STORM WINS: Seattle defeated San Antonio 86-72 before 7,823 fans at KeyArena. You can tell the teams are similar in style, but with Jackson on Seattle’s side, it’s doubtful San Antonio (5-8) will catch up to the Western Conference leaders this season. Los Angeles had a season like this in 2002, I believe, where everyone else was playing for second. Seattle (14-2) has that look. It’s hard to recognize it, though, because you’re so used to them struggling, but this is the prime-seasons for Bird and Jackson. Health just remains the big question – along with play post All-Star break. “I don’t want to jinx it,” Jackson said of the team winning nine consecutive games. “But if we keep doing what we’re doing, we’re going to be pretty good. I feel great about it. We’ve got to remain in control and be calm and go out there and want to win more than anything.” Jackson finished with a game-high 31 points and a season-high 15 rebounds. Wright, who’s had 32 assists in the past three games, had a career-high 12 on Tuesday with 11 points. San Antonio didn’t get crushed in rebounding, but was still outscored 48-28 inside the paint due to Jackson’s play. The Storm is off on Wednesday and Abrosimova couldn’t wait to get home and enjoy it. “I feel like Swin and Camille, they really need it,” said Abrosimova of the frontline. Cash is still recovering from a sinus infection. “They’ve been going almost 35-minutes a game and a couple of traveling trips was really awful. You can see it, how they’re not as excited any more to play. You don’t see their smiles anymore. They need it to get that energy back. But we’re going to be OK.” Seattle, which is 7-7 all-time without Bird, will regroup for practice on Thursday and travel Friday for an afternoon game in Los Angeles. Agler said Bird really wants to play, hoping the national team doesn’t over use her during the All-Star game. National team players will be named Thursday while the full WNBA team will be announced Sunday.
DOUBLE TROUBLE: A pass inside to Jackson with 9:21 remaining in the game gave Wright her third consecutive game with at least 10 assists and second consecutive with a double-double. Seattle is up 73-59 with 7:47 remaining in the game.
JACKSON MVP?: We’re nearing the halfway point, which means us voters will start to look at the MVP race seriously. Previously I was thinking Bird because of her leadership, passes, three-point shooting and yadda, yadda, yadda. Watching Jackson the past two games — with no disrespect to Wright — I think she could turn a pass from me into a sparkling play. Jackson’s muscle inside has helped Seattle run away with the game, leading 64-49 with 1:43 remaining in the third. She has 27 points and 13 boards and my early vote.
POST PLAY: San Antonio’s issue is they don’t have anyone to matchup with Jackson. Appel is a rookie, Snow doesn’t possess the strength, Young is overmatched, and new acquisition Crystal Kelly is just getting her chance. But we know from her previous days in the league how that’s going to turn out (and Jackson has taken a seat, anyway). The Storm is up 53-41 with 5:06 remaining in the third quarter.
COOL STAT: Jackson has 15 points and 10 rebounds. Thought it was cool, I’m a goober, I know…Seattle leads 42-32 after a sweet pass by Wright to Abrosimova in transition with 8:28 remaining.
HALFTIME: Hammon hung her head with a three-pointer by reserve Le’coe Willingham went in the hoop just as the halftime buzzer sounded. It’s the kind of shot that can deflate a team. Seattle is up 36-27 with Jackson leading all scorers with 13 points and nine rebounds. Wright follows with eight points and five assists. Holdsclaw had 10 points for the Silver Stars while Snow grabbed five boards — as a team, however, her team only has one offensive board in the opening half.
ALL-STARS?: Bird admitted it’s a popularity vote and I would submit the tape of the Seattle-San Antonio series as proof that the All-Star selections aren’t indicative of who can play ball in the WNBA. Loved her at Stanford, but Jayne Appel? No Cappie Pondexter? Say what? At the end of the first quarter the Storm’s “second tier” is playing better than the four Silver Stars named to the team. Oh well. Seattle’s up 14-8, holding San Antonio to 3 of 13 shooting from the field (23.1 percent).
WRIGHT STUFF: Getting good collective defense, Wright is penetrating on the Silver Stars and getting her shot to drop in the paint to put the Storm up 10-4 with 4:30 remaining in the opening half. Wright has six of those points. Seattle is outrebounding the visitors 8-5.
SUCKING AIR: Jackson, Cash, and Abrosimova all tossed up airballs, needing a drive by Wright to get the game going with 7:32 remaining in the opening quarter. Seems San Antonio learned nothing from getting slaughtered on the rebounds in the matchup last week, allowing the same to happen so far Tuesday.
Some special guests at KeyArena caused us to be a little late Tuesday. President Donna Orender made her first trip to the city and Dee Kantner, supervisor of officials, conducted her annual class with season-ticket holders. I spent some time with both, so we’ll get right to the thread.
One big note, however, Storm PG Sue Bird will not start due to lower back spasms. Bird, who’s still dressed for the game, initially suffered the injury on Sunday prior to her team’s win against Tulsa and is hopefully taking a one-game break to give her longevity this season. G Svetlana Abrosimova will start in her place on Tuesday against San Antonio.
The Storm has defeated the Silver Stars by an averag 24.1 points in the previous two games and is on a eight-game win streak at home, so one hopes the remaining of the team can handle the visitors. A blend of reserves, including Jana Vesela, did an impressive job against the Shock on Sunday.
So, let’s get started with your starting lineup:
F Sophia Young
F Chamique Holdsclaw
C Michelle Snow
G Becky Hammon
G Edwige Lawson-Wade
F Swin Cash
F Lauren Jackson
C Camille Little
G Svetlana Abrosimova
G Tanisha Wright
Tonight’s officials are Denise Brooks, Scott Twardoski, and Jeffery Smith.