RALLY TIME!: Excuse me. Jackson scored seven points in the third quarter as part of a 20-3 Storm run to build a 72-62 lead with eight minutes remaining in the game. So, it’s time to rally. The Storm wants fans to gather at KeyArena’s West Plaza post game to celebrate.
SORRY MS. JACKSON: Four tough plays against Jackson have given the Dream a 56-51 lead with 4:33 remaining in the third quarter. Jackson was beat on a pretty, spinning layin by de Souza, caught for a foul on a driving McCoughtry, and had the ball stolen by Lyttle and watched Castro Marques nail a driving layin. It’s Atlanta’s largest lead of the game and Seattle has called for a timeout with 4:33 on the clock.
GOING NUDE?: ESPN is publishing another “Body” issue with athletes posed nude and private parts strategically covered. The publication will include a WNBA player, stating her “image will be turned upside down,” but it’s not Bird. The squeaky-clean good-girl said she didn’t pose, holding true to a statement that it’s not her style. Guess it’s Candace Parker?
HALFTIME: Dream fans woke up on McCoughtry’s killer three-pointer with 14 seconds remaining in the half, pulling her team ahead 44-43. It was the second time Atlanta led in the half, taking the first off a three-pointer by Kelly Miller with 2:02 remaining in the second quarter. McCoughtry is 7-for-11 from the field for a game-high 19 points. Castro Marques has added 11. Bird and Wright have nine apiece for the Storm. The Dream is 6-for-9 from three-point range, a new tactic for them. Seattle, which can shoot the three, is 3 of 12 from that range. Seattle does have 11 points off second-chance shots, holding the rebound-loving Dream to none. But Jackson only has four points, attempting five FGs. Seattle isn’t having trouble getting the ball to her, she’s just moving around as a piece in the offense and not the focal point. Seattle did this in Game 2 and she really went off in the third quarter. We’ll see if the same holds on Thursday.
OL’ POKE: Bird pulled out my old junior high move (yes, I played once), the old poke the ball when a player has burned you downcourt. It would have been a nifty move if Jackson knew Bird was going for it, then she could have anticipated the ball pinging toward her for the steal. Instead, as my former coach said, it was a move you shouldn’t pull. The ball darted out-of-bounds and Cash went flying for the save. McCoughtry came up with it, made a jumper and collected a foul. Seattle leads 39-38 with 2:32 remaining in the half.
FINALS READY: This is a good game. McCoughtry led her team with 11 points in the opening quarter, shooting 4 of 6 from the field — way better than her 33 percent in the first two games. Wright has seven to lead the Storm. Both teams have combined for four turnovers, another improvement. Atlanta kept Seattle to one offensive board, yet both teams shot above 50 percent in the first quarter.
HANGING: McCoughtry is feeling it, but probably a little too much after getting pushed and having Cash travel her way to the hoop on McCoughtry’s coverage. Cash made the shot and McCoughtry let the refs know she was upset — a no-no. Especially since prior to that, McCoughtry was knocking down jumpers, three-pointers and taking names to pull the team within three points of Seattle’s lead. She let her wrist hang on one three-pointer off a dish from Castro Marques. The Storm is back up 24-19 with 1:33 remaining in the quarter.
NICE START: It’s a little quiet in Philips Arena after Wright nailed two sweet three-pointers to open the game and Bird added a jumper. The Dream has had a turnover and been called for two fouls to fall behind 10-0 with 7:43 remaining in the opening quarter. Meadors called timeout. UPDATE: Wright’s second bucket was ruled a two-pointer.
SPOTTED: Los Angeles F Tina Thompson is seated courtside. Hopefully the cameras catch her leopard-print bag, it’s almost as bad as the Storm. (And I mean bad as in good). Atlanta Hawks stars Marvin Williams (a Washingtonian), Jeff Teague, and Jordan Crawford, the draft pick from Xavier. Al Horford arrived for the second quarter. Former NBA star Eric Snow is courtside, too. Former Falcons coach Dan Reeves and current player John Abrahams are here.
STARTING LINEUPS: Here are your starting lineups for Game 3. Atlanta coach Marynell Meadors made a switch, going back to Brazilian Olympian Erika de Souza for size inside. F Angel McCoughtry said at shoot-around that the goal early is going to be getting the ball inside to both de Souza and Sancho Lyttle:
F Swin Cash
F Lauren Jackson
C Camille Little
G Sue Bird
G Tanisha Wright
F Iziane Castro Marques
F Sancho Lyttle
C Erika de Souza
G Coco Miller
G Angel McCoughtry
Tonight’s officials are: Sue Blauch, Lamont Simpson, and Kurt Walker.
GET STARTED: The atmosphere inside Philips Arena is wild — and that’s just from the Storm fans side. Former F Adia Barnes, who handles the color for the radio broadcast, led chants for media as they took their seats and various upper brass for the team. A little embarrassing, but the appreciation was cool. The players, of course, revealed in it. Atlanta countered with its own fans, but the arena is still filling up with their crazies. Everybody is talking about getting the game started, but there’s still 15-minutes before tip-off.
We’re going to be doing things a little differently for Game 3 since The Seattle Times is in full force with a photographer, columnist and me. Here’s a video photographer Erika Schultz shot at Thursday morning’s shoot-around. Enjoy and I’ll be back with more throughout the matchup: