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July 19, 2011 at 3:47 PM

Game thread: Seattle at Chicago

STORM LOSES: Seattle coughed up another one, allowing Chicago to close on a 9-0 run to collect a 78-69 win at Allstate Arena. Everyone contributed to the folly in this one. Little missed layin and FT, Cash and Wright had turnovers while Bird missed two three-point attempts in the final 1:56. The Sky put on an electric show, behind Prince and that crossover and Vandersloot dishing to Fowles. “They scored directly off our turnovers,” said Bird, who led all scorers with 26 points on 10 for 23 shooting from the field. “They played well, but that last minute or whatever, that was all on us. Turnovers happen, you’re trying to be aggressive and do the right thing, but it didn’t work out for us.” Fowles led her team with 24 points and nine rebounds, Prince added 23 points while Vandersloot had 11 points and a game-high seven assists. Chicago (8-8) moves to 7-2 at home, impressing Bird with its All-Star lineup. “I’ve seen Piph play a lot since I’ve played with her overseas (Spartak), those shots are very tough and she makes them often,” Bird said. “With Syl, she’s such a presence down there, if you do a good enough job to make her catch it a little farther out and shoot it, she’s still so relentless…And obviously Courtney is a very good point guard, ran her team very well. She definitely has a calm demeanor about her, doesn’t get rattled, just plays her game. That’s good, not just for a point guard, but for any young player.” Seattle (7-7) returns to host San Antonio (9-4) on Thursday, its final game before the brief All-Star break. The Storm was 0-3 on the road trip, magnifying the importance of wins with every approaching game. The team won’t practice, meeting to review film. Agler will also make a decision about his starting lineup before game-time, stating prior to Tuesday’s loss that he was taking Robinson’s insertion game-by-game. “We’re not sitting here feeling sorry for ourselves,” said Agler, whose team allowed 23 points off its turnovers in the second half on Tuesday. “We’re thinking we’ve got to get better. There’s a lot of season to be played and we’re going to keep working at it.”
FOULED OUT: A-Rob was mobbing the Sky in the paint, but fouled out with 3:03 remianing. It’ll be interesting to see how Chicago takes advantage. Robinson finished with a career-high in points 14 with 10 boards and three blocks in a season-high 30 minutes. Seattle is down 71-69.
HOT STREAK: Bird is 7 of 8 from the field since missing her opening eight buckets in the first half. Sloot drove on Smith, however, watching the ball rim around the hoop before dropping. Sloot made the ensuing FT to give the Sky a 61-57 lead with 8:21 left in the game.
PROPS DJ: Gotta give it up to any DJ who plays “Percolator.” Always reminds me of the clubs in Detroit. He’s keeping it hyped inside the Allstate arena along with the drumline. The announced crowd is 6,026, which I think is really half that. But they’re having fun.
YOUR SERVE: OK, now Seattle’s offense is clicking. Bird and Smith have knocked down three-pointers to regain a small 55-52 lead with 9.5 seconds remaining in the third. The backcourts are definitely in the middle of a dual.
REPLAY: Sloot had some kind of rubber woman kind of play in a drive to the basket that. Was. Awesome. Prince also juked WIllingham for a jumper that has the Sky up 52-47 with 1:27 remaining in the third quarter. I’m so watching this game again.
QUICK RUN: The Sky has come out a little stronger, going 6-0 to regain the lead (37-33). The Storm’s once intimidating play in the paint is out of position, if there at all in transition plays. Agler called a timeout with 9:41 remaining in the third to discuss.
HALFTIME: A rare four-point play by Bird at the end of the half gave the Storm a 33-30 lead at the break. Seattle’s offense is improving, which is really the only area slowing them from taking control of the game. They’re handling themselves in the paint, Chicago’s dominate posts only outscoring them 18-12. The Storm iis outrebounding the Sky 22-18 and getting to the line with 13 attempts. It’s the nine three-point misses that hurt. Bird has missed two along with Katie Smith. Cash and Robinson lead with seven points apiece. Prince has six for the Sky, which is shooting 36.7 percent and has given up six points on nine turnovers.
CONGRATS SLOOT: Vandersloot was named a reserve for the All-Star game in San Antonio on July 23. She’s part of a record 10 first-time All-Stars. San Antonio rookie Danielle Adams was named for the West, putting my top three front-runners for ROY in the game (Minnesota’s Maya Moore was named a starter last week). You can read about all the players here.
SHE SCORES!: Was worried I jinxed Bird for a moment, mentioning lately that she was averaging a career-high in points. She screamed so she couldn’t hear what I was saying. She hit her first bucket with 2:51 on the clock to get her average back on track. Not that she wants to know that. Seattle is up 29-26, the Sky falling into form with the turnovers. Now they’re causing their own miscues sans help from the Storm, totaling nine.
TIP PLAY: A-Rob used her wing span to disrupt a Sky pass, forcing a turnover. Bird collected the ball and side-wind a pass low to Cash for a layin with 4:26 on the clock, giving Seattle a 27-26 lead. If only they kept deflections like in football, A-Rob is on the verge of a career night. A positive since Seattle has missed all six of its shots attempts and is shooting 32.1 percent from the field overall.
BLOCK THAT: A-Rob got the crowd to go “Ohhh!” by blocking Prince’s drive to the hoop all the way to the ground. Wright’s feed inside to A-Rob and a pair of free throws has Seattle back within 25-23 with 5:52 remaining in the half. Wright was called for a foul as she helped Robinson on defense, the team look like they want to smash Chicago like mosquitoes.
NO DRIVE: Bird bricked her eighth shot of the quarter, opting again to not drive to the hoop when open. She missed the shot pull-up jump that’s normally a trademark. Seattle could have gone ahead for the first time in the game due to a series of turnovers by both teams locking the score at 16. Instead Seattle is down 18-17 at the end of the first. Agler has played all of his posts to keep them fresh, but the lineup with Le’coe Willingham and Ewelina Kobryn or Krystal Thomas couldn’t take advantage of Fowles being out for a breather. Seattle was 5 of 19 from the field in the quarter while Chicago was 6 of 14. The Storm is getting to the FT line (7 of 8) and is outrebounding the Sky 14-7. But when you can’t shoot…
SLOOT!: It’ll be hard not to keep this a Storm-centric blog with the Kent-based Vandersloot whipping eye-popping passes around the court like this. The rookie has leaped high to zip a pass to reserve Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton and Fowles in the paint, giving the Sky a 14-8 lead with 5:25 remaining in the opening quarter. Bird, meanwhile is 0-for-4 to start the game, but A-Rob has helped Seattle get on the board and stay in the game. Turnovers and missed baskets, this time challenge, is Seattle’s issue. Again.
Storm coach Brian Agler changed his starting lineup, again, this time inserting C Ashley Robinson in with Camille Little, who returned from an excused absence. Robinson has played well of late and can help Seattle defend Chicago C Sylvia Fowles, who’s 6-foot-6 and was named Player of the Week for the Eastern Conference on Monday.
“If you look at Ashley’s game, you consider her more athletic, more of a defensive player, but she knows our system,” Agler said. “In her own way, she can do a lot of good things. But we’re getting in some lulls through the course of the game that we need to stay out of.”
Robinson, 6-4, has started 28 games in her eight-year career. Her last start for Seattle was in 2009 when Lauren Jackson was injured. But she’s averaged 4.4 points and 4.4 rebounds off the bench in her past five games.
Tuesday’s matchup at Allstate Arena on ESPN2 marks the end of a three-game road trip for the Storm (7-6). And in each loss, the Storm has stalled offensively. On Saturday in Minnesota, it led to a 22-2 Lynx run midway through the game. Seattle rallied with its own big run, but it hardly mattered when it was previously throwing up airballs and turning the ball over.
Agler led the team through a tough practice on Monday and said energy is high. The Storm has also spent more time together than expected because of the boondocks location of their hotel where the posh Capital Grille is the only eating option in walking distance.
And you don’t want to walk in this weather, the Midwest going through a well documented heatwave. It’ll be about 95 degrees when the game is over. No joke.
Will the Storm bring some heat to the court against the Sky (7-8), which is 6-2 at home? Let’s get it started with your starting lineups:
F Swin cash
F Camille Little
C Ashley Robinson
G Sue Bird
G Tanisha Wright
F Cathrine Kraayeveld
F Michelle Snow
C Sylvia Fowles
G Courtney Vandersloot
G Epiphanny Prince

Tonight’s officials are
Eric Brewton, Angelica Suffren, and Tom Mauer.



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