Monday, June 30, 2008
Tamera Young going to the Mary Ann look. Used with permission of SPMSportspage.com.
I'm going to start my summary with a rant.
As I began to follow the dream, I purchased NBA.TV as an adjunct to following the WNBA games. After all, there were WNBA games being cast on NBA.TV that were not being cast anywhere else. I've seen a few, so it's cheaper than a plane trip, let me tell you.
Given my radio problems (bad reception) and internet problems (DSL goes wonky when it's raining), I was looking forward to the news that Sunday's game between the Shock and the Dream would be televised on NBA.TV. I could flip the switch, and watch the game from the comfort of my couch.
So when 6 PM rolled around, I saw exactly five seconds of the Dream/Shock preview. And then the screen went black. I thought it was just the cable going out, or something I had done, so I futzed and fiddled with the remote.
And of course, it had just rained, so I figured that last night would be a repeat of the night before -- cut off from radio and internet, desperate to figure out how the dream was doing. I managed to get on the Atlanta Dream Message Board when Scarab informed me that the game was on CSS. (Comcast/Charter Southeast Sports)
Sure enough, there it was. I missed the first few baskets but I saw the game on TV, even though my internet was nonexistent.
Here's my question. I learned that NBA.TV basically blacked out the game. They blacked it out in Atlanta when it was being played in Detroit. Which makes no sense at all. How many people are going to travel from Atlanta to Detroit to watch the Dream take on the Shock? Most fans don't have that kind of scratch. You could probably number the traveling fans from between "zero" and "five".
On the other hand, the game is on local cable. I'm still trying to figure that one out.
1) No Cheryl Ford in this game. She had apparently tweaked her knee in Chicago, but we didn't find this out until halftime. This basically put only eight healthy bodies in Detroit against the entire Atlanta Dream.
2) Tamera Young was wearing pigtails. One more instance of the Dream trying to break this awful losing streak at the hair salon. (Maybe the Dream should spend less time at the hairdresser and more time at the practice court. Just saying.)
3) By the end of the first quarter, the Dream had the Lead, 24-21. Indeed, we probably had the lead for over half of the first quarter. We were facing a tired Detroit club and if I'm right, we were outrebounding them 10-6 at the end of the first. However, our ballhandling wasn't that great, as we were leading Detroit 6-3 in turnovers.
4) Tamera Young was defending Deanna Nolan in the second quarter and doing a fairly good job. However, Atlanta's rebounding power began to fall apart in the second quarter as the Shock's aching muscles began to loosen up. Kasha Terry came back onto the court, picked up a rebound -- and turned over the ball. Izi Castro Marques also had a turnover, and I thought that Atlanta was going to fall apart.
5) However, Izi began to pick up the offense for the Dream, and the Dream was also putting together a good defensive effort in the second quarter. Tamera Young was leading the Dream with 13 points at one time, and Stacy Lovelace had at least one blocked shot, 8 points and 5 rebounds.
6) However, Detroit went on a 7-1 run and took the lead back 44-42 on a Katie Smith 3-pointer.
7) Points in paint at one point in second quarter:
8) Kara Braxton, who would have a career game against the Dream, actaully got three offensive rebounds on the same attempt to score.
Miss-rebound-miss-rebound-miss-rebound-miss. Didn't get the shot.
Altanta capped off the second quarter with a three-pointer by Betty Lennox.
9) Ann Strother came in for some junk seconds late in the second half. Why? She played a grand total of six seconds.
10) By halftime, Tamera Young had 16 points, Izi Castro Marques had 9, and Latta, Lovelace and Lennox all had eight points. Young would be on her way to a career high game of 26 points. The Dream were shooting 52 percent from the field, compared to the Shock's 49.
The score was tied 51-51. It looked like the Dream were finally preparing to spread the ball around and not rely on Latta or Lennox to lead the way.
11) Katie Feenstra came in as center to start the third. She immediately racked pu two personal fouls. Foul trouble was the name of the game. Tamera Young got four fouls and sat down. Katie Smith of the Shock racked up her fourth personal. Latta would pick up her fourth personal at the beginning of the fourth.
12) A snippet of a conversation between Coach Marynell Meadors and the official scorer:
"...6-1...every play on second half, it happens."
I believe Meadors was talking about the team fouls charged to Atlanta in the third versus the ones charged to Detroit. Either she was criticising her players ("they've blown it again!") or the referees ("they screwed us again!").
13) Katie Smith was getting a lot of open looks. As Art said, the Atlanta defense was not "helping the helper". Detorit rolled off a 13-4 run which just killed us. Kasha Terry picked up her fourth personal foul as well.
14) There was a bizarre incident in the fourth. The referee blew a whistle against Atlanta before Katie Smith shot a three-pointer which went in...and then the refs, inexplicably, gave her credit for the basket. She got a plus-one against us that changed the score from 78-73 shock to 82-73 Shock. That was the point that we had to put Tamera Young back in.
15) By this time, Detroit was outscoring Atlanta in the paint 42-8.
16) We managed to close it to within four points at one time, to 93-89, with 1:56 left on the clock. By this time, Atlanta was raining down three pointers in an attempt to close the gap...and we were making most of them, too.
Detroit, however, could hit three pointers, too. Humphrey tried a three pointer and missed with 1:37 left. We went back on the other end. Lennox could have closed it to within two with 1:19 left, but missed the shot. Braxton got the rebound and seven seconds later, Hornbuckle hit a three-pointer to put the Shock up 96-89.
17) Katie Smith fouled Ivory Latta in the act of shooting. Latta made the shot, picked up the extra free throw, and we were down four again, 96-92.
18) The killer. With 41 seconds left, Nolan Made a jump shot to put the score 98-92 Shock. At the Dream end, Tamera Young had the ball stolen from her by Alexis Hornbuckle. Braxton would make another layup, the score was 100-92 with 27 seconds left, and we couldn't make any of our other shots. GAME OVER.
So what do we conclude? We had four players in double figures. Tamera Young had 26, a career high. Lennox had 22. Ivory Latta had 18. Izi Castro Marques had 14.
However, Detroit had 48 points in the paint, compared to Atlanta's 10. Detroit shot 52.1 percent, which is understandable. If you're only standing three feet away from the basket, you're going to make your shots. The inside game is a percentage game; the outside game is a "high-variance" game. If you're raining down three pointers and are just hot that night, you can beat a team with an outside game. If you're cold from the outside -- and an outside game is all you have -- you're screwed.
Atlanta attempted 28 three-pointers to Detroit's 16. Furthemore, we made half of our three-pointers, which kept us in the game. Detroit, however, only needed to play "just well enough" outside the arc. They could play inside. We either won't...or can't.
Atlanta basically has two guards (Lennox and Latta), one and a half forwards (Young, and Izi when she feels like it)....and nothing else. Feenstra once again disappeared, scoring 0 points in 8 1/2 minutes. Jennifer Lacy scored 2 points. Kasha Terry scored two points.
We have no inside presence. Hell, we have no inside game. Teams can...and will...come right into the paint against the Dream, knowing that the Dream are unable to stop them. The Dream are forced to play a perimeter game, because it's literally the only hope of the Dream scoring points.
Perimeter games -- games that depend on the hotness of three-point shots -- are high-variance games. When they work -- and they will work sometime this year -- they can beat a best team. When they don't work, you lose by 20 points.
Atlanta will win a game this year. Someday, a team will come in cold, Atlanta will shoot 50 percent again from the arc and we'll break the losing streak. But this is no way to run a ball club.