led her team with 24 while Mitchell added 13 and five assists. “We were just talking about how the game changed from one half to the next,” Agler said. “It looked like a low-scoring game in the first half, then both teams were scoring close to fifty or over fifty in the second half. It had to be a great game for the fans because both teams were scoring. We don’t necessarily like it that way, but I’m just glad we stayed with them in the game offensively.” Agler said the Storm will remain in “road-trip mode,” returning to Seattle on Saturday to host San Antonio on Sunday. The team will just watch film after the approximate five-hour plane ride, then arrive earlier than normal on Sunday for a walk-through prep on the Silver Stars.
SHHHHH!: MSG was getting excited after Mitchell, a Washingtonian, stole the ball and drove down court for a layin. You know, little player outsmarting the big women. Anyway, Bird quieted the crowd with a three-pointer and a jumper to put Seattle up 72-65. They’re playing some defense, which is a good turnaround.
SCORING BARRAGE: Wright entered an individual scoring spree with the Liberty. At one point both sides were trading three-pointers, then dazzling jumpers that had the crowd hyped. But both coaches were irked as defensive assignments were busted, including a bad one from Seattle that allowed Blue to nail an open jumper. Still, Seattle is only down 63-62 heading into the fourth quarter. If the team can play an ounce of defense, they could pull out the win.
BLOW UP?: The one thing you don’t want to have happen out of a timeout is for the opponent to score. Three times for a 7-0 run? Yeah, that’ll prompt Agler to call a time. Seattle is suddenly down 48-46 with 4:52 on the clock. Again, it’s amazing it’s this close.
LITTLE LOST: One thing that’s missing is some energy from Little. She was tagged for three fouls in the opening half and is playing timidly. She hasn’t collected a steal nor a steal. Seattle leads 43-39 with 6:35 remaining in the third quarter.
HOME FEEL: Bird walked down reserve guard Nikki Blue and banked a short jumper into the net to close the opening half with Seattle ahead 37-33. This is hardly the team Bird directed through a five-game win streak, winning against Western Conference foes by an average 19 points. But you can tell Bird, a native New Yorker, is ready to play on her “home” court. Her offense is starting to heat up and she already has five assists after dishing just one in the loss to Indiana on Thursday. Jackson leads with 12 and seven rebounds. New York, which improved to 46.2 percent shooting in the second quarter, is led by Pondexter’s 10 points on 4-for-10 shooting. She also has five boards and three assists at the break.
AHEM: Seattle hardly looks like the best team in the WNBA. Shots are short, fouls are plenty and defense is missing. It’s odd the Storm is leading 31-30, which may just say the team needs to get its own act together and it’ll be fine — even against some of the better Eastern Conference teams. But can that be done Friday in time for the Storm to finish the quick road trip with at least one win?
FOUL TROUBLE: Jackson has three fouls with 7:17 remaining in the opening half. The Storm bench is screaming flop, but the game has moved on. Pondexter has joined us, making the last two baskets for her team to pull within 22-19 of Seattle’s lead.
END OF FIRST: If the Liberty could hit a shot, they’d be winning this matchup. New York is shooting 25 percent (4 of 16) from the field. The Storm is still out of character and looking for officials to bail them out. Passes on both sides are zinging out-of-bounds, combining for 10 turnovers. McCarville leads the Liberty with six points while Wright has four for Seattle. Storm up 16-14.
PENALTY: Seattle is already over the foul limit after Jackson was tagged with a foul with 1:50 remaining in the opening quarter. Both teams have yet to settle into the game and the Storm’s legs look a little heavy, bricking easy layins. Agler is shouting, “Stick to what we do,” to the team. Seattle up 14-13.
FIRST UP: Pierson is checking into the game, her first as a Liberty. There’s 4:23 remaining and Seattle leads 8-7. McCarville started hot, making two of her first three baskets. Bird gave the Storm the lead with a sick fade away jumper. Storm coach Brian Agler is countering Pierson with his reserves Le’Coe Willingham and Svetlana Abrosimova.
We’re late, spent too much time catching up with all of the local Storm fans at Madison Square Garden on Friday. There’s also a few who made the trip from Seattle, seated courtside with big signs.
How Seattle responds to Thursday’s fourth-quarter debacle in Indiana is the question against New York, which has been off since losing to Washington on the road. In that time the Liberty added former Detroit/Tulsa reserve Plenette Pierson. The forward has had two practices with the team since the Monday deal.
New York has been under major construction, but coach Anne Donovan is pleased with what she has headed into Friday’s game against her former Storm. She’s uncertain how Pierson will figure in early, however.
“We’re a team where right now we need to play,” Donovan said.
Well, let’s get to it with your starting lineups:
STORM
F Swin Cash
F Lauren Jackson
C Camille Little
G Sue Bird
G Tanisha Wright
LIBERTY
F Janel McCarville
F Nicole Powell
C Taj McWilliams-Franklin
G Leilani Mitchell
G Cappie Pondexter
Tonight’s officials are Dennis Brooks, Eric Brewton, and Lauren Bass.

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