GAME OVER — Seattle 80-61.
BLOWOUT CITY — This game hasn’t been competitive in a long time. Agler has emptied his bench. Seattle 77-55, 3:12.
THIRD QUARTER ENDS — What a period for the Storm. They dominated the Mercury in every fashion. Taurasi is out of the game and I’m not sure she’ll return. Seattle 69-42.
TAURASI TECHNICAL — Taurasi picked up a technical. Not sure what she did. She doesn’t seem to know either. Apparently she said something to an official after being fouled. Seattle 49-36, 7:44.
TAYLOR HURTING — Not sure how hit happened, but Taylor appears to have tweaked her back. She’s out of the game.
INJURY UPDATE — Phoenix center Nakia Sanford has a sore right knee. Not sure if that’s why she’s not playing, but that’s the word from Seattle’s PR staff.
HALFTIME OBSERVATIONS — The Storm’s defense has held the high-scoring Mercury to 38.9 percent shooting and 31 points. At this pace, Phoenix scores 62 points, which is 27 below their season average. The Mercury led the league in scoring. In their last game, Seattle surrendered 36 points to Taurasi. Tonight she has eight.
Seattle has controlled the glass and is winning the rebound battle 26-16 thanks to Little and Cash who each have seven. Little has a game-high tying 11 points and she’s dominating the game at times. She’s exploiting Bonner in the middle for layups. She either spins around her or muscles in layups. It’s an amazing display of quickness, agility and strength.
Wright is the other early star. She’s darting into the lane for many of her 11 points. Jackson looks bothered by her hip injury, but she’s still been effective. She has nine points and four rebounds. Bird has been quiet. She has five points and no assists.
REIGN MAN — Shawn Kemp is making the rounds.
HALFTIME ENTERTAINMENT — Sounders FC’s the Sound Wave is performing.
HALFTIME — Seattle 40-31.
SEAHAWK NESTING — Seahawks receiver Mike Williams is sitting courtside.
LITTLE GOES OFF — On the next Storm possession, Little sank a layup despite a hard bump from Bonner. Seattle 32-25.
LITTLE TECHNICAL — Little drew a technical foul after running over Taurasi. She’s perplexed by the call, the fans don’t agree and they’re letting the refs know it. Seattle 29-25, 5:05.
MERCURY LEADS — Phoenix took its first lead (21-19) when Taurasi hit a long jumper. The Storm battled back and scored the next two baskets, but Taylor put the Mercury back on top with a three-pointer. Phoenix 24-23, 6:35.
FIRST QUARTER ENDS — The Storm had control of the game and were ahead 11-4 before Taurasi and Bonner went to work. Bonner has a game-high 10 points and Taurasi has 5. Little has 8 and Jackson 5. The Storm is shooting 25 percent (5 of 20) from the field while the Mercury is 44.4 (8 of 18). Seattle 19-19.
MORE SUBS — Le’co Willingham is in for Jackson. Seattle 13-7, 4:25.
SHE’S GOT PERSONALITY — Taurasi stared down the official after being whistled for an obvious foul. On the next possession, she drained a three and gestured at the ref again. She’s fiery. Seattle, 4:27.
FIRST SUB — Katie Smith is in for Wright. Seattle 11-4, 5:20.
NICE START — Seattle 9-2, 6:32.
FIRST PLAY — The Storm started the game with a play for Jackson, but she missed a short jumper on the baseline. No score just yet with about 9:11 to go.
HALL OF FAMER IN THE HOUSE — The Coach … Lenny Wilkens walked in and took a courtside seat near midcourt.
DECENT CROWD — There’s a few empty red seats with about four minutes to go before the start. Still the fans are loud and engaged.
LATE START — We’re starting about six minutes later than normal because the Indiana-New York game on ESPN2 is running long. There’s about 2:30 left in that game.
PRE-GAME CHAT WITH AGLER — Had a chance to talk to coach Brian Agler. Here’s the transcript of the interview.
“We have to focus on getting better. I don’t think our team has hit it’s stride yet for a variety of reasons. We don’t have a lot of time to get better in regards to practice so you have to get in regards to your matchups, a lot of film watching and walk throughs and things of nature. We focus on that. Right now we have to take the information we got from the four games we played them this year.”
(What type of performance will you get from Jackson?) “I don’t know what kind of production because it’s hard to predict those things. I know you’ll see more energy out of her.”
(How do you matchup against Phoenix?) “We feel like we’re not bad offensively and I think they’ve gotten a lot better defensively in scheming and different things. It’s going to be a very competitive series.”
(In a best-of-three series, how important is winning Game 1?) “It’s critical. I think the pressure is probably on us right now in Game 1. They know they got another home game coming in a couple of days. Obviously the pressure is on the home team.”
(You prefer this home-and-away format or the old away-and-two-home-game format?) “Definitely this format. This is much better for the home team.”
(More travel though.) “It’s a fairer way to treat the higher seed.”
(What do you think about momentum. Seattle has won eight of the past nine while Phoenix is riding a two-game losing streak.) “I’m glad that we’ve won games later. I don’t consider that an advantage because you just never know. There’s a lot of factors that play into it. They weren’t 100 percent. They weren’t playing all of their starters. They were on back to back. They played three games in four days to end the season.”
(What keeps you up at night?) “There’s a lot of things you’re concerned about as a coach. You got to really trust your team, which I do. There’s some intangible things that we can do a really good job on and still not control. And their ability to score is one of them.”
(When Jackson was coming back from her hip injury, you put her on a playing time limit of about 20 games. Do you keep that?) “I think we’ll gauge it on her. We’ll sort of see how she’s playing. We can sort of tell when she gets winded out there. I know for a fact that she’ll want to play as much as she can. I do know that. Now whether that factors into our decision making, I don’t know that.”
(Do you factor in the short recovery time until Saturday’s game?) “A little bit because the one thing we have to gauge with her right now is it’s not necessary how she feels during the course of a game, it’s how she’s going to recover from game to game. With only one day in between, that’s not a lot of time.”
STARTING LINEUP — No change for the Storm. Guards Sue Bird, Tanisha Wright, forwards Swin Cash and Camille Little and center Lauren Jackson.
Phoenix: G Diana Taurasi, G Temeka Johnson, F Candice Dupree, F Penny Taylor and C DeWanna Bonner. Bonner is starting in place of Nakia Sanford.
ON TV — You can find the game on ESPN2. We’re about 30 minutes before tip off.