Tuesday, July 14, 2009

WNBA All-Star Game Starters to be Unveiled Tuesday Night on ESPN2

The starters for the 2009 WNBA All-Star Game as selected by the fans will be announced live on ESPN2 during Tuesday's telecast of the Los Angeles Sparks and Connecticut Sun game. As ofballoting first returns, Diana Taurasi was the leading vote-getter overall while Tamika Catchings was tops among Eastern Conference players. All-Star reserves will be announced July 20 while the All-Star game will take place on July 25 at 3:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ABC.

On July 24, fans can take in All-Star open practice for both the East and West teams. The East All-Stars will practice from 3-3:45 p.m. ET while the West will hit the court from 4:15-5 p.m. ET. Fans are invited to the practices at Mohegan Sun Arena free of charge. Doors will open at 2:30 p.m. ET. More
Sparks and Sun Square Off on WNBA Tuesdays
The Los Angeles Sparks will continue their seven-game road odyssey Tuesday night against the Connecticut Sun. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. ET and can be seen on ESPN2. Though the Sun is 8-10 all-time against their foes from Southern California, they are 5-3 against the Sparks at Mohegan Sun Arena, the site of the 2009 WNBA All-Star Game.

Sun forward Tamika Whitmore will not play in the game because she is undergoing arthroscopic surgery Tuesday to remove bone spurs in her knee. Whitmore missed Saturday's game against the Detroit Shock to break her streak of 204 consecutive games played. Hers was the eighth longest games-played streak in WNBA history and was the longest active streak in the league. The record for consecutive games played belongs to Dawn Staley, who appeared in 263 consecutive contests from June 10, 1999-August 12, 2006. On the flip side of the injury report, Sun forward Amber Holt will be on the bench in uniform after missing 11 games with a broken hand.

Keeping It Close
Fans watching three of the WNBA games Saturday night were treated to nail biters. Following two blowouts Friday night, three of Saturday's four games were each decided by two points. At Madison Square Garden, Cathrine Kraayeveld hit two free throws with 11.5 seconds left and Shalee Lehning missed a jumper with four seconds remaining to seal the win for New York. Meanwhile,Katie Smith drained a pull-up jumper with 6.3 seconds remaining to give Detroit a two-point lead over Connecticut. The Sun had two chances to tie the game again but both Tan White and Lindsay Whalen missed their shots as Detroit topped the Sun on the road. In one of the more thrilling games of the year, Temeka Johnson took a pass from Cappie Pondexter and nailed a buzzer beater to lift the Mercury over the Monarchs, 107-105, in Sacramento.

Old Friends
To say Becky Hammon and Vickie Johnson have had time to get to know each other during their WNBA careers would be an understatement. The Silver Stars' starting backcourt tied the WNBA record for teammates who have played the most games together on Sunday. The game marked the duo's 271st game together, which tied Lisa Leslie and Mwadi Mabika, whose streak ran from June 21, 1997 to August 31, 2006. Hammon and Johnson played their first game together as members of the New York Liberty on June 10, 1999. To put their accomplishment into perspective, the most possible games two players could have played together was 390, if they played in each of their team's games over the WNBA's 13 years. In their time together, they have been to the playoffs eight times and the WNBA Finals four times in nine seasons prior to 2009. The only year they did not play together when both were in the league was 2006. Hammon and Johnson have a chance to set the WNBA record on Wednesday at Washington.

Can't Shake This Fever
With their win over the Chicago Sky on Friday, the Indiana Fever extended their league-best win streak to nine games. After losing their first two games this season to teams who failed to make the 2008 WNBA Playoffs, the Fever have notched seven wins over playoff teams from a year ago, including two wins over the defending champion Detroit Shock. The team's next game, Wednesday at 1 p.m., will conclude a home-and-home series with the Sky. Should they win that game, the 10-game win streak would be tied for the seventh longest in WNBA history and the team would become just the fourth franchise in league history to record a win streak of at least 10 games. A Fever win would also boost the team's all-time record to a 156-156, marking the first time Indiana owned a .500 winning percentage since the team was 2-2 in 2000, their inaugural season. For some perspective, only five franchises entered 2009 with all-time records above .500.

Around the WNBA
Alana Beard of the Washington Mystics and Cappie Pondexter of the Phoenix Mercury were named WNBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively. Both players have won the award previously this season. For Pondexter, the award is her second in consecutive weeks.

ESPN's SportsCenter promo featuring Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker premiered Monday.

Against the Chicago Sky, the Indiana Fever set a franchise record for points in a quarter with 33.
Lindsay Whalen of the Connecticut Sun reached 2,000 career points in the Sun's loss to Detroit on Saturday. She became the third member of the 2004 WNBA Draft class to reach the 2,000-point plateau (Diana Taurasi and Alana Beard).

The Chicago Sky beat the Seattle Storm on July 12 to snap Seattle's franchise-record 15-game regular season home winning streak. Prior to Sunday, the most recent Storm regular season home loss was June 16, 2008 against Connecticut. Chicago's win improved the team's record to 7-3 this season when Sylvia Fowles is in the lineup.

Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi became the all-time franchise leader in career blocks after denying Sky guard Jia Perkins with 2:40 left in the first quarter of Wednesday's game.

Charde Houston scored a career-high 26 points against the San Antonio Silver Stars, which is the most points by an opposing player allowed by the Silver Stars this season.

Sophia Young collected six offense rebounds, the most by an opposing player allowed by Lynx this season, on July 12.

Rookies Kristi Toliver and Courtney Paris each recorded career highs with 22 and 16 points, respectively, over the weekend.

Today's Quotes
KARA LAWSON on Alex Chambers' 13 Teams, 1 Journey trip around the WNBA:
"I think it's great and I think it's really cool that he's a guy, too – a guy that's passionate about women's basketball. He's super knowledgeable about the teams and about the players. He did his homework. The questions he asked me weren't just run of the mill questions."
Sacramento Bee, July 11, 2009
LIN DUNN on being named head coach of the Eastern Conference All-Stars:
"It is a great honor to be named coach of the East All-Star Team. I am really happy for the Fever to be represented. It really is a reflection of what the team has accomplished so far."
Indianapolis Star, July 10, 2009

TEMEKA JOHNSON on her game-winning buzzer beater against the Sacramento Monarchs:
"It wasn't designed for me, but I was left open and I was able to knock it down. [Ticha Penicheiro] ran out on me and I took the extra dribble and went to the basket. I knew there was still time to make a shot."
Associated Press, July 11, 2009