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August 23, 2011 at 7:10 PM

Game thread: San Antonio at Seattle

STORM WINS: Seattle held Hammon to a season-low four points with five assists in holding on to win 63-55 before 6,559 at KeyArena. Coupled with Phoenix’s four-point loss to New York (sans Diana Taurasi) on Tuesday, Seattle moves within a half-game of the Mercury’s hold on second place in the Western Conference. The Storm gave itself a 1.5-game lead on San Antonio for third place in standings, taking the season series lead 3-1 with one game remaining in September. Defense and interior work were the keys to the game, Little getting a steal against Hammon with 52.9 seconds remaining and Smith smothering Jia Perkins’ three-pointer with 17.1 seconds left in the game. Jackson provided the early offensive boost, scoring six points in the quarter. The Storm opened the final stanza on a 10-4 run to take the lead. “She’s back, so we’ve got to get the ball inside and get her touches,” said Little of Jackson not returning from hip surgery in June to simply miss the postseason. “Her as well as Sue. It makes our team so much better when get them touches in the game.” Wright was a constant on Tuesday, finishing with a team-high 16 points and seven boards. Cash never really got going offensively, Agler saying he’s spoken to her once and trusts she’ll get out of her late-season slump. San Antonio is hoping it gets out of its slide, too. But it plays at Minnesota on Friday to complete it’s three-game road trip. San Antonio is on a four-game skid overall, last experiencing a win at KeyArena in 2007 — a span of eight games. “We outrebounded them for the first time in a while (36-35),” said Young, who had 14 points for her team . “We competed and we’re getting better. But getting better is not neccessarily good — we have to get there and win a couple games in the next stretch coming up because these games are very important to us.” The Silver Stars played without Danielle Adams (mid-foot sprain), who when healthy appeared to be a true contender for the Rookie of the Year award. She averaged 14.3 points in 15 games off the bench, which is second only to Hammon (16.6).
NO MONEY: The Storm needs some Cash right about now. She’s averaging 7.8 points in her past five games, below her 14.2 season average. The wing is leaving shots short. She does have eight rebounds as the Storm trails 41-42 headed into the final minutes of play. One of these teams might top Washington (51) for the league’s fewest points scored this season.
GETTING DIRTY: It’s becoming a simple formula, when the Storm get grimy with its interior defense, it wiggles its way ahead of the Silver Stars, denying them with blocks and limiting offensive boards. When they don’t? Let’s just say Seattle has gained a slight 41-40 lead with 1:58 remaining in the third quarter, playing solid defense, Little getting a key block and rebound. Reserve Katie Smith pulled Seattle ahead, hitting a short jumper.
HALFTIME: This isn’t an offensive show. The Storm is shooting 34.5 percent from the field as it trails 28-26 headed into the break. Hammon scored a late, 7-foot jumper to give her team the lead. Teammate Young leads all scorers with 10 points. The Storm has allowed the Silver Stars open lanes to the hoop inside and is allowing the visitors to outscore them 7-2 on second-chance shot opportunities. When Seattle built its early lead, those were two aspects they had shut down. Wright leads Seattle with eight points while Cash, who has been in a slump in four of her past five games, hasn’t scored a point. The All-Star does have seven boards.
HEY REF: There’s a hit out on the Storm, officials calling phantom fouls all over the place. The broken rhythm is helping the Silver Stars chip their way into the game with a 11-2 run to tie the score at 18 points apiece with 6:13 remaining in the second quarter. Former Storm guard Tully Bevilaqua nailed the tying three-pointer.
MILESTONE HIT: With a free throw, Bird nailed her 4,000th points of her 10-year career. She ranks 16th on the WNBA’s all-time scoring list. The Storm is up 16-7 and the officiating remains off.
NEW LOOK: The Storm is wearing the new Boost Mobile logo on the front of its jersey, below the numbers. The cellular company announced a multiyear deal with WNBA on Monday, but San Antonio (AT&T) and Phoenix (Verizon) will not wear the logo due to sponsor conflicts. On the court, Seattle is up 14-5, forming a blockade inside the paint on defense.
We’re late, but Seattle is on-point, C Lauren Jackson scoring the first points against San Antonio off a long jumper. he Storm can close the door on San Antonio with a win, the visitors already limping into KeyArena with a three-game losing streak.
Here are your starting lineups:
F Sophia Young
F Scholanda Robinson
C Ruth Riley
G Becky Hammon
G Danielle Robinson
F Swin Cash
F Camille Little
C Lauren Jackson
G Sue Bird
G Tanisha Wright
Tonight’s officials are Denise Brooks, Felicia Grinter and Tom Mauer.



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