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July 12, 2011 at 11:59 AM

Game thread: Washington at Seattle

STORM WINS: Seattle seemed as if it was campaigning for Lacey to keep her job as it repeatedly stated Washington (2-9) is better than when the teams first met July 3. Only the outcome was the same, Seattle (7-4) winning 79-71 before 13,384 at KeyArena. The Storm swept the Mystics, who haven’t won in The Key since 2005. For the record, Lacey shouldn’t be fired this early in the season — especially considering all of the injuries she’s coaching through in her first year at the helm. But Seattle was the better team on Tuesday. Defensively, the Storm outrebounded the Mystics 32-23, not allowing a single second-chance point. Offensively, the Storm shot 50 percent and fed each other the ball like popcorn at the movies. Seattle had 19 assists on 28 made FGs, led by Wright’s seven. “I’m a little jealous…not really,” said Bird, the point guard instead leading with 22 points and three assists. Cash added 20 with six boards and four steals. Agler wanted more balanced scoring, but was pleased at the team play for the second consecutive game. “We’re getting better offensively,” he said. “But I’ve always said you’ve got to take what they give ya, and they were giving some of our people some open looks.” Washington never gave up in the game and was within a couple possessions of a tie late in the fourth quarter. The Mystics, which is on a four-game losing streak, made a season-high 10 three-pointers, Coleman accounting for four to keep the Storm’s attention. But key rebounds by Smith and Cash helped preserve the win. “We had some lapses, there’s no question, and I was concerned,” Agler said. “We had ourselves in position to put them away and we didn’t. But I give tribute to them (Washington) for hanging in there and hitting some key shots.” Now the real gritty work begins for the Storm. They’re not practicing on Wednesday, using the day to travel to play San Antonio on Thursday. Six of the Storm’s next seven games are on the road — the All-Stars (who’ll be named Thursday and July 19) spending one night in Seattle until August. “It’s 70 dollars a day for per diem, that’s the most positive part,” Robinson said of the team’s allowance during travel. “I think I added up about $1,000 we get in the month of July. I’m excited about that.” Seattle also has a chance to move back atop the West. Watch the SIlver Stars play LA on NBA-TV on Tuesday night to see how the standings may change. Game starts at 5 p.m. PST.
SEASON MARK: Robinson’s putback while being fouled gives her a season-high eight points as Seattle has built a comfortable 76-67 lead late in the fourth quarter.
CHECKMATE: Seattle busted out doing more of the same, stretching the lead to 49-37 with 8:47 remaining in the third quarter. Washington coach Trudi Lacey quickly called for a full timeout to discuss but her starters are huddled on the court watching the Storm dancers. Interesting use of time.
HALFTIME: The Storm took a 43-37 lead into the break, getting a tad sloppy with its interior defense to close the half. Bird, the reigning Player of the Week, is en fuego with 15 points and two assists. Cash is doing her usual damage with 10 and Robinson has four off the bench. Overall, Seattle is shooting 53.6 percent from the field and outrebounding the Mystics 10-15. Washington is led by Langhorne’s eight points, none of the players hitting double digits. The Storm needs to continue its attack mode to insure it pulls out the win. If so, it would be the first time since June 21-24 that Seattle has won back-to-back games.
HEY ROOK: Washington PG Jasmine Thomas was excited to be drafted by Seattle to work with Bird. Instead she just got schooled by the future Hall of Famer, Bird stripping Thomas of her dribble and taking the ball the other way for a three-pointer in transition. After a layin by Little, Seattle is up 36-28 with 2:36 remaining in the half. FYI, Thomas was part of that three-team trade that brought Smith to Seattle.
GETTING REST: Storm coach Brian Agler is playing reserves Belinda Snell and Ashley Robinson for en extended time in the second quarter, giving starters Bird and Cash a rest. Seattle was able to extend the lead to 28-16. Agler has been looking for ways to work Snell into the game, feeling most comfortable with vets Wright, Cash, Bird, and Katie Smith — as anyone would. She’s not bothered by the wait, stating she’s keeping herself ready for when called.
WARMING UP: Mystics F Victoria Dunlap started in place of Langhorne the past three games and she’s helping her team warm up on the offensive end. She scored four points to end the opening quarter, helping Washington close within 23-16.
TEAM BALL: The Storm passing is sick. Everyone is working together to continue to get points and it’s quickly frustrating the Mystics. Bird scored on a fast break layin to make the score 17-7 with 3:28 remaining in the quarter. She leads with nine points and amazingly no assists. Feel bad for Washington, though. you can tell injuries to Alana Beard (foot) and Monique Currie (knee) have hurt their plan for the season.
FOR THREE: The Storm is moving the ball well, getting offense off its defense as it likes. The latest was a Littler steal, passed out to Wright who dished to Willingham. The latter spotted a trailing Bird on the perimeter for an open three-pointer in transition to give Seattle a 9-3 lead. Seattle is 3-for-3 from the field to start. Washington is 1-for-5. There’s 6:28 remaining in the first quarter.
We’re a little late with all the mayhem between children screaming and lineup changes. Let’s get to the news quick. Washington F Crystal Langhorne, the team’s leading scorer (18.1), is returning to the starting lineup. She missed the past three games due to lower back pain.
“I saw some chiropractors and they’ve been helping me out a lot,” Langhorne said. “I’ve had back problems before but I’ve never missed a game. So, it was really tough because we’ve been going through a lot of injuries. Me not being able to play was pretty tough.”
With Langhorne back in the paint, the Storm is going to have to focus even more on defense — especially rebounding. The Mystics (2-8) nearly match the Storm (6-4) in holding opponents to 30.9 boards a game. Seattle holds opponents to 30.8.
The Storm is also looking for consistency offensively. We’ll see if they find it, beginning with your starting lineups.
MYSTICS
F Marissa Coleman
F Crystal Langhorne
C Nicky Anosike
G Kelly Miller
G Matee Ajavon
STORM
F Swin Cash
F Camille Little
C Le’coe WIllingham
G Sue Bird
G Tanisha Wright
Today’s officials are Roy Gubeyan, Brenda Pantoja, and Tony Dawkins

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