Houston wins, 75-68: It's official -- the Sun no longer control their own destiny. With tonight's loss, its second straight, Connecticut (20-12) is now tied with Detroit for first place in the Eastern Conference. If the Shock take their final two games, it won't matter if the Sun win out against San Antonio and Washington; Detroit owns the season series and thus the tiebreaker, giving it the No. 1 seed and homecourt advantage through the conference finals in that scenario.
As for Houston, it ended its five-game losing streak. Tina Thompson had 21 points. Asjha Jones (22) and Tamika Whitmore (19) led Connecticut, which shot 38 percent from the field and went scoreless for nearly seven minutes in the third quarter.
If Sacramento beats Seattle tonight, it would clinch the West's final playoff spot. If it loses, Houston is still alive with two games to play.
3 and out: Tina Thompson just hit a deep 3 with a little over two minutes left, stretching Houston's lead to 73-62. That may have been the dagger that kills the Sun tonight.
Asjha out: With 3:07 left, Asjha Jones and her team-leading 22 points are on the bench with six fouls. Jones was visibly frustrated after fouling out, while the Sun, though scoring, still can't get stops and trail, 70-62, after a Tamika Whitmore lay-up.
Houston up 10: Mostly out of desperation, the Sun are starting to hit some shots, but isn't doing much to stop Houston or Tina Thompson (16 points), who just hit a very long 3 from the top of the key. The Sun have 5:50 left to erase a 64-54 deficit.
Snow falls: Michelle Snow's jump hook with 8:27 stopped a small Sun streak of five unanswered points. Houston leads, 57-46, in the fourth quarter.
End of 3rd quarter, Houston leads, 55-41: An Asjha Jones lay-up with 11.5 seconds left ended a stretch of nearly seven minutes without a Sun basket. Connecticut's shooting 32 percent from the field (16-50), it's committed 16 turnovers and it's never found a good rhythm in this game. Eight players have played 12 minutes or more and no one has seen more than 24. Sometimes that's a sign of good balance. Sometimes it's because coach Mike Thibault can't find a group that's playing well. This is the latter.
TT time: Tina Thompson has scored seven straight points to stretch Houston's lead to 54-39. The Sun haven't scored in nearly six minutes.
Also, a quick note, if you haven't noticed Jamie Carey play (and more of Erin Phillips), it's because Jamie Carey is out with turf toe. No definitive word yet on how many games she'll miss past this one.
Foul mood: The Sun trail, 46-39, with 5:18 to play in the third quarter and Asjha Jones just picked up her fourth foul trying to fend off Matee Ajavon from a loose ball. As I was writing, Tina Thompson just hit a lay-up as she was fouled and added the free throw to stretch Houston's lead to 10. Momentum is clearly with the Comets.
End of 2nd quarter, Houston leads, 39-31: Not much offense in those last few minutes. The teams traded turnovers and missed shots, and for the most part, the officials appear to be letting the players play. Asjha Jones has a team-high 10 points. Matee Ajavon leads all scorers with 13 in less than 12 minutes.
In perhaps a carry-over from Sunday, the Sun are shooting 34 percent from the floor, and uncharacteristically, it's Tamika Whitmore who's struggling the most (1-for-6, four points). The veteran has scored in double figures in six consecutive games, her longest such streak since reeling off seven straight from late May through early June.
Scratch that: Lindsay Whalen just knocked down a 3-pointer, and the Sun trail, 39-31, entering a media timeout. Whalen now has five points.
7-11: Houston has gone a 7-0 run and now own their biggest lead of the game, 39-28, with three minutes to play until the half.
Scoreboard watching: The Shock just finished off Phoenix, 89-78, cutting the first-place Sun's lead to a half-game in the Eastern Conference standings. A loss tonight against Houston would tie the two teams, and Detroit owns the first tiebreaker (head-to-head series).
Teeing off: Matee Ajavon is suddenly taking over. The Houston rookie has 10 points, and in the last five minutes, has driven past Asjha Jones and took Barbara Turner off the dribble twice for pull-up jumpers. Then, with 6:58 left, she picked Amber Holt's pocket and took a hard foul from the Sun rookie on the other end while making the lay-up. She stayed down for a moment, but walked to the bench on her own. Houston leads, 31-22.
End of 1st quarter, Houston leads 21-18: Greetings from Connecticut. The Sun are on MyTV9 right now and are down early to Houston after a rather slow start. They don't have a great rhythm offensively and Asjha Jones, Lindsay Whalen and Tamika Whitmore will sit to start the second quarter. More worrisome, they're having trouble stopping Houston, which shot 47 percent in the first period. Pee Wee Johnson and Tamecka Dixon each have six points.