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June 17, 2012 at 5:25 PM

Live game thread: undefeated Minnesota at Seattle

STORM WINS: The Storm appeared to exorcise its own faults in addition to stopping an impressive start to Minnesota’s season at 10-0. Seattle win 65-62 at KeyArena, getting two massive rebounds from Thompson to salvage a once 17-point lead. “You’re seeing more and more of our toughness and rebounding,” Storm guard Katie Smith said. She had a key three-pointer late in the fourth quarter when Seattle’s offense stalled. “It’s not always pretty but we’re definitely matching whatever is coming our way.” The Storm held the Lynx to a season-low 37.5 percent from the field, Moore trying to win the game on a three-pointer with one second left. It brushed the front of the net as time expired. “I felt like it was on target, just a little short” she said afterward. “With one second, having to inbound it and catch and shoot, I thought it was a great look. But it shouldn’t have come down to that.” Reeve was still peeved after the game, saying all was lost in the first half when her team was repeatedly “punched in the face” and didn’t respond until after halftime. It was interesting to watch the Lynx succumb to the environment in that manner, but knowing they had the depth to rally back. Augustus scored 10 of her final 12 points after the break, Wright keeping her on lock down. In the end, Seattle did all the little things to win. Bird led all scorers with 21 points, making five three-pointers. Wright had 12 with eight assists. Seattle (3-7), which moved into fourth place in Western Conference standings, plays against Friday when it hosts San Antonio (4-4).
BREAKTIME: Seattle is shooting 51.1 percent from the field and leads by 13. Even though the team has had colossal collapses before this season, I’m going to guess the Storm can hold on to this one. I’m off to write the daily version and will be back with a wrap after the game. Bird leads all scores with 21 points and no Lynx player has reach double digits in anything other than misses.
MONEY: Well, Augustus popped a three-pointer to cut the lead to 52-44, but Bird quickly answered with a jump shot to get the lead going. The game is getting more intense, but Seattle is handling it. Like with a three-pointer by Bird that slipped through the net without touch any nylon. Seattle now up 57-44.
CRACKING?: Thompson snapped her head and gave a quick stare down toward Lynx reserve Candice Wiggins, who got a little dirty play in on defense. Reeve called timeout to cool tempers on her visibly frustrated team. WIggins smacked her seat cushion before sitting down. It’s real physical on the court, but no more so than the games in Minnesota. The difference is Seattle has finally learned to play through it. Seattle up 52-37 with 3:07 on the clock.

PAYBACK: Unlike the games in Minnesota, when the Lynx crept within 10 points, the Storm had answers to keep the lead. One was a pretty layin by Wauters and another was a three-pointer by Bird. Seattle is up 50-37 with 4:20 left in the third quarter.
GOOD START: Moore and Brunson made their buckets to get Minnesota excited at the start of the second half. But Wright banked in a jumper as the shot-clock buzzer sounded to signal the Storm is still hot. Seattle is up 46-34 with 7:44 remaining in the third quarter.
HALFTIME: The Storm leads 43-29 at the break, the backcourt duo of Bird (13 points) and Wright (10) leading in scoring while everybody has hit the boards to outwork Minnesota 15-14 under the hoop. The Lynx still aren’t close to its WNBA-leading 51.2 percent from the field, held to 35.5 percent and committing nine turnovers for 13 Seattle points. The Lynx have been down in games before, so there’s no guarantee the big lead will hold for the Storm. But Seattle is playing its best team game since the loss to Los Angeles earlier this month. The halftime entertainment was a cheer group whose big finale was dancing with their Dads.
KEY BOARD: Wauters grabbed the needed rebound to reach 1,000 for her career.
TECH: Reeve blew up at Inouye, getting a technical foul. Bird missed the ensuing FT but Reeve wasn’t done with her argument. After spewing some words not appropriate for print, she spent nearly half a timeout talking to Inouye with the Lynx staff surrounding her. The spirited display has Minnesota playing with a little more fire, piecing together a 8-4 run to creep within 34-32 with 2:46 remaining in the first half.
BENCHMARK: Wauters is still looking to hit a WNBA benchmark, needing eight points to reach her 2,000 career and one rebound to get 1,000.
TIME!: Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve demanded a timeout after Bird entered the game and promptly nailed her second three-pointer of the game. She’s a hot 3-for-4 from the field for a game-high eight points. The Lynx are getting the same looks they did in Minnesota against Seattle and the Lynx are getting outscored 10-6 in the paint. Part of that is from the play of reserve Eva Kobryn, who’s really playing well her second season in the WNBA. Seattle is on a 8-2 run.
BIG IMPROVEMENT: After a quarter of play, the Storm is up 16-10. It’s a massive turnaround from the 25-8 deficit Seattle face in the June 6 loss. Wright leads with six points and BIrd has five off the bench. Seattle’s defensive has frustrated Augustus into 1-for-5 shooting, seven turnovers for eight points and 25 percent shooting overall (4-for-16).
TREY BIEN: Bird nailed a three-pointer with 4:12 on the clock and the Storm has its largest lead of the season against the Lynx at 13-8. Wright is handling the ball more at the point, freeing up Bird to shoot more. Agler has also been quicker with his substitutions. But Seattle is still getting worked on the boards 8-3.
WRIGHT STUFF: With the help of teammates, Wright is keeping the Storm off to one of its more aggressive starts this season. She has four points and Seattle has forced three Lynx turnovers. Seattle leads 8-6 with 6:04 left.
FIRST PLAY: After a little indecision by Wright with the ball on offense, which ended up in a missed shot, Wright and Bird combined to cause a turnover on defense. Bird laid it in for a good start for Seattle. The score is tied at two points apiece and Tina Thompson has checked in for Little with 8:04 left in the first quarter.
Father’s Day started off good for Storm coach Brian Agler, whose family arrived Sunday morning. But even in his Queen Anne and KeyArena home he felt surrounded by strange places.
“I just saw Victoria (Dunlap) in her white uniform and I thought she looked weird and it’s cause she had the white uniform on,” said Agler whose team been on the road the past two weeks, wearing green uniform as it made five WNBA stops.
Seattle returns with a 1-4 record from the stint, getting its lone win against Tulsa on Friday. Off to the worst start in franchise history, Agler said aside from the struggles that he’s seeing improvement within the team.
The Storm (2-7) hosts the undefeated Minnesota (10-0) on Sunday. The Lynx, which are off to the best start in WNBA history, have defeated the Storm by an average of 18.5 points in two wins at the Target Center earlier this season.
The most recent was a 79-55 decision on June 6 where lack of depth and strength inside was exposed against Minnesota’s lineup. And All-Star Seimone Augustus didn’t play due to a strained quad.
“I think we’re making progress,” Agler said. “We’re sharing the ball better. We’re moving the ball and I think we’re playing both sides of the floor better. We’re attacking the rim more. Defensively we still have a ways to go but I see that we’re a little bit more proactive on our rotations.”
Tulsa got its first win of the season, defeating Phoenix 87-75 on Sunday. Maybe there’s hope the Storm can stop the Lynx and beat someone other than the Shock?
“I’m focusing on what we need to do to have success,” Agler quipped. “In regards to stopping a streak, I don’t consider that.”
Here are your starting lineups:
F Maya Moore
F Rebekkah Brunson
C Taj McWilliams-Franklin
G Lindsay Whalen
G Seimone Augustus
F Katie Smith
F Camille Little
C Ann Wauters
G Sue Bird
G Tanisha Wright
Tonight’s officials are Kurt Walker, Daryl Humphrey, and Cameron Inouye.

Comments | More in Game Thread, Storm | Topics: Minnesota


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