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September 9, 2011 at 6:23 PM

Phoenix game thread

IT’S OVER — Storm 85-70.
HANGING ON — Seattle 78-68, 1:59.
SLOWING DOWN — Got to slow down on the blog to write the game story. Bird just drained a three-pointer. Seattle 67-58, 5:58.
ROLE PLAYERS’ TURN — The stars are on the bench and the role players have starred for the past four minutes to start the fourth quarter. Edge: Storm. Seattle leads 64-58 with 6:18 left.
THIRD QUARTER ENDS — Seattle 58-56.
SEASON’S BEST — Smith has scored a season-high 26 points, while Taurasi has 32 to tie her season’s best. Seattle 57-56, 1:11.
SMITH ON FIRE AGAIN — Smith knocked down consecutive three-pointers. She’s also scored eight points during a 10-0 run. Phoenix called timeout. Seattle 47-46, 6-11.
NOTES — Taurasi’s 28 points were three shy of the WNBA record for points in a half. Her six three-pointers tied the league reocr for three-pointers in a half.
WNBA RECORD — Just checked the record book and Taurasi and Jackson hold the league record for points in a game with 47.
NICE APPLAUSE — The fans showered former Storm Simone Edwards with thunderous applause during a break.
GETTING PHYSICAL — If you can’t stop ’em, beat ’em up. Seattle has fouled Taurasi on back-to-back possessions. Little fouled her on a three-pointer and Wright knocked her down. Phoenix 46-37, 8:13.
HALFTIME OBSERVATIONS — This one is fairly simple. If the Storm can’t slow down Taurasi, then they won’t win. She’s been incredible. She’s on pace to smash her season high of 47. Not sure just yet what the WNBA all-time high is, but Taurasi has 28 and she’s got a half to go after the record.
Seattle is shooting 36.1 percent from the field. Jackson has been nonexistent on the offensive end. She appears a step slow. She’s 0 for 4 for two points. Bird has been just as bad shooting 1 for 5 for two points. Cash has only been slight better with four points.
Smith has been the team’s savior with 15 points.
HALFTIME STATS — Click here.
HALFTIME — Phoenix 41-35.


GETTING HEATED — Smith snatched a rebound away from Taurasi, but was given a technical foul on the play. Taurasi drew a personal foul, her third. Smith is showing a little fight, which is needed for the Storm. Taurasi seems to have them mesmerized. She’s got 28 points on 9-for-13 shooting. Phoenix 39-35, 2:05.
TAURASI UNSTOPPABLE — The Storm has no answer for Taurasi. Several players (Cash, Willingham and Smith) have tried to defend her, but she just backs up and drains long jumper after long jumper. She has a game-high 16 points. Seattle 31-25, 5:47.
SMITH AGAIN — Smith drained another three-pointer. She has 15 points, one shy of her season high. Seattle 24-20, 8:36.
FIRST QUARTER ENDS — Seattle 21-15. Smith is the early star. She drained a three-pointer. She beat Taurasi for a dribble drive layup. She’s been knocked to the floor on hard fouls. She’s sank all three free throws. And she’s given the Storm an unexpected boost offensively.
Phoenix struggles when forced to play in the half court. Taurasi can only freelance so much. She’s great in transition, but is limited in a set offense.
Jackson is also controlling the middle defensively.
SMITH WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? — Smith is putting on a show. She has a game-high 12 points, which is the most for her in the past seven games. Seattle 21-15.
FIRST SUBS — Katie Smith and Le’coe Willingham checked in. Both hit three-pointers on consecutive possessions. First Smith, then Willingham. If not for Taurasi, who has eight points, this game would be an early blowout. Seattle 10-10, 4:04.
AWFUL SHOOTING — The Storm is shooting 2 for 9 from the field. Phoenix 7-4, 5:02.
TAURASI GETS ONE — Taurasi picked up a foul trying to keep Jackson out of the paint. Seattle 2-2, 6:51.
EARLY FOUL — Jackson and Sanford picked up the game’s first fouls with 9:18 to go. Phoenix 2-0.
ROLL CALL — The Storm are being introduced. It’s impossible to tell who gets the loudest ovations. However, fans love Jackson, Cash and Bird.
JACKSON’S IMPACT — The Storm has allowed 69.8 points per game this season. In the past seven games since Jackson has returned from left hip surgery, Seattle opponents are averaging 62 points. Jackson is nowhere near 100 percent, but Agler noted she’s still having an impact on the game. “With Lauren back, it makes us tougher to score on,” he said.
ON THE COURT — Both teams are on the floor and the lower bowl is about 2/3 full. We got about 15 minutes until tipoff.
I’M NOT JAYDA — Just had a group of fun-loving fans heckle me because I’m sitting in Jayda Evans’ seat. For those who don’t know, Jayda is away for awhile.
HALL OF FAMER IN THE HOUSE — NBA legend Bill Russell just walked in with his daughter and took a courtside seat. The 77-year-old great looks awesome.
SEE YOU NEXT WEEK — Here’s a look at the playoff schedule. The No. 2 seed hosts Games 1 and 3.
Game 1 – Sept. 15, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Game 2 – Sept. 17, 7 p.m. (NBA TV)
Game 3 (if necessary) – Sept. 19, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
PLAYOFF SCENARIOS — So there’s a lot at stake tonight. For Seattle, it’s simple. Win and the Storm locks up the No. 2 playoff seed and home-court advantage in the first round next week against Phoenix. If Seattle loses, it gets a little more complicated. Here’s a simple way to look at things. Both teams have a 19-13 record with two games left. If they tie, Seattle wins the No. 2 seed.
STARTING LINEUPS — Seattle: F Swin Cash, F Camille Little, C Lauren Jackson, G Sue Bird and G Tanisha Wright. This lineup is 8-3 this season.
Phoenix: F DeWanna Bonner, F Candice Dupree, C Nakia Sanford, G Temeka Johnson and G Diana Taurasi.
KEYS TO THE GAME — Agler thinks the Storm will need to play at two speeds offensively. He said the team has to pick and choose the times it wants to run and play in the half court. Rebounding on the both ends of the court is essential as well as eliminating Phoenix’s second-shot scoring opportunities.
PREGAME TALK — Had a chance to chat with coach Brian Agler and mostly we dished about Sue Bird. I asked about her MVP candidacy and Agler said he believes the 7-time All-Star should be in the conversation. Said Agler: “She could have won it one or two other times.” In 2008, Bird finished third in the voting and many believe that’s where she’ll finish this year behind Chicago’s Sylvia Fowles and Connecticut’s Tina Charles.
TV/RADIO — Tonight’s game is on KONG TV and KPTK 1090-AM radio.

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