Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Okay, since I'm under time pressure, here's my writeup of Atlanta/Sacramento:
1) I thought the warm-ups were slow for both teams - I'm sure they were both tired and were just going through the motions. Sacramento was engaged in a random shootaround with Walker, Brunson and Powell taking turns with random shots.
2) I further noticed that Chamique Holdsclaw was not dressed. Later I'd found out that she was day to day. She was supposed to be somewhere close to the bench in the first half and left the second half. I didn't see her at all.
3) When the Sacramento Monarchs took the court, and we were supposed to give a polite visiting cheer for the Monarchs, the place was virtually silent. I wondered how many fans there remembered that Rebekkah Brunson knocked Ivory Latta's front tooth out during the last time Sacto visited Atlanta. You could have heard a pin drop when Sacramento took the court, but I don't think the quiet in Philips Arena that night had anything to do with some slight, real or imagined. (See #30, below.)
4) Bonnie Leadbetter sang the National Anthem and I thought she did a respectable job. Then again, I'm no music critic.
5) A fan wearing a gold polo shirt and a cowboy hat who was sitting at the seats along the baseline had a sign that read, "I LOVE THE LADIES". I couldn't make out which ladies were being mentioned. It could have been just a philosophical statement, in which case more power to you, ma'am.
In any event, some advice for sign makers: whenever you draw a sign with black marker that leaves a 1/4 inch wide markon the paper, that sign is going to be virtually invisible from a distance. You don't use markers to make a sign, you use paint: those letters have to be a least one inch wide if they're going to be seen by anybody.
6) With regard to #3, above - one player on the Sacramento bench got some cheers. That was Kristin Haynie, the former player for the Dream. Our resident Haynieac - he wears a T-shirt that wears "Haynieac" - made sure to be there that night.
7) One patron of the game showed up wearing a Tennessee T-shirt. My how things change over just a couple of days. On Sunday, the place was swimming with Tennessee gear; on Tuesday Tennessee gear was few and far between.
8) Atlanta starters: Lehning, Castro Marques, de Souza, Lyttle, McCoughtry
Sacramento starters: Robinson, Powell, Penicheiro, Walker, Brunson
9) The Dream started out a bit sloppy - McCoughtry threw a pass over de Souza's head. Another McCoughtry shot was too short and hit the rim. A 3-pointer by Iziane went in-and-out. Castro Marques picked up a travel call in the first two minutes.
10) But then, it came together for the Dream and they went on an 11-4 lead. Iziane - I'll call her "Iziane" since in Brazil, it is customary to call great players by their first names - scored 7 of the first 11 points of the game.
Lehning, however, took what must have been a glancing blow to the head. She left the court, and Latta came in for Lehning.
11) Tonight was going to be "dog night" - I wonder if the dog theme was part of an aborted pets promotion. Two dogs - Buttercup and Prost?? - were show on the screen and we were asked to whom the dogs belonged - Lehning, Snow, or Erika (I'll use the Brazilian custom and refer to de Souza as Erika hereout, even though I have forgotten the accent mark, which would lead any speaker of Portugese to roll his or her eyes. "Americans.")
These were Erika's dogs! It must be a pain to have to arrange travel for them, Erika must really love her dogs.
12) Atlanta continued to roll. We were up 17-6 with around four minutes left. Latta got away with a grab that wasn't called for a foul, but she picked up two quick fouls nonetheless so it could have been three. With about 3:06 remaining, the Dream had a 21-6 lead after a pair of baskets by Lyttle.
Sacramento called a time out. The audience was strangely subdued, as if they couldn't believe the scoreboard.
13) From there, the point was to defend our double-digit lead. Shalee Lehning came back into the game. However, with about 1:30 to go Atlanta was over the limit in fouls. A few free throws by Sacramento whittled down the lead, but Iziane ended the quarter on a run to the basket that ended with a one-handed layup. McCoughtry and Iziane each had 9 points and we were up 27-17 at the break.
14) The Dream brought out some kiddie dancers. Yes, I know, "dressed like tramps, blah blah blah." But does every drawn conclusion people jump to have to be nasty? (They could tone down the hoochie wear, though, it ain't necessary.) I've always liked the kiddie dancers, who were doing a new disco-super-pop remix of the Hokey Pokey. There's something comical about it, but also something quite innocent. I suspect that the fans like the kid dancers, too.
More kid dancers, I say. Put Miss Grand Supreme to work!
15) In the second quarter, Lehning put some acrobatic skill to work. She blocked a pass from Kristin Haynie and managed to rescue the ball and get it to Angel McCoughtry. The ball got back to Lehning and she turned it into an assist to Erika for the basket.
At about 3 minutes in, I saw the sweetest behind-the-back dribble where Lehning transferred the ball from her right hand to her left. Yeah, I'm sure you've seen a thousand of them but I've only followed women's basketball for a short time - I'm amazed at what these players could do.
Later, Lehning would come at Penicheiro from behind and steal the ball. Shades of Angel McCoughtry!
16) On the other hand, despite the acrobatics Atlanta was getting sloppy. McCoughtry picked up another of her patented steals but sprinted down the court so fast that she couldn't come to a stop. The ball was lost. Lehning threw the ball too high and Nicole Powell ended up with the ball. Sacramento had worked the lead down to single digits, 40-33.
17) With 3:04 to go and the score 42-33 Atlanta, Armintie Price came onto the court. Frankly, Atlanta needed some defense, as neither McCoughtry nor Iziane were scoring.
18) There was another picture of dogs on the screen. This time, it was a snapshot of three well-cared dogs. A fan was give a trivia question, and the fan answered correctly that these dogs belonged to Marynell Meadors. Coach Meadors has some nice looking pooches.
19) I saw another sign - "CHB UK Atlanta Dream". I think it means something, perhaps a code to our secret Dream overlords.
20) With the Dream up 42-33, there was a two minute drought where neither team could score. Someone had to make a run, so it was Ivory Latta who stepped up to the task. She would hit the next three baskets for the Dream, including a 3 pointer for 7 points to end the first half. However, the Monarchs scored as well. Ivory Latta attempted a 3-pointer from half court as time expired - and it actually made it to the backboard - but didn't fall. The Dream led 48-40 at the half.
21) Atlanta was still shooting hot. They were hitting 53 percent of their shots in the first half. The Monarchs were stuck at 39 percent.
Ticha Penicheiro had 9 assists at halftime. She's really one of the great point guards of women's basketball. As they'd say in baseball, she's "A Hall-of-Famer Fer Sure".
22) The Teen Special Winners of Henry County were honored. I think the proper term is intellectually disabled - it's the term used by the Special Olympics, so I'm going to go with it. I was glad to see the kids get the honors and I think the spectators were happy for them too.
23) The dog theme continues. There were some frisbee dogs entertaining at halftime - trainer throws frisbee, dog makes amazing catch of frisbee in teeth. I was a bit distracted during halftime, but the parts of the show I saw were great. I liked the star-spangled cape one dog was wearing - clearly, that was James Brown's dog.
24) In the beginning of the third quarter, we had some ugly misses. Iziane missed a 3-pointer. Erika missed a mid-range jumper, and in the W you have to hit midrange jumpers because you can't dunk your way to two points. However, Ticha Penicheiro had picked up her fourth personal foul. The Monarchs remained within single digits.
25) Shalee Lehning made the second "junior high miss" of a shot that I've seen in two games. She runs for the drive, stops at around the baseline, shoots...and hits the underside of the backboard. A friend of mine said, "No focus." Lehning said she wasn't a shooting guard, and let me tell you, she ain't kidding.
26) The third quarter slogged down. With 5:38 left Sacramento went over the limit and with 5:16 left the Dream were similarly busted. This meant The Long March to the Free Throw Line....
...or did it? McCoughtry hit her 3-point attempt that she has to try at least once per game. Iziane hit a 3-pointer with 2:47 left and Atlanta had broken back into double-digits, eading 67-53.
McCoughtry sank a pair of free throws for her 19th and 20th points of the night. They would be the last points scored by McCoughtry in an amazing perforance.
27) Courtney Paris came in. She got a shot in at 1:30 but it was taken away - she charged Shalee Lehning. Iziane would hit another pair of jumpers in the final two minutes, and the Dream were up by 15, 74-59 at the three quarter break.
28) We let Sacramento score the first points but then went on a 6-0 run. Now we were up by 20 points.
Two Brazilians - one wearing a #8 jersey - were asked to play the iPod Challenge. Ivory Latta was the singer and she sang a song which I believe is called "Knock You Down". (If you heard it, you would want to knock her down.) I think the Brazilians should have gotten extra swag due to the degree of difficulty.
29) A new song was unveiled by the Dream sound guy - "Peanut Butter Jelly Time". I like Peanut Butter Jelly Time.
30) I learned the announced attendance of Tuesday's game - 5,159. My friend and I each rolled our eyes after looking out into the stands. If the crowd rushed the players on the court, I'd give the players even money in the fight. That was a Detroit estimate, and it was the lowest announced attendance in Atlanta Dream history.
31) There was still a fourth quarter to play. The Monarchs brought the gap down to less than 20, but time was going to run out on them unless they could put on an offensive display. Sacramento remained at just under 18 behind us...
...then Iziane hit a shot. After Penicheiro hit a bucket to answer, with 4:23 to go, Iziane fired a 3-pointer from 24 feet away with ridiculous arc on it...one of those bombadier shots...
...it went in, and the crowd went nuts. 91-71.
Ever hear of a shot where you say, "when they made that basket, the game was over?" That was the shot. When Iziane made that shot, everyone knew that the Monarchs were dead in the water and the only question left was whether we could set a franchise record for scoring.
32) In the fourth quarter of every Dream game, they have something called the "Jam Cam". Random spectators are asked to make fools of themselves by dancing, and the crowd judges three candidates.
As selected fans cavorted, I saw Erika standing on her feet during a time out, watching the Jam Cam and swaying to the music. She knew this game was over, too.
33) Latta added another 3-pointer to push us up over the century mark, 101-75. After a Laura Harper free throw, Kristin Hayie andwered with another three.
The clock was winding down. Normally, one side just dribbles the clock out, but the Monarchs were playing rough basketball. I'm sure Latta remembered that "accidental" elbow, so she played it as if we were in the first quarter, taking an extra shot with less than 10 seconds left. But there was no more scoring left in the game.
Final: Dream 103, Monarchs 83.
There might be a post-mortem tonight, or there might not. Blogging will be scant on Thursday through Saturday.