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July 21, 2011 at 6:29 PM

Game thread: San Antonio at Seattle

THOMAS CUT: Agler cut rookie Krystal Thomas after the game. A 6-foot-4 center, she was the Storm’s third-round draft pick. But with Jackson out and Seattle needing depth inside and off the bench, she became expendable. Kobryn, 29, is also adapting better despite being coached in English for the first time and this being the Polish center’s first time playing in the WNBA. Thomas averaged 2.8 minutes, not logging a point in six games.
STORM WINS: Don’t know what all this yapping is on Twitter about Wright’s play going downhill. She’s having another stellar season, leading Seattle in scoring three of the past four games. Thursday it was Wright’s 11 third-quarter points and three steals that shut the door on San Antonio. Seattle played its standard defense and hustled to the block to help outscore the Silver Stars 30-20 in the game. Plus the bench matched San Antonio’s play, scoring 23 points. In the last matchup, the Silver Stars outscored the Storm 47-13 off the bench. Were some of the young Silver Stars looking ahead to the All-Star break? Were they rattled by the Key? Or does Seattle need its crazies in order to play ball? The answers will be revealed in the second half of the season. For now, the Storm can chill with a winning record (8-7), handing a conference foe home with a loss. “It was a grind,” said Hammon, who had 11 points and five turnovers. “This is one of the most physical teams in the league, if not the most physical. We just didn’t handle it very well. It was one of those nights where everything went wrong.” Wright led all scorers with 17 points while Willingham and Smith combined for 15 points and five points off the bench. “We’ve always played well at home, for us we need to go on the road and figure how to win games,” said Cash, who had 15 points and nine rebounds. “Tonight was a must-win for us. Having just lost three on the road and going into a break, you want to go out on a high. We all knew with a win, it would keep us over .500 and that was the goal. We were able to get it done.” Seattle regroups in Phoenix on Sunday for practice and the second half of the season. The WNBA resumes play with five games lined up for Tuesday.
A FIRST: Rookie Ewelina Kobryn scored her first WNBA points, a turnaround jumper with 7:05 left in the game to give Seattle a 65-38 lead. Agler has pulled majority of his starters. Bird finishing with seven assists and two points on 1-for-4 shooting from the field.
TAKE THAT: How do you eat words printed on the web? Well, I’m virtually chomping down, G Katie Smith having a good night off the bench. She has eight points on 3-for-4 shooting from the field. The Storm leads 60-35 with 8:38 left in the game.
SHUTTING DOWN: There’s a dunk contest at halftime and I’m participating in the scoring along with Sonics legends Slick Watts and Shawn Kemp. NBA star Spencer Hawes and the Storm’s Kevin Pelton were also judges. Don’t ask how I filtered into that mix (gender equality? eye-candy?), but the blog is taking a break until the second half. San Antonio has gone on a mini 5-1 run to pull within 27-19 with 4:35 remaining in the half.
TECHNICAL MISHAP: Don’t know what was said, but Agler disrupted an incredible flow for the Storm, getting called for a technical foul with 7:08 on the clock. Posts A-Rob and Little were on the offensive rebounds, giving Seattle multiple chances to extend its lead. Instead, Jia Perkins hit the FT and Seattle missed its shot attempt afterward. Seattle is still up 26-14 with 5:31 remaining in the half — A-Rob hitting a sily jumper in the paint.
STORM LEADS: In a ending normally experienced in the fourth quarter, the Storm made six of its seven FT attempts in the waning 55 sections of the first quarter to build a 19-14 lead. Silver Stars rookies Danielle Robinson and Porsha Phillips were the guilty parties on the fouls as Seattle attempted shots. The fouls added strain to San Antonio shooting 29.4 percent in the opening quarter. Seattle is getting production from its bench, outscoring the visitors 6-0 to start the game. Little leads the team overall with six points while Ashley Robinson has three boards.
HOLLA: Shout out to Section 113 at the Key!
SCORE IT!: Can’t remember the last time Seattle made its opening bucket, so I’m writing about it. Cash on a three-pointer off a feed from Wright at the 9:38 mark. Add Little’s score in the paint and Seattle is up 5-0 with 8:37 remaining in the opening quarter.
REUNITED: The WNBA named San Antonio coach Dan Hughes as an All-Star coaching replacement for Storm assistant Nancy Darsch, who’s leaving after the game to tend to a personal matter. The nod reunites Hughes with Agler, the pair last working together in San Antonio. When Hughes underwent Achilles surgery, he gave Agler the head coaching role, the latter going 8-2 during the stint. Hughes also became a Agler pitchman after working with him for three seasons, helping the latter get the position in Seattle. “It brings back good memories,” Hughes said. “When you’re old like me, you don’t have too many memories left.”
QUICK TURNAROUND: For All-Star attendees Agler, Bird, Cash, assistant coach Jenny Boucek and trainer Tom Spencer, the illustrious game is a slight bugger. They’re leaving on a red-eye to San Antonio for Saturday’s game, giving them one night in Seattle the final three weeks of July. Seattle begins the second part of the season on a three-game road trip. “I don’t know if I’ve been associated with a month like this before,” said Agler of July, spending all day Wednesday doing laundry. “Tying it in with being a part of the All-Star game and having players that are going to be there. It’s demanding.”
Storm C Ashley Robinson added a purple streak to her hair just in time for the KeyArena debut of Seattle’s new look. Robinson will remaining in the starting lineup, accounting for a career-high 14 points and season-high 10 rebounds in a seven-point loss to Chicago on Tuesday.
The move is part reward for Robinson, who’s averaging 5.4 points on 60.6 percent shooting in her past five games. But previously starting F Le’coe Willingham while C Lauren Jackson rehabilitates from hip surgery, Storm coach Brian Agler is also starting Robinson to matchup against opponents.
Robinson, an eighth-year veteran, is 6-foot-4 while Willingham is 6-foot.
“She played well in Chicago and I hope she can sustain it,” Agler said. “She’s gradually being more productive at the offensive end. It’s a reward from the last game, but she proved something to us the last game and she give us more length at the rim.”
Agler remains uncertain whether he’ll keep the lineup after the All-Star break. It’s hard for anyone in the Storm camp to see past Thursday’s game and it’s importance.
Seattle is three-games back from first in Western Conference standings, but on a three-game slid that Los Angeles could use to leapfrog its rival. The Storm (7-7) plays eight games at home in August, but we all know real champions find a way to win on the road. Seattle is 2-5 away from KeyArena.
There are a HOST of reasons why Seattle can’t get it done. Obviously Jackson tops the list. Then there’s weak bench play, multiple turnovers in critical situations, and slacking with outside shots instead of driving to the hoop to draw fouls.
Agler said he had conversations with the guilty parties, which basically boils down to the entire team. Seattle has had one practice day within its past stretch of four games, so the corrections had to be made by seeing errors on tape.
One big thing Seattle could fix is its defense on San Antonio rookie Danielle Adams. She scored 15 fourth quarter points in helping the visiting Silver Stars (9-4) win the opening of the five-game series last week. Named an All-Star on Tuesday, we’ll see who’s got game at the Key — the newly anointed or the proven champions.
Let’s get it started with your starting lineups:
SILVER STARS
F Sophia Young
F Scholanda Robinson
C Ruth Riley
G Tully Bevilaqua
G Becky Hammon
STORM
F Swin Cash
F Camille Little
C Ashley Robinson
G Sue Bird
G Tanisha Wright
Tonight’s officials are Daryl Humphrey, Michael Price, and Jeff Wooten.

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