Rebounding figured to play a role in tonight’s meeting between the Seattle Storm and Chicago Sky, but the home team got arguably the best joint performance of the season from Sue Bird and Crystal Langhorne to hang on for a win.
As described in our preview earlier today, turnovers have been an especially significant problem for the Seattle Storm all season: they entered tonight’s game with the highest turnover rate in the WNBA and have been victimized by a string of turnovers on a number of occasions.
Yet the Storm managed to hang on to the ball against the visiting Chicago Sky tonight to leave KeyArena with an 80-73 win.
The turnover-prone Storm had just five turnovers for the game – three of which came in the third quarter – and didn’t allow the Sky to have a fast break point in the second half of a back and forth game.That steady ball handling with hot 50.9% shooting was enough to put away a limping Chicago Sky team that was still without star forward Elena Delle Donne and starting point guard Courtney Vandersloot.
Equally encouraging for the Storm was that tonight’s game was the first time this season when they’ve gotten big offensive performances from both Sue Bird and Crystal Langhorne.
Bird and Langhorne shared team-high scoring honors with 19 efficient points apiece. Bird shot 7-for-13 from the field, including a big three-point play on a jumper with 1:07 left that put the Storm up 4. Langhorne had her mid-range shot going in addition to finding ways around the Sky’s larger front line to shoot 8-for-10 from the field. The combined 38 points from the Storm’s inside-outside combo is a season-high as both have had their ups and downs this season and haven’t clicked to this extent at the same time.
While Bird and Langhorne providing a potent inside-outside punch, Camille Little hit a career-high three threes to add 18 points. While others handled the scoring, Tanisha Wright made her first appearance since June 15 and dished out a season-high 11 assists in the win.
And it took just about all of that to overcome a Sky team that absolutely dominated the boards, as expected.
The Storm were limited to just 3 offensive rebounds by the larger Sky frontcourt. Sylvia Fowles led the way with a game-high 11 rebounds to go with 19 points and Jessica Breland had a game-high 20 points to go with 9 rebounds of her own. Similar to how Langhorne hurt the Sky, Breland’s ability to hit a few mid-range jumpers and slash to the basket helped keep the Storm’s defense on its toes.
Unfortunately, the Sky just didn’t have quite the balance the Storm had: outside of Breland, Fowles, and Epiphanny Prince (16 points), the Sky shot just 5-for-25 (20%) from the field. With that trio of scorers limited to a combined seven points in the fourth quarter, the Sky shot just 4-for-13 (30.7%).
With the win, the Storm move ahead of the Tulsa Shock for fifth place in the competitive Western Conference. The Sky missed an opportunity to move into second place in the Eastern Conference, but still find themselves in the top half of the conference despite a road loss at less than full strength – there’s only so much you can read into a road loss missing both a starting point guard and leading scorer.