STORM WINS: It was sort of tense in the fourth quarter when San Antonio went on a late 12-4 run to close within four points after a three-pointer by Christon with 31.6 seconds left in the game. The Storm perked up its play, Wright and Smith attacking the basket to combine to make 5 of 6 FTs to preserve a 84-75 win. Smith, whose team had five players score in double figures, led with 16 points and a season-high six assists. Jackson wanted to play more to get her groove back, but Agler saw enough in her early 11 minutes. She finished with 11 points, shooting 4-for-4 from the field for nine points in the second quarter. Wauters stepped in to replace her, finishing with her first double-double of the season with 14 points and 13 boards in 25 minutes. San Antonio (20-13) hasn’t won in the facility since 2007 and split the regular-season series with Seattle (2-2). The teams won’t face each other again unless both advance to the Western Conference Finals. “It’s going to be tough,” Bevilaqua said of San Antonio’s first-round playoff matchup against Los Angeles (24-10). “You look at the way they’re playing now and they’re very fiery.” The Storm (15-18) closed its home season at 10-7, its worse record since 2006 when it was 9-8 at KeyArena. Seattle won’t return to the facility until Sept. 30; Game 2 of the Western Conference opening round against top-seed Minnesota (27-6). The Storm finishes it regular-season at Phoenix (7-26) on Sunday.
BREAK TIME: A three-pointer by Smith and some rebounding and putbacks from reserve Ann Wauters has the Storm up 69-61 with 6:11 remaining in the game. I’m out to focus on the newspaper version. I’ll return for a final wrap in a bit.
CLOSING IN: Rookie Shenise Johnson’s rebound putback — while surrounded by four Storm defenders — helped pull the Silver Stars within 55-50. Agler called a timeout to discuss.
TIME: Hughes’ halftime speech reached the players. San Antonio is on a 6-0 run to open the third quarter, leaving Storm fans on their feet in tradition of waiting for the first basket to take a seat. Seattle is having numerous breakdowns on defense, letting players like Appel slip behind defenders for open scores. It’s Seattle 48-35 with 7:40 remaining in the quarter.
HALFTIME: San Antonio might want to pull some of the participants of the dunk contest at the break to play with them. The Silver Stars were outscored 28-12 in the second quarter and trail 48-29 at the break. Seattle is shooting 55.9 percent from the field and is outscoring San Antonio 12-6 in the paint. Jackson lead all scorers with 11 points. Hughes has gone 10 deep on his roster, Young leading with six points as the team shoots 34.2 percent from the field.
SINKING FAST: The Storm is, ahem, raining down on the Silver Stars. San Antonio has only squeezed seven points out in the second quarter. Seattle is shooting 54.8 percent from the field and leads 43-24 after a Smith three-pointer.
CAREER MARK: Jackson darted inside the paint past Christon for a bucket. It was Jackson’s 6,000th in her career. She’s fourth on the all-time WNBA scoring list. The Aussie has a game-high nine points in six minutes of play. Seattle is up 27-17.
WISH GRANTED: Bevilaqua started the second half. Fans have been screaming for San Antonio coach Dan Hughes to play her since the opening tip. Jackson nailed a three-pointer to make the score 23-17.
WHERE ARE YOU?: Seattle’s defense took a siesta and San Antonio nearly capitalized on the absence to go on a mini 7-0 run. Bird broke the scoring issue, nailing a jumper and three-pointer to keep help the Storm ahead. It’s 20-17 at the end of the first quarter.
HELLO, AGAIN: Jackson was her normal lively self in four early minutes of play. She made her signature turnaround jumper and forced Appel into some bad shots before being taken out of the game. It’s Little who’s, again, anchoring the team. She’s 3-for-3 from the field for an early game-high seven points. Seattle is up 13-6 with 4:37 on the clock in the opening quarter.
SO LONG: San Antonio G Tully Bevilaqua was also honored prior to the game and given a bouquet of flowers. She’s retiring after this season. Bevilaqua was part of the Storm’s first WNBA championship in 2004. Jackson and Storm CEO/President Karen Bryant stood at center court to celebrate Bevilaqua, 40, as the crowd cheered. Some fans even made posters saying goodbye.
ALL HAIL: Storm F Tina Thompson was honored for scoring her 7,000th point on Tuesday, a WNBA record. She was given the game ball encased in glass and a bouquet of flowers.
The only real significance to Friday’s matchup pitting San Antonio against Seattle at KeyArena is playoff home court advantage. In a wild search of meaning, all that could be found is Indiana (21-12) and San Antonio’s possible matching records. The Silver Stars (20-12) to need a win to stay in contention for that advantage in the WNBA Finals — if both teams were to advance.
Yes, I’m grasping at straws.
Otherwise, as Storm coach Brian Agler put it, the game is another opportunity to get better. Only it still won’t be with a full roster. Seattle is without reserve G/F Svetlana Abrosimova (wrist). C Lauren Jackson is back after missing the past three games with a strained left hamstring. She’ll start, but play minimal minutes.
The Silver Stars (20-12) haven’t won at KeyArena since 2007. In the four-game series this season, San Antonio leads 2-1. It is playing without G Jia Perkins, however, who averaged 9.7 points off the bench in the previous three games.
Jackson hasn’t faced San Antonio this season. Will her addition to the lineup have an impact? You know how it gets started.
F Sophia Young
F Shameka Christon
C Jayne Appel
G Danielle Robinson
G Becky Hammon
F Katie Smith
F Camille Little
C Lauren Jackson
G Tanisha Wright
G Sue Bird
Tonight’s officials are Michael Price, Tom Mauer, and Brenda Pantoja.