Sunday, July 23, 2017

July 22nd, 2017: All-Star Game

Just the Facts, Ma’am: All-Star MVP Maya Moore had 23 points, and the West created separation in the fourth quarter to win 130-121. Everyone scored in a high-scoring, free-wheeling shootout.

For fans, excitement, shooting threes, all the threes, and a lot of fun, join your intrepid and two-sport blogger after the jump.

Game day! It’s All-Star time, and it will be glorious.

We’re coming to you on tape delay- but not from KeyArena at Seattle Center. These notes are being typed at Seattle High School Memorial Stadium, where your intrepid blogger and two of her best friends (the one I married and the one who flew across the country for my wedding) are getting ready to watch the Seattle Reign take on Sky Blue FC. (Don’t tell my husband, but I’m rooting for Sky Blue. Go New York, even if you’re in New Jersey.) That being said, Seattle probably wins for having the best view in the league. Something about being able to look up at the Space Needle from the grandstand does that.

The Bite of Seattle is full of deliciousness, and right now so am I. So many delicious things. Would highly recommend the puffles.

Oh, yes, the basketball game. It was a lot of fun. My hips are still a little sore from the cupholders. The seats are a bit tight. I thought most of the players did a nice job of balancing the fun of the All-Star game with the competitiveness of actually playing to win. It was free-flowing, for the most part, and fun to watch.

I did get annoyed at Stefanie Dolson for blatantly backing off Breanna Stewart in the first half. I mean, really. Dolson had fun showing off her shooting range, though. She and the PA announcer were both thrown for a loop when she forgot to take off her warm-up shirt before checking in. (Um. Dolson. Not the announcer. The announcer was a dude.) Elizabeth Williams dropped a monster block that brought great joy to the crowd. She was the last off the bench in the first half, but part of the second line in the second half. Candice Dupree seemed to be getting fed the ball a lot in the first half; I’m not sure if there was some kind of proving herself thing going on. She seemed to take great pleasure in taking jumpers.

Sugar Rodgers landed a couple of jumpers that were very gratifying, and that doesn’t even go into her three-point shooting at halftime, which we’ll get into later. She had a nifty deflection. What can I say? That’s what Sugar does. I wouldn’t have picked her as an All-Star, but she made a good showing of herself. Allie Quigley also showed off her shot. She’s so smooth, and it's nice to be able to root for her to hit threes. It doesn’t happen very often. Layshia Clarendon had an awesome, awesome tip-in to end the fhird quarter, and then scored the next five for the East as well. I think she was really hyped to be there and wanted to take full advantage of it. Her energy was off the charts.

I can’t pull up the stats for this game right now, but I’m pretty sure Tiffany Hayes had the highest usage rate among East players. She seemed to be in the middle of every play. That’s not necessarily a good thing. For every lay-up or slick pass, you’d have a hurried shot or a turnover. It’s not all about you, Tip. Jasmine Thomas drove well and passed well, but I think that the big Wall Street Journal article on her improved three-point shooting got into her head or something. Her jumper was off.

Jonquel Jones had either family or friends at the game, with #35 shirts and a big old Bahamian flag in the stands, and she balled out. She finished down low with flair, flashed the three-point shot, and closed out the game by throwing it down (while it wasn’t the flashiest dunk, it was solid). She’s so much fun to watch, both because she’s so good and because she has so much fun out there- we could see her smiling from the upper deck. Tina Charles didn’t play a lot, and with the way Dupree and Williams were both playing, I can’t say I blame Miller. I really thought the East should have pounded it inside more. Alyssa Thomas slashed nicely to the basket, but again, I can understand why Miller didn’t play her too much. He’s got a season to think about.

I know Maya Moore had a very good game, and I can’t quibble with the leading scorer on the winning team getting MVP. On the other hand, I thought, and still think, Nneka Ogwumike should have been MVP. She got buckets whenever the East was making a run, and she boarded hard. Rebekkah Brunson seemed determined to prove that she could totally shoot from the outside. She’s still got surprising ups for a woman her age. (“Her age.” She’s two years older than I am and has way, way more vertical than I do.) Breanna Stewart got a lot of pop from the crowd, as is to be expected for the hometown team, and showed off some dipsy-do moves at the basket. It helped that she and Dolson seemed to be operating under a mutual non-aggression pact- as soon as one of them went to the basket, the one on defense backed off like she was on fire.

We actually didn’t see very much of Seimone Augustus, but she had the funniest play of the game, when she bounced it off Tiffany Hayes’s foot and the PA announcer promptly said, “There’s that veteran presence of mind.” Skylar Diggins-Smith mostly set up beyond the arc, moreso than most of the rest of her teammates. I’m not sure if she was looking for her shot or if she was in “just happy to be here” mode. She just didn’t seem to be trying to make herself a factor like most of her teammates were. Chelsea Gray showed off both her stroke and her slick, sweet passing. She had fun with behind the back passes and casual flips.

Candace Parker seemed to get more into the flow of the game in the second half, both going to the basket and shooting threes. A lot of people were shooting threes, but she seemed to be doing it more to have fun with it than shooting seriously. It’s like someone flipped a switch and told her it was okay to let people know she was enjoying herself. It's okay, Candace. We won’t tell anyone you’re having fun. Your secret is safe with us. Sylvia Fowles should not shoot threes, but she was very effective posting up down low. Makes sense. It's all kind of a blur at this point, and I do tend to focus more on my team than on the opposing team; since I’m from the East, “my” team is the one with Tina and Sugar. Maya Moore was her solid self, hitting the threes she couldn’t hit in the contest, and boarding with power. I think a lot of people would have given her MVP, and obviously that includes the people who made the official decisions.

Diana Taurasi was a bundle of energy, up and down the court at every opportunity. She launched without hesitation and without remorse from downtown. Ball went into her hands, there was a very good chance the ball was going up. She was having fun, and she did her best to make sure that everyone around her had fun. It’s fun to watch that. Sue Bird was showing off by the end, going behind the back and between the legs. Arguably her best pass was one that didn’t result in a basket, and Nneka not hitting that shot made me sad. She hit a very classic three- the “die bitches” play in action, even if it wasn’t in a “die bitches” situation.

If you took the WNBAAlien’s over/under bet, the over won. To be fair, it wasn’t an unwarranted review; it was the tip-in at the end of the third quarter, so it had to be reviewed. The refs let a fair amount of contact go before attempting to call it, and they started calling touch fouls instead of heavy contact. (Then the refs in the soccer game basically decided to make their colleagues look good, so that’s a thing. I mean, really, a player gets thrown into the boards, and y’all aren’t going to call it? Miss me with that nonsense.)

Shoutout to the old school jerseys- the Sonja Henning, the Betty Lennox, the Stacey Lovelace. Shoutout to the fully decked out Sacramento fan in her warmup jacket and cap. Shoutout to what I’m told was a Utah Starzz practice jersey. Shoutout to all y’all who were out there repping your teams: the Champion Leslie jersey, the Wings fans in the neon green behind the West bench, the bedazzled Dupree fan in the Indiana shirt, the Lynx and Merc and Sparks and Storm and Sky and Mystics and Liberty fans who rocked their colors and cheered their players.

The three-point shootout was fun! Admittedly, I’m biased because Sugar Rodgers kicked a whole lot of butt, but the crowd went wild when both she and Allie Quigley went on their runs. When Quigley all but ran the money ball rack... wow. I think next year they need to keep it to dedicated three-point shooters, even if they’re not All-Stars.

I love KeyArena, but I’m starting to understand why the NBA wouldn’t want to come back to it. It doesn’t have a lot of amenities, the upper concourses don’t really seem to be set up for a lot of people, there’s no wi-fi and probably no way to set up wi-fi, the seats are narrow, etc. It's a very nice arena, don’t get me wrong. But I recognize its flaws.

I’m definitely looking forward to next year! See you in... Minneapolis, maybe? All y’all better be there.

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