STORM WINS: It stinks to have your bubble burst. Tulsa wore that expression after a 101-74 loss at KeyArena, the team’s first blowout of the season. Days from the highs of upsetting Los Angeles and Atlanta while hanging close to Minnesota before a loss, the Shock must have felt they were playing the US Olympic team with Jackson in the middle on Thursday. Jackson was enough on her own, it seemed. She turned passes to the chest into buckets and silky feeds from Wright into open three-pointers and jumpers to finish with 23 points in 14 minutes. “Everybody is getting used to playing with one another again,” said Jackson, who played in her fifth WNBA game since joining the team after the Olympics. “Some of the passes were unbelievable from everyone. I just think that if we keep getting better, who knows what our potential will be.” Consistency has been the theme all season. The Storm’s magic number is two to advance to a WNBA-record ninth consecutive playoff berth. But Wright warned playing better headed into any postseason appearance is more important. Seattle (12-14) departs for a four-game road trip on Friday. It finished its seven-game home stand at 3-4. Here’s a list of records set against the Shock (6-21): Little had a career-high seven assists. Seattle had a franchise-high 29 assists and shot a franchise-high 59.7 percent from the field. It was the team’s fifth 100-plus game. The Storm tied its most three-pointers in a game (14), Strick going 4-for-5 from downtown. The teams combined to make 27 three-pointers, the most in WNBA history. Whew. “It was just a lot of confusion on the floor,” Johnson said of defending the Storm. Latta led the Shock with 18 points and rookie Riquna Williams had 17 off the bench. “We definitely have to have a huge turnaround when they come to our house (Saturday),” Johnson continued.
BREAK TIME: The answer to the last post is yes. The Storm outscored the Shock 26-9 in the third quarter for a 79-49 lead. Jackson put up Jackson numbers with 23 points. Bird and Thompson have 11 points apiece and Bird has no assists. Latta leads Tulsa with 15 points and rookie Johnson has 14 with four rebounds. Storm coach Brian Agler has gone to his deep reserves to close out the game — unless something crazy happens. You never know. There was a blue moon this week. Anyway, I’m out to write the newspaper version.
DOOR SHUT?: Jackson nailed a three-pointer off a feed from Wright to give Seattle a 60-40 lead with 8:17 remaining in the third quarter. You might call “Game.” But the Shock is known for scrapping until the end.
TIME!: Shock coach Gary Kloppenburg needed a timeout with 9:05 remaining in the third quarter after his posts were blitzed by two easy scores inside. Little and Jackson worked the ball to get the layin for Jackson. The Storm is up 57-40. Little has six assists and Jackson has a game-leading 17 points. Probably don’t need to point this out, but it’s the Aussie’s season-high.
FLYING FUR: Halftime entertainment is the teddy bear toss to help children in need. Press row wasn’t pegged this year. Probably because of the sparse attendance. But anything helps. There was also a game of musical chairs. None of it compared to the pregame show of rhythmic gymnastics and national anthem by Johnathan Wright (with a silver tie). The Storm entered the break up 53-40. The offense looks fluid, shooting 56.3 percent. That means a week of practice worked. Other stats are pretty even. Johnson and Latta have 12 points apiece for the Shock. Jackson leads the Storm with 13 and Wright has seven assists.
OI OI OI: Off passes from both sides of the court, Jackson scored open layins to help put the Storm up 53-40 with 21.4 seconds left in the game. Seattle is on a 13-3 run. Jackson has a game-high 13 points. Wright has seven assists.
MINI RUN: Two FTs by Little cap a 7-0 run by the Storm before coach Brian Agler made Storm substitutions. Switching from dishing the ball, teammates fed Wright for a three-pointer and fast break layin. Seattle is now up 47-38 with 2:20 left in the half.
WRIGHT STUFF: This game is tailor-made for Wright. You need creativity to handle the Shock’s defensive pressure and the Storm needs someone other than Bird to handle the ball to get the offense moving. Wright is doing that, racking up four assists early. One was to F Tina Thompson inside, who did a fancy reverse layin. Add a 16-foot jumper by Bird and the Storm is up 35-31 with 6:09 left in the half.
SMALL ADVANTAGE: At the end of the opening quarter, the score is 26-24 Seattle. Wright worked down the clock for a dish inside to Wauters with 1.5 seconds left to get the small edge. Seattle is shooting 50 percent from the field — 3 for 6 from three-point range. The Storm is also outrebounding the Shock 11-9.
WELCOME BACK?: It’s early, but Jackson may be back to her old shelf. She hit a three-pointer with 6:26 remaining in the first quarter. She was taken out for C Ann Wauters. Seattle is up 16-13 with 4:24 on the clock.
TONE SET: It’s the officials setting the tone early. Three fouls within the first tthree minutes. Smith was tagged for two, putting her on the bench. Rookie Shekinna Stricklen replaced her. Seattle is up 4-2 with 8:10 on the clock.
NEW BEAT: Storm game operations keeps changing the player intro video, Think they’re trying to find the right groove, too? Or find the right mojo for the team?
Guessing you’re a Republican if you’re checking into this blog tonight. I kid, but with President Obama giving his speech at the Democratic National Convention, there might not be many eyes on the Storm’s matchup with Tulsa at KeyArena.
Spotlight or not, Seattle (11-14) is looking for the same magic it got from Tulsa (6-20) earlier this season. The first meeting at the Key on June 1 gave the Storm its first win of the season in the midst of the team’s worst start in franchise history (1-7). The second win against Tulsa on June 25 on the road ignited a five-game win streak.
Two wins against the Shock in a home-and-home set this week would put the Storm on the path for a WNBA-record ninth consecutive playoff berth.
To get there, Seattle is going to have to do a few things it’s had trouble doing consistently all season — limit turnovers, rebound, and match their opponent’s energy. The Shock have done an adequate job at all three to double its win total from 2011 (three).
POTUS does love hoops, so let’s keep him updated on the only WNBA matchup of the night beginning with your starting lineups:
F Amber Holt
F Glory Johnson
C Chante Black
G Roneeka Hodges
G Ivory Latta
F Katie Smith
F Camille Little
C Lauren Jackson
G Tanisha Wright
G Sue Bird
Tonight’s officials are Roy Gulbeyan, Amy Bonner, Jeff Wooten