Let history repeat itself
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Sparks are up by two, with 14.3 seconds left in the game. Camille Little of the Seattle Storm fouls Tina Thompson, putting her on the line. Thompson composes herself, takes a breath and drops the first one through the net. She makes good on the second as well. Seattle calls timeout. It is a two-possession game and the Sparks are 14 seconds from pushing past Seattle for the second year in a row and moving onto the Western Conference Finals. In 3 1/2 seconds, Sue Bird makes a leaning,almost desperation-looking three-point shot that falls. Seattle down by one. We have to get the ball in; they have to foul us; we have to make our free throws and then we can all go home.
This is playoff basketball. Ten seconds left. Who wants it more? Friday it was definitely the Seattle Storm. Little stole the in-bounds pass and raced down the court to make a layup with just five seconds left. We had one last chance to make it happen, but Lisa Leslie didn’t get a decent look at the basket and the horn sounded. Seattle had lived to fight another day.
Wednesday night was a must-win for us. Friday was definitely a must-win for Seattle. And they responded. The game did not end the way I wanted it to — would have loved our team to have a five-day rest before having to play again — but this was an incredibly exciting basketball game.
There is no love lost between Seattle and L.A. Seattle has had to endure a week’s worth of interrogation about their early exits from the playoffs for the last four years (twice ousted by L.A.) and speculation that they are not playoff-worthy without Lauren Jackson. Neither team ever wants to lose and Friday night the play was very physical from the start. The game was scoreless for the first minute and a half, when Kristi Harrower decided to drive the lane and scored first for the Sparks. It took another minute beyond that before Tanisha Wright finally hit a jump shot for Seattle. And then it was on.
The game had 15 lead changes and was tied 11 times. It was a game of runs, with L.A. up by as many as 11 at one point, and the Storm leading by eight at another. Yet, the game came down to one final stolen pass and layup with five seconds left.
I didn’t want a Game 3, but now that it’s going to happen, I can’t wait! Key Arena should be raucous (Sparks fans — plenty of time to get up to Seattle for Sunday’s 2 p.m. tip-off!) and now we’ll see what happens when both teams are facing a must-win situation. I expect Sue Bird, Wright and Swin Cash to be playing flat out. And Noelle Quinn and the Olympians will have to prove they deserve all the hype. Last season we pushed it to a Game 3 with Seattle and we came out on top. Let’s see history repeat itself. -- Kathy Goodman, co-owner of the Sparks