Seattle Storm shows city still loves good basketball
In taking a 2-0 lead over Atlanta, these Storm players reminded the crowd at KeyArena just how important professional basketball is to this town.
Seattle Times staff columnist
They awakened the echoes inside KeyArena. They made this new/old barn shake in a way it hasn't since 2005.
It virtually was seismic.
These Storm players reminded the 13,898 inside the Key's caldron just how important professional basketball is to this town.
During this playoff run, the Key has felt like May in September. It was loud and it was kinetic, a blizzard of white, waving towels.
In Tuesday's last seconds, after Swin Cash missed the second of two free throws and it appeared Atlanta would have one more chance to tie the score, there was a brief hush in the place that quickly turned volcanic when the final buzzer blared.
The Storm took a 2-0 lead in this best-of-five WNBA Finals Tuesday with an 87-84 win in a game that was played frenetically from the get-go.
It was a game so good you wish this were a best-of-seven, because even though the Storm is better, the Dream doesn't disappear.
Atlanta fell behind by eight late in the first half, but it retook the lead with a 10-0 run early in the third quarter.
It was down eight again in the final two minutes, but closed the gap with one last furious rush before the lights finally went out on Georgia.
This was the kind of game you would expect in a championship series. Nothing came easily. Every drive to the basket guaranteed a bruise.
It was another example of the evolution of the women's game. The game has grown and deserves better exposure than this series is getting.
Tanisha Wright spun off a screen at the elbow and rolled to the hole early in the fourth. And Cash squared up and sweetly hit a three from the corner with two minutes left to play.
Lauren Jackson ruled the paint like an ogre. Sue Bird remained one of the best point guards playing the game.
And the crowd celebrated with the kind of joy that always was KeyArena's trademark.
This city still loves good basketball.
It's no coincidence that the Storm has won all 21 games it has played at the Key this season. There is the same relationship with this team that the town had for all of the Sonics' playoff teams.
The NBA doesn't like to admit it, but Seattle still is a great hoops town. And the Storm is as good as any team this city has seen, male or female.
It will win its second title for Seattle, something that should be celebrated by every red-blooded basketball fan in the city.
This team is so deep and talented, it is a scout's nightmare. Like a starter with four deadly pitches, there is no sure way to get to the Storm.
How do you defend against this team? Which player do you leave to double the 6-foot-5 Jackson? How can you rotate fast enough to get from Point A to Point B to stop some other dangerous Storm shooter with a hot hand?
The Storm practically is perfectly put together. It can come at you from so many angles. It can beat you in so many different ways.
This team fills in all the blanks on the stat sheet.
On Tuesday night, Jackson had 26 points, took 17 free throws and grabbed 7 rebounds. Cash, who spent much of the first game on the bench in foul trouble, made 6 of 10 from the field, had three assists and helped hold Dream star Angel McCoughtry to 7-of-23 shooting.
Guard Tanisha Wright had 17 points and five steals. Center Camille Little had nine points and nine rebounds. And, even though Bird had only 10 points and five assists, she kept the Storm composed against the Dream's frenzied defense.
The stars of this team are obvious: Jackson, Bird, Cash. But this is a team that is so much more than its stars.
It's Wright beating the shot clock with a soft three late in the first half, then following that with another three 30 seconds later.
And it's Little scoring and drawing the fourth foul on McCoughtry, giving Seattle a late 77-69 lead.
In that final quarter, Wright and Little, Jackson and Bird fearlessly drove into the teeth of the hardhearted Atlanta defense time after time, knowing they were going to get hit.
They got to the free-throw line and clinched the game there.
Everybody has a role on the Storm.
That's how it has been this summer in Seattle. And this is how this city responds to a team this good.
Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176
About Steve Kelley
Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation.
firstname.lastname@example.org | 206-464-2176
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.
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