Wednesday, September 2, 2009

30/2009 - Dream 84, Sparks 79

This is going to be an abbreviated review of the game. I can speak about the first half of it from experiencing it - or at least parts of it. The second half I gave up on entirely. The problem? WNBA Live Access.

Let it be said that I am not knocking WNBA Live Access. Last year, if I wanted to watch an Atlanta Dream game that was not televised, it was tough beans. Now, I can watch those games on WNBA Live Access. However, I also had Art Eckman on the radio. I couldn't see the games - and good old Art Eckman isn't exactly the most accurate transcriber of what he sees - but Eckman made it entertaining and barring bad reception, the radio station was dependable.

However, WNBA Live Access still hasn't worked out its technical bugs. Some people have no trouble with Live Access, some have a lot of trouble. Given two fans in the same city, one fan can see the game crystal clear and the other is perpetually plagued with technical difficulties. And the next game, the roles of those two fans can switch places! President Donna Orender says that they're working on WNBA Live Access. I just hope we can get some consistency, 'cause when Live Access works, it works great...when it works.

So what I can I say about the first quarter and parts of the second quarter:

1) Larry Burnett, the voice of the Sparks, said that Chamique Holdsclaw would be back next week. Before you get your hopes up that she'll be playing in one of those back-to-back games, just remember that those two games occur September 4th-September 5th. We're still looking until September 11th at least before The Claw can take the court again.

2) The Dream starters: Lehning, McCoughtry, Castro Marques, Lyttle, de Souza.
The Sparks starters: Lennox, Milton-Jones, Parker, Thompson, Leslie. What was strangest of all is that Betty Lennox was playing point guard. Can that really work? Who is to say that if you give Lennox the ball she just won't shoot it every time she touches it? The Sparks were going to find out.

3) It didn't look like there were many fans at Los Angeles. With September and school now upon us, regular season games might take a hit. Playoff attendance should be good, though.

4) I found out about the Los Angeles Sparks's mascot, Sparky. Sparky was conceived in the minds of Carla Christofferson and Kathy Goodman, the co-owners. Before 2007, the Los Angeles Sparks were too good to have a mascot. (Do the Yankees have a mascot? Do they?)

I don't know where they got this "inspiration" from, and I'm sure that Sparky is a good dog ("Bark!"), but the New York Liberty should sue the Sparks for plagiarism. Sparky does the exact same things that Maddie does, down to jumping on every letter of the Sparks logo as the crowd shouts out "(jump) S....(jump) P...."

Maybe Sparks and Maddie belong to the same litter. I don't know.

4b) What is it with this holy logo stuff? If I were a member of the opposing team, if the home team gave me grief but we won the game anyway, I'd be sorely tempted to jump on every letter of the home team's logo in derision. As far as I can tell, neither the Sparks logo nor the Liberty logo has any magic mojo, unlike the Baltimore Ravens logo which is know to mess players up who fool with it.

Star, don't get it into your head to jump on the letters of the Dream's logo. We're only two years old, the logo is there to remind The Claw that she doesn't play for the Mystics anymore.

5) In the first quarter, the goal of the Dream seemed to be "get it down low to Erika de Souza, and let her make something of it". De Souza, however, wasn't cooperating and she went 1-for-6 to start the game. Iziane started the game with a 3-pointer, but the Sparks scored the next six points. This must be because someone named "Erika de-SOW-za" replaced Erika. At least that's how Larry Burnett was pronouncing her name.

We weren't having any luck under the basket. McCoughtry missed a point-blank reverse layup. De Souza missed point blank on the high-low. Lisa Leslie would score 12 first quarter points alone and at one time, the Sparks led 15-9.

6) The Dream scrapped back and followed with the next six points. Lehning wasn't getting anything done and she was replaced by Ivory Latta. The plan on having Lennox run point appears to have been scrapped with Atlanta tied 17-17, and Shannon Bobbitt came in for Lennox. With 0.2 seconds left, Latta made the final jump shot of the game. The zebras considered whether Latta made the shot in time or not.

She did! The Dream led 21-19.

7) This is when WNBA Live Access went into a coma. The damned thing wasn't even buffering. At least I had the first quarter stats. Los Angeles was hitting 50 percent of its shots, but it seemed that all of those shots were being hit by Lisa Leslie, who was 5-for-6. Iziane Castro Marques had 7 points, and Sancho Lyttle had 6 points.

We had three offensive rebounds as well. Los Angeles, despite having Leslie and Parker, didn't have a single offensive board in the first 10 minutes.

8) WNBA Live Access stirred from the coma, to mutter to itself fitfully. My video feed sounded like a record with a scratch in it, skipping all over the place, only providing chunks of images (before freezing) and word hash. Shannon Bobbitt started the second quarter with a 3-pointer to put Los Angeles up 22-21. Somehow, however, the play-by-play reduces Los Angeles's poitn total to 21 points after Snow's jump shot.

9) For the next 2 1/2 minutes, only Atlanta would score. They took a 28-21 lead. During Atlanta's run, Larry Burnett made a joke about how great it would be for Los Angeles to have Ivory Latta. Then, they could call her "Ivory Latte", after the coffee. His anecdote finished with, "...and you know how we like our lattes in Southern California." This is why Mr. Burnett is doing the Sparks play-by-play and why Jay Leno can sleep safely at night on top of a pile of money.

10) Interesting stat: Vanessa Hayden picked up a personal foul at 8:42, 8:03 and 7:31. Three personal fouls in about three minutes. It was at this time that Michael Cooper had the idea of replacing Hayden with Leslie.

11) Los Angeles came right back, helped by the fact that the Dream missed four of their first five free throws. Live Access was still stuttering. Los Angeles closed to within one point and a layup by Lisa Leslie tied the game 32-32 with 4:12 remaining. At 3:27, the Sparks went into the lead on a Tina Thompson layup and from that point on, Lisa Leslie helped the Sparks take a 5 point lead, which they would take into halftime 42-37.

12) Los Angeles was winning the battle of field goal accuracy, 47 percent to 36 percent. They had made up their offensive rebounding deficit. Atlanta, however, only had five first half turnovers. Lisa Leslie had 16 first half points and Tina Thompson had 14 points. No Atlanta player had broken into double-digits.

It was at this time that I simply threw up my hands in despair with Live Access. I didn't want to watch the WNBA's slow-updating box score all night, so I went to bed and hoped for the best.

(* * *)

It's now that I abandon personal experience and just look at the play-by-play. I see that the Sparks were also strong in the third quarter. Leslie's ability to score hadn't diminshed during the half-time break, and the pair of free throws that she hit to put the Sparks up 50-41 were her 19th and 20th points of the game. However, a pair of 3-pointers by Iziane and Ivory Latta helped the Dream to close back to within four points, 55-51 with 4:17 to go. With 3:49 to go, Iziane hit another 3-pointer - her 15th point - to close Atlanta to within one point, 55-54 Sparks.

Then the Dream fell asleep for about 3 minutes. This allowed Los Angeles to slowly put some distance between itself and Atlanta. Unfortunately, the Sparks were over the limit in fouls. Michelle Snow marched to the line with 44 seconds left in the third quarter to hit a couple of free thrws to close Atlanta to 61-56. And with seven seconds left in the third....

...Armintie Price was at the line! (I'm sure that Atlanta fans that were still awake and could see the game were biting their pillows.) Price, a notorious free-throw shooter with Shaq-like accuracy, managed to hit both of her free throws...and amazingly, the Dream were down by one possession after three quarters, 61-58 Sparks.

In the fourth quarter, the Dream were waxing but could never quite break into the lead. They stayed close, tieing a couple of times. The game slowed down midway through the fourth. Noelle Quinn put the Sparks up by four, 69-65 with about five minutes left, but Jennifer Lacy and Sancho Lyttle hit layups to tie the game once more, 69-69 with just 3:47 left.

With 3:12 left, Atlanta finally broke into the lead. A Lisa Leslie personal foul sent Erika to the line, where she hit one of two free throws. Iziane Castro Marque hit a bank shot with 2:36 to go to put us up 72-69 with 2:36 to go....

...and then, the rest of the game became "Superstar: The Iziane Castro Marques Show." (Starring Iziane with special guest superstar Iziane.) She hit back to back 3-pointers and the second one put Atlanta up 78-73 with 95 seconds to go...but the night wasn't over for Iziane.

With 29 seconds to go, Candace Parker made a layup to make it a 78-75 game. But seven seconds later, Parker would earn her fifth personal foul to send Iziane to the line. (I don't know if Iziane was holding the ball.) Los Angeles was now over the limit.

Iziane came to the line for two shots. She hit both of them to put the Dream back up 80-75 with 22 seconds left. Lisa Leslie tried a 3-pointer with 15 seconds on the clock, but missed it. Delisha Milton-Jones made bad pass after the rebound, and the ball was back in Atlanta's hands!

It forced Candace Parker to foul in hopes of getting the ball back. It was Parker's sixth foul. Parker had fouled out, and Angel McCoughtry - who was 2-for-8 from the floor and only had four points - went to the line for two free throws. She hit both of them, and the Dream were up 82-75, a 3-possession game with 13 seconds left.

With five seconds left, Marie Ferdinand-Harris hit a hook shot to close the Sparks to 82-77. But the game was essentially over. All the Sparks could do was foul. This gave Iziane two more free throw attempts, and she hit both of them. Marie Ferdinand-Harris would hit another couple of free throws, but the game was over.

Atlanta had did it again. We had won on the Sparks's home court, 84-79. I wished I could have seen Iziane hit both of those 3-pointers. She finished with 27 points. Maybe I'll get a chance when the game archive comes up.

A statistical post-mortem will be forthcoming.


rogerio silvestre said...

I am so glad I could watch the whole game. Iziane was great in the 4th quarter. She did what she did last year against the SPARKS. She rocked again!!!
IZZY is not DIZZY anymore!!!ahahahah

Ethan said...

I couldn't get the ATL/LA game to work on Live Access, so I decided, oh well, at least the Sacramento announcers are hella entertaining. Blank screen there too. ARGH!

Glad to know this wasn't an isolated incident.