STORM WINS: The Storm defeated Phoenix 72-58.
CHECKING OUT: Leaving the blog to write the newspaper version of the game. My computer is out of juice (rookie mistake) so I won’t be back for a final wrap. I’m stealling energy from columnist Jerry Brewer now. The Storm is up 70-55 with 2:30 remaining in the game. Little is the Storm’s leading scorer with 17 points. Wright has eight assists. Phoenix’s losing streak is now seven games. Seattle improves to 10-10.
ZIP LINE: Smith collected a rebound and whipped the ball down court to Abrosimova, who zipped it inside to Clark for one of the highlight plays of the night. The layin at the 1:21 mark gave the Storm a 51-40 lead, largest of the game.
BIRD OUT: Bird was diagnosed with stomach flu and will not return.
CHECK THAT: Bird doesn’t seem to be on the bench. We’re checking it out. Seattle is up 43-36 with 5:00 remaining in the quarter.
ALL IN: Agler is ridding out the rotations without Bird on the court. Smith made it work with a three-pointer to open the third quarter. Abrosimova is starting in Bird’s place. The Storm is up 37-31 after a basket underneath by Bonner.
NO BIRD: The Storm outscored the Mercury 15-5 to close the second quarter for a 34-29 lead at the break. What was impressive about the run, aside from the teamwork, was Seattle doing it without Bird on the floor. She played 10 minutes in the opening half. Wright has ran the team well, collecting four assists and three steals to go with six points in the first half. Little has a team-leading 10 points for Seattle. Prahalis, the victim of Wright’s smothering defense has 11 points and three turnovers, often looking for officials to call a foul.
RUNNING: The Storm pieced together a small 6-0 run with some solid plays you hope stick as the season progresses. Wright hit Stricklen for a second backdoor cut of the game to build a 27-24 lead with 4:02 on the clock. Strick has seven off the bench while Little leads the team with 10.
TIME: After a turnover by Clark and a made bucket from Hornbuckle, Agler decided he’d seen enough. He called a timeout quickly after the teams already had a break. Seattle is down 24-19 with 5:47 on the clock.
DISJOINTED: There’s some scrapping around for lose balls and flashes of nice playes or defense, but the rust is apparent from everyone. Bird is even huffing and puffing. She played nine minutes in the first quarter and Little played all 10. In the second quarter, the Mercury are up 20-19 and gaining confidence with some calls going their way. Rookie Prahalis leads with nine points.
HELLO, AGAIN: Former Storm coach Anne Donovan sat courtside at Thursday’s game. She’s currently a head coach at Seton Hall. Donovan led Seattle to its first championship in 2004, also becoming the first and only woman in the WNBA to do so. Seattle leads 17-16 at the end of the opening quarter.
NEW ROTATION: In a twist, Storm reserves Alysha Clark and Svetlana Abrosimova were the first off the bench at the 5:30 mark of the first quarter. Tina Thomson, the normal top reserve entered with Shekinna Stricklen at the 3:19 mark. Seattle is up 15-14 with one minute left.
PRE-GAME CHAT: Sports-Arena Investor Chris Hansen made his first trip to KeyArena of the Storm season, chatting with the Storm ownership group, Force 10 Hoops, and CEO/President Karen Bryant prior to the game. The team has been in talks with Hansen to be sure needs are met in Hansen’s future plans for the current facility if the new arena is approved.
NEW VOICE: Kong is borrowing favorites Dick Fain and Adia Barnes for its televised broadcast of the game Thursday, so there’s a new voice on the call for radio. That’s Gary Hill, who normally works in the studio for Mariners games. He’ll do three games this season.
GOLDEN: Bird was honored prior to the game for helping Team USA win an unprecedented fifth consecutive gold medal, preserving a 41-game win streak. Bird showed her medal to the crowd, which gave her a standing ovation. Co-owner of the Storm, Dawn Trudeau, later had a photo op wearing the medal.
Excuse the mess. Phoenix and Seattle may be under a little visible construction as the second part of the WNBA season tips-off Thursday night at KeyArena.
The Mercury (4-15) only traveled eight players to Seattle, losing Alexis Gary-Lawson to a sprained ankle this week in practice. Olympian Diana Taruasi isn’t with the team due to travel from the London Games. Posts Candace Dupree and Charde Houston are out, undergoing knee surgeries in July.
It leaves Phoenix coach Corey Gaines wondering what the team will be like in the second part of the season. The Mercury are already on a six-game losing streak, barely ahead of Tulsa for last in the Western Conference.
“They (the players) seem to be in a good place,” Gaines said prior to the matchup. “It’s just bad luck.”
Gaines is questionable whether Taurasi will play when she does return to practice. The two have only communicated via text. Gaines wants Phoenix doctors to evaluate the hip injury that caused her to miss all but two games to start the WNBA season. A three-time Olympian, Taurasi did start every game in London, but was hampered by foul trouble and cold shooting.
“When we get back in town, we’ll talk to her and go from there,” Gaines said. “The main thing is she has to see our doctors first. They have to check her out and clear her. Overseas it’s different…of course they say they’re fine because they’re clearing them for their insurance. For us, our doctors have to see it and say it’s OK.”
On the Storm side, coach Brian Agler said the team could have more turnovers than expected because of the monthlong hiatus for the Olympics. The team still has injuries to C Ann Wauters (Achilles) but F Tina Thompson will play minutes and wing Alysha Clark could play in the post to balance voids there.
Seattle is 9-10 to open the final 15 games. The team is fourth in the Western Conference for the final playoff spot.
“There’s uncertainty out there just because they haven’t played in so long,” Agler said. “I’m watching some of these (Eastern Conference) games and New York is up on Connecticut. Part of it is because they had their whole team there practicing. I thin k that probably makes a difference.”
New York won that game 79-66 with Olympian Tina Charles playing 26 minutes. We’ll see what the Storm and Mercury reveal at KeyArena.
It all starts with the opening lineups:
F DeWanna Bonner
F Avery Warley
C Krystal Thomas
G Alexis Hornbuckle
G Samantha Prahlis
F Katie Smith
F Camille Little
C Ewelina Kobryn
G Sue Bird
G Tanisha Wright
Tonight’s officials are Clarke Stevens, Michael Price, and Tony Dawkins.