STORM LOSES: There’s another level the Storm is going to have to reach and it’s just not happening right now. They lost 84-71, zinging the ball all over the court for 17 turnovers. It didn’t help that Bird was 2-for-10 from the field (1-for-6 from three-point range) for seven points and five turnovers. And that the posts were outworked in the paint, getting outscored 30-18 inside. The team continued the same mantra after the loss, stating it was improving. “We have to put the periods of good execution and good defense and team defense together,” said Smith, who had 12 points off the bench. “We have spurts but you can’t give a team like this that has a lot of weapons that cushion. We have to put more good periods together and have a 40-minute, solid performance.” One thing working for the Storm is their three-point shooting, attempting and making a franchise record 14-of-34. Smith and Stricklen made three apiece while the starting post players combined for six. “You usually don’t have so many post players with that (three-point) range, and we do,” Bird said. “Thirty-four is obviously not something we aim for every game, but when the opportunity presents itself, of course we’re going to shoot them.” Seattle is 0-3 to start a season for the first time since 2003. It’s worst mark is 0-4 from the inaugural season in 2000. Seattle is unlikely to match that because it hosts Tulsa (0-3) at home on Friday. But with both teams needing a win, you never know. Wauters led the Storm with 13 points and nine boards while Moore led the Lynx with 19. The Storm was outrebounded 40-27 overall.
STAT WATCH: By the way, Seattle is one shy of a record for three-pointers attempted, attempting 32 in the game which ties the franchise record in overtime set in 2009 and in regulation in 2005.
BREAK TIME: Shutting down to work on the daily story. Little nailed a three-pointer and Seattle is down 74-59 with 5:42 left in the game. Wauters leads with 10 points and nine rebounds. Moore has 19 for the Lynx. Augustus has been contained to 10 on 2-for-7 shooting.
FOR THREE: Is there anyone on the Storm roster who can’t shoot the three? Reserve Eva Kobryn just nailed one to make the deficit 66-50. Seattle only has 13 miscues, below its season average, but Minnesota is within its margin of victory.
ATTENDANCE: Even with Minnesota switching the days of the game from Saturday (a while back) and it being a holiday weekend, 7,832 are in attendance. That includes owner Glen Taylor. It’s off the 8,000+ during the championship run in 2011, but a good sign for the young season. Seattle called time with 4 minutes left in the quarter and down 57-40.
DEJA VU: Nothing has really changed for the Storm after the break. The defense looks good, but problems offensively have continued to hinder any chance of getting back in the game. And Bird is 0-for-6, getting on the board with a pair of FTs with 5:48 remaining in the game. Hold up, Bird just nailed a three-pointer off a Lynx turnover, so Seattle is within 50-37.
STAT WATCH: Heard back from the Storm office, the team’s nine points in the first quarter isn’t a record. Seattle has had six in a quarter once before. Field goals can’t be tracked at this team. Teams are back on the court, second half coming soon.
HALFTIME: Minnesota is up 37-24 at the break, getting eight points off 10 Seattle miscues. Wauters is working extra hard for the Storm, leading with seven points and seven rebounds. Moore has 10 points to lead the Lynx while Brunson has five boards. Halftime entertainment is something with fans inside hamster balls and it’s just as awkward as Seattle’s opening half. The Storm is shooting 27.3 percent, but based on Bird’s four assists, you can tell if the team just finds its groove, it could be OK. But Bird also needs to find her own shot, missing five open baskets. On the other end, Whalen is running her team with precision. She’s got seven assists to make up for the 2-for-7 shooting. Reeve is using her bench a lot. Agler is really only going seven deep, Smith getting the most time (10 minutes) to add two three-pointers to the picture.
THREE BALL: Three-point baskets by Smith and Wauters helped the Storm close the gap and gain some confidence, but Bird is MIA. She’s 0-for-5 from the and just committed a turnover on a pass to Wauters in the paint that could have cut the Storm’s lead to a manageable 11 points. Instead, the team is down 36-21 with 2:13 on the clock.
A BUCKET: Because it’s rare, we’ll talk about Wauters’ bounce pass inside to Little for a score under the hoop. Good to see Little muscle in a short shot. But the defense, that had been playing well, gave up a score in the paint on the other end and committed its seventh turnover of the game in its ensuing possessions.
HOW UGLY?: Well, the Storm is 3-for-20 from the field while Minnesota is finding its comfort zone. The Lynx are up 23-9 with 7:25 left before halftime. It’s not over by any means, but scoring four points since the 5:42 mark of the first quarter surely isn’t going to get it done. Agler is trying a lot of different combinations, obviously nothing has clicked.
BACKDOOR OPEN: Moore slipped through the Storm’s backdoor for showtime, reverse layin with 1.2 seconds left in the quarter. Minnesota is up 17-9. I believe the nine is close to a Seattle futility record. Shooting 18.8 percent should also be a dubious record, checking on that.
HEY ROOK: F Shekinna Stricklen, the No. 2 draft pick, entered the game and popped a three-pointer to pull Seattle within 10-8 despite stagnant offense. Minnesota is playing sloppy, but a three-pointer by Moore makes the lead 15-8 with 26.6 seconds left in the wild quarter.
HARRIS IN: Harris has checked in for Minnesota. She missed the first three games. Meanwhile Seattle has a second shot clock violation. There;s 3:12 on the clock.
TIME: The Lynx are on a 6-0 run and the Storm is having the same troubles. It has committed three turnovers to start and is shooting 2-for-11 (18.2 percent) from the field. The saving grace is its defense, getting into Minnesota’s sight lines to get them shooting 38.5 percent. But the Lynx are winning the boards 8-6 early.
T-DROPS: Thompson dropped a three-pointer in the quarter to put Seattle on the board. Minnesota was latter called for a carry violation and Augustus bricked a jumper depite breaking Wright’s ankles. It’s 4-3 with 5:48 left in the quarter.
ROCKY ROAD: Storm still not off to a good start, getting called for a shot clock violation on its first possession and a foul on Little for the second. The third was a series of blocked shots. Minnesota is up 4-0 with 8:00 left in the first quarter.
FREEBIES: Just wondering, how many WNBA basketballs have been given away in its 16 years? Every team gives away about 11 before each game. That’s a lot of balls. Think the league could save some money that way? The exchange is a thrill for the kids, though.
Storm PG Sue Bird gave a quizzical look when it was mentioned Minnesota feels they aren’t playing good basketball, entering the game against Seattle at 3-0.
“That’s interesting,” Bird said. “The thing that stands out right away is once again, similar to last year, they’re very deep. You can’t relax on anyone because they have so many weapons. We only watched snippets here and there, so I don’t know about them not playing well, but they look good to me.”
Seattle (0-2) is going to have to be solid with its transition defense and really take care of the basketball in order to hang with Minnesota. Storm coach Brian Agler said the team had three days of good practices where they improved and he attributed the average 23 turnovers in the opening two losses against Los Angeles to not knowing each other.
Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve, the 2011 Coach of the Year, states the same about her squad, although the Lynx are beating opponents by an average 16 points despite glitches. On Sunday, the team returns F Amber Harris (ankle), but whether she plays remains unknown.
“You expect this team (Seattle) to come together and be able to compete for the playoffs and possibly a championship later on in the year,” Lynx G Seimone Augustus said. “We have to get our groove back. We’ve been away from each other for eight months so we have to learn where (Lindsay) Whalen likes to get the ball, where (Rebekkah) Brunson likes to get the ball. So, we haven’t really felt like ourselves the last few games. Even though we’ll take the win, we know we have another level or two that we can go up on our scale.
“Seattle haven’t not won makes the situation worse for us. They come in hungry and they’re very experienced. At some point they’re going to find themselves and start reeling off some wins. It’s a scary situation coming into tonight.”
The game features some of the more entertaining matchups in the league, although it’s hard to top the Lynx’s fourth quarter against the Sparks on Thursday. But Storm G Tanisha Wright defending Augustus is usually a highlight while Whalen and Bird have had some battles over the years, Bird normally getting the edge until last season when the Storm was 1-3 against the Lynx.
What will it be like now that Minnesota has won a title? Let’s get it started with your opening lineups:
F Tina Thompson
F Camille Little
C Ann Wauters
G Sue Bird
G Tanisha Wright
F Maya Moore
F Rebekkah Brunson
C Taj McWilliams-Franklin
G Seimone Augustus
G Lindsay Whalen
Tonight’s officials are Eric Brewton, Jeffery Smith, and Kevin Sparrock.