Friday, August 04, 2006

8/3 Storm vs. Monarchs

I don't have my handy dandy spreadsheets to run stats, but I should have my recovered data in time to recap the season and look ahead to the playoffs.

Last nights game was a return to the Storm of old, at least for a little while. The Storm tried to lower their magic number from 4 last night as they took on the Mystics who have a lock on a playoff spot in the East. The Mystics are a much stronger team with Nikki Teasley coming over from the Sparks, adding some ball handling and passing skills (not to mention penetration and 3 point shooting) to the scoring of Delisha Milton-Jones and Alana Beard. Adding the veteran leadership of Crystal Robinson from the Liberty off the bench can't have hurt either. The Mystics surged to a one point lead at the half despite starting the game down by 10 through a balanced attack from Beard, Milton-Jones, and Nakia Sanford.

The Storm found their way in the second half, however as Lauren Jackson finally got some help from Janell Burse in the third quarter and Iziane Castro Marques in the fourth. Izi also played some stellar defense in the second half holding DMJ to 3 points. This all would have been moot, however, if Sue Bird hadn't continued her outstanding transition defense. She stopped Mystics star Alana Beard (who filled in for LJ on the Canberra Capitals this offseason) on a 1 on 1 fast break in the fourth quarter with 3:07 left in the game and the Storm up by 3. Lennox had missed a jumper and Beard rebounded taking the length of the floor. Sue ran backwards in front of Beard, forcing the left hander to her right, and anticipated her spin to the left, leaping in front of Beard and stripping the ball. The steal didn't lead to any Storm points on that possession as Izi missed a jumper, but it energized the crowd and turned the emotions of the game back into the Storm's favor. The Storm hit two jumpers and Sue Bird locked up the win at the free line from that point forward as the Mystics struggled to find a good shot in limited time. I commented earlier in the year at Sue's excellent transition defense but it was nice to hear Elise Woodward agree with me on the post game show heard from my car on the way home last night. Sue may have defensive weaknesses (ok, of course she does) but the fast break is not one of them. She has stopped guaranteed scoring on the break a number of times over the past two years that I have been watching closely.

Random Notes
Richie Adubato gets a different set of rules. The man was on the court all night long...often two or three steps onto the court and never got called for it. He came out to mid court after Sue got whacked in the nose to complain about who knows what and the refs looked the other way.

Bryan Enterline STINKS. The game was completely lopsided with the fouls favoring one team or the other based on where Enterline was on the play. The Mystics got the benefit in the first half with him on the Storm end of the floor ignoring fouls while the Storm got the benefit in the second half when the teams switched baskets. He mad grossly erroneous out of bounds calls, phantom fouls and then blatantly ignored actual fouls for both teams. The man needs a new job.

Lauren Jackson played through considerable pain in the second half. Every free throw showed her focus, her agony and her refusal to stop playing. The Storm better lock up the playoffs so the woman can take a break.

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