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July 30, 2010 at 7:00 PM

Game thread: Chicago at Seattle

STORM WINS: Jackson and Cash took a breather in the final quarter too, Jackson taking a little extra time in the training room after a 80-60 win. It’s the Storm’s 13th consecutive victory at home and overall, surpassing the 1980 Sounders for the city’s all-time best start for a pro franchise. Those Sounders went 21-2 before dropping their third game. The key to Seattle’s win was limiting Fowles, for sure. “It was a team effort,” Little said. “Everybody was all over the floor when she got the ball. We congested the lane and she struggled some. So many people were thrown at her, I think it was hard for her to recognize when her shots were coming and when they weren’t. It worked it.” One of the reasons was because Robinson contributed, too, further opening up the Storm’s options on the court. Jackson was able to get rest and players like Vesela and Cash were able to play together with Robinson, sometimes running a guard and four “bigs.” “She’s good, you’ve got to hang in there and depend on your help and try to stay strong because she’s probably one of the strongest post players I’ve played,” Robinson said of Fowles. Agler has said earlier this month that he wanted to get Robinson more time on the court, hoping she could be the ninth player in his rotation. With the posts other teams have added to their rosters, it would be a benefit for Robinson. She was cheered on by out-of-town friends and the 7,749 in attendance as she finished with three blocks, two rebounds, two points, and one assist in 14 minutes. The team is packing Friday night for its two-game trip against Minnesota and Tulsa, departing Saturday. The Storm remains in pursuit of Houston’s all-time best start before suffering a third loss (25-2) and Los Angeles’ record for most wins in a WNBA season (28). Cash led with 16 points while Little and Willingham had seven boards apiece. Chicago F Cathrine Kraayeveld (Lake Washington High) finished with seven points and three rebounds.
FOWLES OUT: Key took Fowles out of the game early in the fourth for some rest. Agler has gone to his other reserves, too, putting Jana Vesela in the game. A jumper by Bird made the score 78-51 with 6:18 on the clock. Fowles has 13 points, five rebounds, and five assists.
END OF THIRD: As balls dribbled out-of-bounds in consecutive possessions, it appeared Chicago go Steve Key didn’t make any adjustments at the break. In a low-scoring quarter, in comparison to Seattle’s first half, the lead was just sustained at 72-49. The sickest plays for Seattle were Cash’s sky walking finger roll for the opening points of the half at the 8:08 mark and three-pointers by Willingham and reserve guard Svetlana Abrosimova.
HALFTIME: The Storm scored a season-high 55 points in the opening half, only scoring 50 or more three times in this historic season. The leader was Jackson and Cash with 12 points apiece while Willingham had six off the bench. Fowles mustered 11 points, but the Sky has allowed 10 points off nine turnovers and is shooting 35.7 percent from the field.
A-ROB TIME: Ah, so this is what Agler meant by a switch in defense on Fowles, Robinson is going to play more. And A-Rob is having the game of her career in Seattle, collecting a steal, grabbing rebounds, and scoring to have stats across the board. And at 6-foot-4, she’s the only next to Jackson (6-5) who can counter Fowles’ 6-6 height. Storm up 55-31 with 9.3 remaining in the half.
ROUT: Fowles went to the bench irrate as the Storm rolled to a 39-19 lead with 5:30 remaining in the opening half. Fowles was screaming for her team to “Let’s go!” But it was just more turnovers and missed assignments. Yet, could this be a reserve of the Phoenix game on Tuesday? Could Chicago have a roaring comeback in its bag for after halftime?
END OF FIRST: The Storm is shooting 55 percent and outscoring the Sky 12-4 in the paint to take a 27-13 lead after the opening quarter. Cash leads with 10 points and reserve Le’coe Willingham has three boards off the bench. Chicago, which is playing like the last-placed team in the East, is 2 of 6 from the line and shooting 35.7 percent, making just five FGs.
BREEZY: The Storm went on a 12-0 run to take a 24-8 lead after a three-pointer by Jackson. Fowles finally appeared with a fast layin while covered by reserve Ashley Robinson, but the Storm simply responded with an old-fashioned three-point play.
FASHION POLICE: Supposedly there’s a dress code in the WNBA as there is in the NBA. The players are to dress nice on the bench when not playing and coaches are to wear suits or business wear for women. We teased Agler about his black shirt and pants look on Tuesday, wondering if it was a fine. “If you don’t mention it, probably not,” Agler said. “I’m sure if there was a fine, I would have a text when I got back in my office.” That was because of the nationally televised game against Phoenix on ESPN2. Only as if tempting a bull, Agler busted out with a bright red shirt and black pants on Friday. Perhaps he’s saving the ties for the postseason. But to be fair, Agler isn’t the only to take a casual look. Tulsa coach Nolan Richardson wore the same a few times this season and multiple players have worn hoodies or faded jeans and sneakers on the bench.
LITTLE SMOOTH: Little was tagged early, but didn’t let that sway her game. She took the three-pointers she was hitting in warm-ups to the game and connected on a fast-break layup to help the Storm lead 12-6 with 4:44 remaining in the opening quarter. Cash added a three-pointer and layup of her own to be the Storm’s only scorers. Seattle is showing more energy and determination to start, which is making a difference in comparison to the May flop.
LITTLE ON FOWLES: Little is starting out on Fowles and collected her first foul with 9:50 remaining in the opening quarter. Fowles made the second of two FTs to put the Sky up 1-0.
Well, one of Seattle’s goals this season was not to drop a series to any team. The West has been taken care of, going an impressive 16-0 in the conference. But Chicago has tripped up Seattle the past three games and a win on Friday would give the Sky a sweep on the season, the only team to do so against the Storm.
But I doubt it happens. Storm coach Brian Agler was very coy about what he’ll do, but a big part isn’t even on him. I don’t think the Storm is going to have a chilly start and he’ll probably start with two-time MVP Lauren Jackson on MVP-candidate Sylvia Fowles to start the game.
Storm guard Sue Bird had to tap her head, symbolizing wood, but she said the season feels extremely similar to her 2002 Connecticut team that went undefeated. It was harder then, but Bird said it was all about preparation — individually and team-wise — that led to all the success of the court.
Seattle only had a day to really prepare for Chicago, but the lessons of the May 27 loss have been lingering all season. So, there’s little to say in this rematch, aside from it’s probably on for Seattle.
Let’s get it going with your starting lineups:
SKY
F Tamera Young
F Mistie Bass
C Sylvia Fowles
G Jia Perkins
G Dominique Canty
STORM
F Swin Cash
F Lauren Jackson
C Camille Little
G Sue Bird
G Tanisha Wright
Tonight’s officials are Roy Gulbeyan, Tom Mauer, and Penny Davis.

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