In a match against the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday, the Seattle Storm came out on top with a score of 65-63. Sue Bird scored the game-winning free throws with 1.6 seconds left. L.A.’s Tina Thompson missed a possible winning three at the buzzer. This makes the Storm’s four-game winning streak the team’s longest of 2011. The Storm ensured a non-losing record for the 10th consecutive season, the longest streak in WNBA history. The final game between the teams will be played Tuesday in Los Angeles.
Bird’s five steals were the most by any Storm player this season (previously three) and her seven rebounds were a season high. With nine points, Swin Cash passed Deanna Nolan to move into 17th place on the WNBA’s all-time scoring leaderboard. Candace Parker scored 15 of her game-high 19 points after halftime.
Regarding the set up for the last play Storm Head Coach Brian Agler said, “We were trying to get Sue [Bird] a jump shot or an isolation for Lauren [Jackson] on the block. They did a good job guarding it and I didn’t see exactly everything that happened, there was a scramble, there was contact and the officials called a foul.”
The Storm reduced its magic number to clinch a playoff berth to one. The next Storm win or L.A. loss will guarantee the Storm a playoff spot.
Regarding not being able to pull away from Los Angeles Agler said, “I thought they played well. They usually sub a lot and rotate their players in but they stayed with five or six on the floor, their veterans, and they played well. They defended us well. And they made us defend as well. It was a challenge. It was a scenario that we had opportunities and for whatever reason we’d have a missed assignment or missed shot and we just couldn’t do it. But I credit them. I thought we played pretty well. We played efficient, we didn’t turn the ball over much, we scored off their turnovers – which is a good thing, and I felt they played a very solid game.”
Bird on end of season games, “At the end of any season these games are going to have a playoff feel. They have playoff implications. L.A. has their back against the wall; they’re fighting to get into the playoffs. We’re fighting to stay in second. There has been a lot of shuffling going on. For us against a team that we’re going to face in two days this one was big.”
How does she feel about playing L.A. again? “We’ll just try to learn from this game. It was tough. We had opportunities to go up 10 and maybe extend that lead and I think they were able to get back into the game. Hopefully we can learn from this, see what worked, see what didn’t, and I know they’re going to be doing the same thing. I think it’s going to be another battle.”
And what about the last seconds in the game? Bird shared, “In a tie game with that much time we just want to take the last possible shot…worse case is you go to overtime. The play was designed for me to come off, and when I did they came and I kicked to Tanisha [Wright]. Luckily the blocked shot ended up in my hands. They came running at me so hard I just pump faked and took the hit.”
The next Storm home game is against Phoenix Mercury Friday, September 9, 2011 at 7pm.