(Seattle, WA) – After a heartbreaking loss to the Connecticut Sun on Friday that saw the Storm choke away a seven-point lead with under 90 seconds to play, Seattle bounced back strong in an impressive 82-74 victory over the Minnesota Lynx on Sunday.
The Storm never trailed in this game, getting out to an 11-0 start before Minnesota’s rookie Napheesa Collier would score the first points for the Lynx.
“We’ve been playing a lot of basketball lately and… I’ve been around enough to know that sometimes teams respond to [hard losses like the previous game against Connecticut] like the way we did tonight and sometimes they kind of feel sorry for themselves. I’m just really glad they responded.”Coach Dan Hughes on the team responding well after the tough loss
Seattle was firing on all cylinders as six players scored in double-figures led by Jordin Canada‘s 14 points, six assists, and three steals. The most promising thing I saw from Canada was her ability to take a couple of dribbles in from beyond the three-point line and knock down the pull-up jumper 15-17 ft from the basket. This is not something we’ve seen Canada do consistently yet in her WNBA career, but the more comfortable she becomes knocking down the mid-range jumper the more difficult it’ll be to defend her.
Canada is already excellent at attacking the hoop despite her diminutive size. If she can add the pull-up jumper to her repertoire she is going to become an elite point guard in this league.
But it wasn’t just Canada, this one really was a team effort. All five starters scored in double figures and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis also added 11 points off the bench (all in the first half).
It was great to see Jewell Loyd look a lot more like her true self; something we haven’t seen a lot of since she returned from injury. Loyd finished the game with 13 points, five rebound, and three assists. She was aggressive getting to the basket and shot a much more respectable 45% from the floor (5-11).
“I feel good. I’m getting back into my rhythm. I think that’s been evident in the last couple of games. Even on the road trip, I think we see that I’m moving better and things like that. In reality, I think that I am in the best shape I have ever been in right now because I’ve been doing a lot of cardio and focusing on my diet. I feel good.”Jewell Loyd on recovering from her severe ankle injury
Natasha Howard was limited with foul trouble all game long but definitely had a big impact while she was on the court. Most notably was after she picked up her 4th foul with about three and half minutes to play in the third quarter with the Storm up 14 points. The Lynx would go on to outscore Seattle by 10 over the final three minutes to cut Seattle’s lead to just four, 67-63, entering the 4th quarter.
Howard finished the game with 13 points, six rebounds, two blocks, and two steals and was able to play most of the 4th quarter which allowed the Storm to really separate themselves from the Lynx in the final minutes of the game. Alysha Clark and Mercedes Russell each contributed 10 points apiece to round out the starting five.
She’s on Fire!
If you grew up in the 1990’s you’re probably familiar with the widely popular arcade game NBA Jam. The game was notorious for crazy slam dunks and outrageous shooting. The game may be most known for catching “fire”. When the same player scored three baskets in a row without giving up any points they would catch fire. Once your player was on fire you could do anything on the basketball court. Drain 30-foot three-pointers, dunk from the 3-point line, block every single shot, etc.
What does NBA Jam have to do with the Seattle Storm/Minnesota Lynx game you might be asking? Well in the third quarter of Sunday’s game Odyssey Sims was on fire. Sims scored 18 straight points against the Storm. She knocked down three’s, attacked the basket, and knocked down the mid-range pull-up jump shots. In total, Sims shot 8-8 from the floor in the third quarter. It was like watching something out of a video game.
No other Minnesota Lynx player scored in the third quarter until Danielle Robinson made a jump shot with just two minutes remaining in the period.
Sims was very close to tying the all-time record for most points in a quarter of a WNBA game. The record is held by Diana Taurasi who scored 22 points in a game against the Los Angeles Sparks in 2006.
Napheesa Collier (16 points) and Sylvia Fowls (11 points) were the only other players to score in double-figures for Minnesota. Seattle also limited them to just four points total between the two of them in the 2nd half.
“I thought Seattle played well. Seattle plays as a unit and they execute their stuff really, really well. They play really hard and obviously their fans are highly engaged. They’re hard to play against. Odyssey Sims tried to put the team on her back, but we just didn’t get enough help from other people.”Minnesota Lynx Coach Cheryl Reeve
Records and Milestones
Natasha Howard had two more steals in this game which gives her 63 steals on the season and set an all-time Seattle Storm franchise record for most steals in a single season.
“[Natasha Howard] is probably the Defensive Player of the Year. I was thinking who would I vote for, and I’d vote for her. As a coach there are certain things that you watch… you see a crowd rebounding and she makes some tough crowd rebounds… Natasha goes into a crowd and it’s like she’s bigger than she is. Along with all of the great offensive things, I don’t know if anybody has done as much for their team defensively as Natasha.”Coach Dan Hughes on the defensive presence of Natasha Howard
Jordin Canada is also likely to surpass the previous franchise record this season as she has 55 steals with six more games to play. Canada and Howard both lead the league in steals at around 2.3 steals per game.
Crystal Langhorne also set a record, earning her 1,000th career rebound as a member of the Seattle Storm. She joins Lauren Jackson, Camille Little, and Sue Bird as the only other players in franchise history to reach that mark.
Langhorne also knocked down two more three-pointers in this game, bringing her season total to 15, which now nearly doubles her career total from her first 11 seasons in the WNBA (8 made 3’s heading into 2019).
Playoff Seeding and Tie-Breakers
While the Seattle Storm have not yet clinched a playoff berth this season, they are very close to doing so. The win over Minnesota was particularly important because it gives the Storm a significant advantage in their head-to-head matchup against the Lynx. Seattle won the season-series 3-1 against the Lynx. The victory keeps the Storm in the 6th seed and knocks the Lynx down to the 8th seed.
Both teams are unlikely to fall out of the playoff race as they have a significant lead over the 9th seed Indiana Fever (9-17) with less than eight games left to play.
For the Storm, they are likely to finish between the 6th and 8th seed, with an outside shot at reclaiming the 5th seed if the Chicago Sky were to falter down the stretch. The late-game collapse against the Connecticut Sun on Friday did major damage to the Storm’s chances of earning the 4th or 5th seed that are currently held by the Los Angeles Sparks and the Chicago Sky.
The Sky already own the head-to-head tie-breaker over the Storm which currently gives them a two-game lead over Seattle. The Storm will face the Sparks in one of their final games of the season in Los Angeles and must win that game if they have any hope of leapfrogging the Sparks in the standings by season’s end.
Seattle will also face off against the Phoenix Mercury in the final week of the season with the winner likely not only landing the higher seed but also homecourt advantage in the first round of the WNBA Playoffs.
As a 5th or 6th seed, the Storm will host an elimination game in Seattle. If they fall down to the 7th or 8th seed they will play all their playoff games on the road unless they advance through the first two rounds to the WNBA semi-finals.
The Seattle Storm get a nice break before hosting the Indiana Fever at Alaska Airlines Arena on Sunday, August 25th at 4:00pm.