STORM LOSE: Bird wouldn’t point to one category for the 79-55 loss to Minnesota at the Target Center on Wednesday. “Clearly our offense wasn’t very good tonight. I don’t think our defense was very good tonight. We just had a very off game and they took advantage of it,” she said. Still, the Storm was exposed 32-18 in the paint, an area it was supposed to be strong at with Wauters, Little, and Thompson rotating around. But the Lynx, with a roster full of lottery picks, pushed the vets around and dropped Wauters to the court a few times. Minnesota shot 54.7 percent from the field in winning its franchise best eighth consecutive game, one from the WNBA record for the best start in history (9-0). Five players were in double figures, led by McWilliams-Franklin’s 17 on 8-for-8 shooting. T-Wright led the Storm with 14 points and three assists. Smith and Bird were a combined 2-for-12 from the field. “I got to the basket, I just missed shots,” said Little, who finished with five points on 1-for-4 shooting. “We’ve just got to play better.” Seattle plays at San Antonio on Saturday. The good news is the Silver Stars are lacking a strong post presence, so maybe the Storm (1-5) will find a way to win.
BREAK TIME: I’m out to focus on the daily story. Please check the Twitter feed to your right (@JaydaEvans) for an immediate final score and I’ll be back after postgame interviewing for a wrap of the game. Seattle is down 58-38 with 2:13 remaining in the third quarter behind an 11-0 run. Wright is the only Storm player in double figures for Seattle (10). The Lynx have four players in double digit scoring.
NEGATIVE: The Lynx are as feisty as their feline mascot. They got more aggressive in the paint as Seattle tried to comeback, Moore even getting a payback whack at Wauters, to go back up 51-38 with 4:19 remaining in the third quarter. Minnesota is on a 8-0 run and Agler wants time to discuss.
COMEBACK?: The Storm was once down 18 and is jumping on Minnesota out of the break to pull within 43-36 after a nice three-pointer by Thompson. But McWilliams-Franklin scored on a putback while being fouled by Wauters. She missed the ensuing FT and Seattle is within 45-36 with 7:10 on the clock.
HALFTIME: Bird made a one-hand jumper to put the Storm within 43-30 at the break. Seattle is, again, losing the rebounding battle 16-7 and scoring in the paint 20-6. Brunson leads Minnesota with 10 points, but isn’t the rebounding maven. That’s the bench, which has combined for nine. Wright has eight points to lead Seattle. The Storm has committed less turnovers than the Lynx (6 to 9), but is shooting 35.5 percent when it doesn’t muster a shot. The halftime show was a dry as the game, a fan answer trivia questions to obtain golf balls and then putting three to win an autographed basketball. He made it. Yay.
RETRACTION: To start the season I picked the Storm to win the WNBA championship. I’d like to retract that statement now. Bird nailed her first three-pointer of the day to make it a 10-point deficit (38-28). Minnesota is always making the extra pass to get a dazzling shot. They have six assists on 14 made field goals.
WHISTLE HAPPY: Thompson was called for her third foul and the last two weren’t the right call based on my watching the in-house replay. The Lynx are 6-for-8 from the line and shooting 72.2 percent from the field to build a 35-20 lead. Seattle’s line up of Thompson, Kobryn, Wright, Dunlap, and Little were playing well to get Seattle going, but Minnesota’s “Bench Mob” turned it up a notch. There’s 3:17 remaining in the half.
DUNLAP PLAYS: She was blocked twice, but Dunlap is in the game and trying to give the Storm a presence inside the paint. Wright has been the successful one, however, getting to the foul line and scoring on a fade away despite being bumped by Whalen. The Storm is down 28-12 with 8:24 left in the first half.
ICE COLD: It hot outside and Seattle is providing a shooting freeze to make Lynx fans feel good. The Storm is 3-for-12 from the field and still having trouble getting anything going inside. Rookie Devereaux Peters isn’t playing like it , scoring four points with two boards and one assist off the bench. Lynx up 25-7.
TROUBLED WAUTERS: Wauters took a hack at Moore after a botched Storm play inside and getting scored on by McWilliams-Franklin on the other end. Agler pulled her for Eva Kobryn, the Storm down 19-4. Seattle is getting outscored 8-2 inside. There’s 3:20 left in the quarter.
BACK BREAKER: A three-pointer by reserve G Candice Wiggins prompted Seattle coach Brian Agler to call time out. The Lynx are up 15-4 with 5:00 on the clock in the opening quarter. The Lynx are playing clean ball, not committing any turnovers while forcing three for five points from the Storm. Bird is off to a 0-for-3 start from the field, not helping Seattle’s cause.
OPEN PAINT: Wright is doing a nice job filling in for Augustus, truning a nice cut in the paint to a pass to McWilliams-Franklin for a score. McWilliams-Franlin later slipped passed Wauters and Little for another score. Minnesota is up 10-4, McWilliams-Franklin leading with six points.
AUGUSTUS OUT: Lynx All-Star Seimone Augustus won’t play due to a right quad strain. G Monica Wright is starting in her place. Augustus was on the court warming up and was a last-minute decision. She’s averaging 18.1 points and 3.9 boards to start the season.
DUNLAP CLEARED: Trade acquisition Victoria Dunlap was medically cleared after suffering a concussion in practice. She did not dress for the Storm’s home win against Tulsa, but has only played in one game this season overall.
At some point you’ve got expect Seattle (1-4) to stand up and stop what seems like madness. Teams are good in the WNBA, really good. But that doesn’t mean Seattle, which won a title in 2010, shouldn’t be able to win more than it has. The latest defeat was a buzzer-beater at Los Angeles on Sunday.
The Storm does have arguably the toughest schedule to open the season, playing the defending champion Minnesota twice and Los Angeles with a healthy Candace Parker three times. Yet, with just 12 teams in the league, it’s going to happen and Seattle has to find a way to muscle out a win or get trampled. Wednesday that could be by Minnesota, becoming part of its historic start to the 2012 season.
The Lynx (7-0) have surpassed the franchise’s winning streak record and are looking to extend it past the WNBA record of nine. That was set by the Sparks in 2001 and 2003, LA winning the WNBA title in ’01.
Minnesota is using heroics to continue its streak, however, which isn’t making the team happy. The latest was a last-second layin by PG Lindsay Whalen to defeat San Antonio on Sunday.
The Lynx would like more of a complete game, like the one it played against Seattle in May. Then, second-year F Maya Moore nailed five three-pointers in her 19 points to help the Lynx win by 13 points. Every time Seattle had a chance to cut the deficit, Minnesota defended harder, forced turnovers and made buckets. It outscored the Storm 30-18 in the paint, forcing Seattle to take a franchise-record 34 three-pointers, making 14.
Will it be more of the same on Wednesday at the Target Center? Let’s get it started with your starting lineups:
F Katie Smith
F Camille Little
C Ann Wauters
G Sue Bird
G Tanisha Wright
F Maya Moore
F Rebekkah Brunson
C Taj McWilliams-Williams
G Lindsay Whalen
G Monica Wright
Tonight’s officials are Sue Blauch, Denise Brooks, and Jefferey Smith.