In the spirit of the Seattle Storm's balance and emphasis on taking things one game at a time, a full analysis of the game might look a bit beyond guard Svetlana Abrosimova's two minutes of hot shooting and look at the many other contributions Storm players made.
Of course, Abrosimova's shooting was critical to the Storm's victory -- it not only exposed a soft spot in the Shock's defensive rotations but also forced them to adjust in ways that left other people open. However, perhaps the hot shooting in the third quarter from the Shock's Shanna Crossley is instructive to make this point -- Crossley also had a two-minute stretch of hot shooting hitting three 3-pointers, tossing a long one in for the third. But unfortunately, the Shock didn't get enough from the rest of the roster as they shot only 1-9 in the third quarter and had a turnover percentage of 38.88%.
In other words, even when it feels viscerally that spurt changed the tone of the game, it's a 40 minute game that is rarely won by one player. While statistics do sometimes lie, they also bring balance to the emotional responses we have to specific plays or players that make them stand out and perhaps help us see something that we missed...or reinforce what we might have believed to be true.
That said, it's not like the Storm's statistical MVP was surprising.
Storm statistical MVP: Lauren Jackson
Since Jackson always downplays her achievements, last time she had an impressive statistical performance, I went the route of critiquing her. Last night, it's hard to really find a way to do that.
Even the one thing that might stand out -- newly acquired Shock center Nicole Ohlde scored 4 quick points early on while defended by Jackson -- could be explained by more than a simple lapse by Jackson.
"It was not Lauren -- she could maybe have done a better job -- but it was a team concept thing," said Storm coach Brian Agler. "And if we go back to talking about those 34 points that they had at halftime where they had 11 off second chance and 13 off turnovers. Well they also had three layups where we let them play one-on-one against us -- we had no one there to help. And we're not going to be a very good defensive team if it's just a one-on-one game -- we have to do it with five against five."
So if there's no defensive critique, perhaps you could really stretch it and comment on a slow start from Jackson -- she was 1-4 in the first quarter and got her points from the free throw line.
"They played a lot of zone and we didn't really execute real well," said Agler. "But I thought Lauren rebounded well early in the game. She got a lot of opportunities there, but I don't think we were running great offense at that time. I thought we got better and the ball movement was better as the game went on."
So really all we can say is that Jackson played well and the Shock had no answer for her.
Shock statistical MVP: Shanna Crossley
As usual, the third quarter was absolutely dreadful for the Shock and the only reason it doesn't show up more prominently in the score is because of three 3 pointers from Crossley. The problem is that as a shooter, Crossley didn't contribute much else and neither did the team: Crossley and Amber Holt accounted for 69.5% of the team's total production, perhaps reinforcing Richardson's reasoning that he rotates players in an out so much because there's not a whole lot of difference between his first and second team and either is capable of producing an "L".
Storm key player: Le'coe Willingham
The Shock were simply overwhelmed inside and during that stretch of time when Abrosimova was hot, Willingham was helping her do some damage -- she controlled the defensive glass with 3 defensive rebounds during 4 second quarter minutes, had a block, and a put back off an offensive rebound. When you talk about balance for the Storm this year, the bench contributions of both Abrosimova and Willingham (and increasingly Jana Vesela) are a large part of that equation.
Key Stat: Effective field goal percentage
Richardson began the second quarter with the following unusual lineup: Chante Black- Nicole Ohlde-Tiffany Jackson-Scholanda Robinson-Ivory Latta. After being beaten on the offensive boards 66.7% to 33.3%, that made some sense.
"The three biggest players I have were all on the floor at the start of the second half so we could get some rebounds or try," said Richardson. "It was just no contest on the boards. They had almost double the amount of rebounds we did. Of course, some of those rebounds were one possession six boards, one possession five boards."
Nevertheless, what might stand out as odd about the Storm beating the Shock so badly on the boards last night is that they didn't in fact score many second chance points -- the Shock actually one that battle 13 to 8 and the Storm were 2-for-12 on second chance opportunities. So although statistically the offensive rebounding differential was as important as the Storm's shooting, that they didn't actually convert those second chance opportunities into points makes their overall shooting quite a bit more important.
"The Storm started making shots," said Richardson. "They shot 50 percent from the three-point line in the first half – deep shots, out of the corners they were making them."