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August 7, 2010 at 6:53 PM

Game thread: Tulsa at Seattle

STORM WINS: Let’s hear it for the bench. Seattle collected a 111-65 win behind the reserves being able to combine for a season-high 56 points with three finishing in double figures. The crew was led by Abrosimova, who had 20 points and a season-high eight assists. Svetty hit the key three-pointer with 22.2 seconds left in the game that gave Seattle its largest point total in franchise history and a WNBA-record 46-point margin of victory, surpassing Houston’s 45 set in 1998 in a 110-65 final against Washington. The bench helped take a 33-point lead at the break and ballooned it to 52 following a short jumper by Vesela. The Czech Republic forward finished with a season-high 11 points while Robinson tied her career-high with 10. She said the crew has been waiting for this type of playing atmosphere to show the work they’ve put in this summer outside of practice. “When we can get in the gym, we’ll go shoot and Svetty, she’s crazy, she’ll go do sprints,” Robinson said. “She’s a super vet, all of the rest of us don’t want to go do sprints, but we try to get the shots up and get in the extra work.” Agler said Robinson’s play recently has him feeling more confident putting her in the rotation more. The reserves will get a lot of time as the Storm heads out on a three-game, eight-day road trip beginning with travel on Sunday. Agler said he’ll probably play the opening half as if it were a normal game; then put the reserves in for the close, substituting so people get rest. “We want to be as fresh as possible and improved going in (to the playoffs) and we’ve got six games to do that,” Agler said. “This is going to be a good trip for the Janas, the Ashleys, the Abbys, and the Alisons because they’re going to get extended minutes in the second half. What I hope doesn’t suffer is some of our starters that could be getting some awards at the end of the year. People look at this stretch of games and punish them for that – that’s not the case and it could happen. But we also want to get everyone to the starting gate of the playoffs and one way to keep people fresh is to cut their minutes down.” Seattle, which is now 24-4 and 15-0 at home, could really rest if Indiana would lose to Phoenix on Sunday, giving the Storm the overall best record in the WNBA to secure homecourt advantage throughout – should the Storm advance. Otherwise Seattle would need a win at its first stop, Atlanta. For the night, it’s celebrating a return to the old Storm that created offense off its defense and had a booming bench to back them up. “There’s not much you can say when you get beat by 50,” said Ohlde, whose team lost in Los Angeles on Friday, waking at 4:30 a.m. Saturday to travel to Seattle for the evening game.
STAT ALERT: Lacey has been close with four attempts, but remains the only Storm player not to score with two minutes left. The bench of teammates and players on the court are trying to pad her stats, but Lacey’s best plays are her tough rebounds and a sweet assist inside to Bishop.
NO BREAK: Richardson is playing around with lineups, too, but the Storm hasn’t chilled. A FT by Vesela made the crowd go batty with a 100-50 lead. No one in the place wants the Storm to stop, either, a few screaming for more cushing and pounding. Are we still in pleasant Seattle? Guess the city really doesn’t know how to act with a winner (smile).
SPOTTED: U.S. Representative Jay Inslee, a proclaimed big Storm fan, sat with co-owner Anne Levinson on Saturday. He had an odd path to the game, working today where four young women gave a speech and assisting one who fainted due to nerves. Once she recovered, Inslee discovered they all love basketball, so he bought them four tickets to the game. Washington men’s basketball coach Lorenzo Romar also is in attendance along with Cash’s mother. Cash said her mom made Latta a plate of food to pay-up on their dinner bet from the Storm loss on Tuesday. Seattle is up 90-42 with 7:32 remaining in the fourth quarter.
STARTERS SIT: Well, LJ Night isn’t going to be full of flashy numbers. She’s probably out for the game with 12 points and 10 boards in an off game, by her MVP standards. But her teammates are playing so well, Seattle is up 85-40 and continuing to grow the lead with reserves Ashley Robinson, Alison Lacey, Jana Vesela, Abrosimova, and Willingham on the court.
FOR THREE: Jackson was replaced in the lineup by fellow Australian Abby Bishop and the latter finally hit another three-pointer — her first since May – with 8.9 seconds left in the half. The shot helped the Storm head into the break with a 60-27 lead. It’s the most points the Storm has scored in a half this season. The team is getting help from everywhere: Wright has 10 points and three assists, Cash has 12 and six rebounds while Abrosimova has nine points and three assists off the bench. Offense is the Shock’s biggest problem. They are shooting 31.3 percent and only have one offensive rebound in the half. Not going to win many games that way. Robinson, who has improved her offensive game this season, leads the Shock with a modest six points on 2 of 7 shooting from the field.
PASTING: The Seattle is all over Tulsa like white on rice, to steal a phrase Storm coach Brian Agler likes to use. Seattle is outrebounding the visitors 25-6 and holding them to 25 percent shooting from the field while forcing the Shock into eight turnovers. Bet the wish they didn’t win that first game. Seattle is up 48-17 with 2:41 remaining in the opening half.
HOT HEADED: Jackson is hyped, getting in Twardoski’s face about how Ohlde is playing her. The two have been tangled twice for rebounds and the last with 5:56 remaining in the half had Jackson yanking her arm loose from Ohlde. But Jackson was called for a travel, which no one in the building liked. Seattle is up 40-15.
FIVE FOR FIVE: The public address announcer got the crowd laughing when Richardson made one of his signature five-for-five lineup changes. “Lineup change for Tulsa…Everybody,” he said. Richardson sent the bench flying to the score’s table to check in once Abrosimova spotted a wide-open Jackson under the hoop for an easy layin. Seattle is now up 36-15 with 7:00 remaining in the half.
END OF FIRST: Sorry about the lack of updates, actually got really caught up in the game. Reserve Svetlana Abrosimova is breaking ankles with her dribble drives, Bird is toying with Latta and Cash is leading the way with 10 points and five rebounds. Wright has six points and her defense has helped keep the Shock to 23.5 percent shooting the half, getting outrebounded 15-3. Seattle is up 28-5. Jackson is the only player of those who’ve logged minutes to not score, yet.
CLICKING: The Storm is all over the court, getting blocks from reserve Le’coe Willingham and three-pointers from the post to help take an early 27-9 lead in the game with 28.9 seconds remaining in the opening quarter. This is the most alive Seattle has been to start the game in a while. Not even Thursday’s win against Connecticut looked this sharp to open.
REMEMBRANCE: Jackson is wearing black electrical tape on her left biceps. She told Storm public relations that it was in honor of a family member who passed, but did not share the private details.
BEJEWELED: The Storm fawned over Jackson, a two-time MVP who’s played her entire 10-year career in Seattle. As she bashfully tried to gret away from the pregame ceremony, owners unveiled a massive jersey signed by fans, a big LJ head, and gave her a charm bracelet adorned with 10 rubies, 10 emeralds, and 10 diamonds to mark her decade with the organization. I heard there’s more to come, too. How are they going to top that for Bird next year? Jackson didn’t have a fabulous start to the game, however, missing her first two attempts and collecting a foul. Cash is 3 of 3 from the field to put Seattle up 7-0 in the opening quarter.
The rain is back in Seattle and around every corner is a festival, garage sale or Seafair, the summer tradition on Lake Washington. But a lower-bowl sell out crowd (9,686) is still expected at KeyArena for the Storm’s rematch against Tulsa.
Any heat lacking outside can be found on the court, too. The Storm lost to the relocated Shock 84-75 on the road Tuesday. Toward the end of the game, Seattle PG Sue Bird and Tulsa PG Ivory Latta exchanged words after the expressive Latta held her hand to her ear, egging their crowd on, and did some jawing.
“They were very excited about winning and to me it looked a little beyond just being excited about winning,” said Bird prior to the rematch at KeyArena on Saturday. “I was definitely calm and in the moment I was glad they were giving us motivation for next time. I just said, ‘Keep yelling, keep yelling.'”
Bird later explained that it was mainly the Shock going crazy after getting a defensive stop when they were already up eight that really irked her.
“It’s not that like they just stopped us from winning the game,” said Bird of the matchup already being decided. “But I understand why they were excited, I’m an athlete, too. I’m a competitor, so as happy as they were, I was upset.”
Latta said the situation grew out of control. After the win, Tulsa’s first at home since June, coach Nolan Richardson told the team its the best they’ve played all season and fans reacted as if a championship was won.
Seattle (23-4) is undefeated in 14 games at KeyArena and isn’t planning on dropping another to Tulsa (5-23). But the Shock hasn’t been an easy matchup. They play aggressive defense and surprising offense. The Shock’s ability to cause turnovers flustered the Storm in the loss (24 turnovers) and Seattle needed second-half rallys to win twice in the four-game series. Reserve Svetlana Abrosimova was key, nailing three-pointers to finish with more than 20 points in each victory.
“Words were said, but I kept going,” said Latta, who was signed July 5. “If I lost, I take it like a woman and if I win, that’s what I’m going to do. Some people handle things differently. I was just happy about the win, smiled and kept it moving.
“We played a great game against them and I really believe we’re getting better as a team. We’re learning each other a little bit more. They’re going to come out her fired up and ready to go because they are still the No. 1 team in the WNBA. They’re looking at us like ‘They’re the last, so we can’t let them beat us, again.’ We’re just going to go out there and compete hard.”
Them’s fighting words? Let’s get it going with the starting lineups:
F Tiffany Jackson
F Rashanda McCants
C Nicole Ohlde
G Ivory Latta
G Scholanda Robinson
F Swin Cash
F Lauren Jackson
C Camille Little
G Sue Bird
G Tanisha Wright
Tonight’s officials are Eric Brewton, Scott Twardoski, and Marcus Clayton.



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