Storm's Plan B (make that Plan J.B.) works
Seattle Times staff reporter
CHICAGO — While Lauren Jackson popped bubble gum on the bench, Storm teammate Janell Burse went to work at ruining the Chicago Sky's game plan.
The Sky thought it handled a matchup problem by getting Jackson, the All-Star Storm forward, into foul trouble. Only Burse, a 6-foot-5 center, was already rumbling in the paint to morph a two-point halftime deficit into an 81-69 Seattle win at UIC Pavilion.
Burse tied the score at 37 before Jackson was pulled out of the game with foul trouble in the third quarter. Having gained confidence playing Sacramento close without Jackson last week, Storm guard Sue Bird guided the team through a similar rhythm on Tuesday in building a 50-46 lead by the time Jackson checked back into the game at the 2:48 mark.
"J.B. was hot, so we ran a bunch of plays for her," said Bird, who finished with a double-double with 13 points and 11 assists. "But honestly, it wasn't anything about individual. It was we needed to play better than the first half. To be down two the way we played the first half, in a way we were happy. We knew the second half was going to be very long and thanks to J.B., we came out really strong in the third quarter."
Bird, who had seven assists in the quarter, found Burse inside while Burse also made her standard buckets underneath the hoop and helped teammate Wendy Palmer deflect Sky shots and passes. The Storm shot 57.1 percent from the field in the quarter while Chicago was 4 for 15 (26.7 percent) from the field.
"At halftime Coach D [Anne Donovan] told me to be strong with the ball," said Burse, who scored eight of her 11 points in the quarter. "I tried to make sure I did that and was aggressive."
Storm assistant coach Heidi VanDerveer attempted to comfort Jackson during her six-minute stretch on the bench by pointing out the Storm has a game today against Indiana.
But Jackson brushed off the notion that she was irritated.
"I said, 'We're winning, I don't care, just keep me here,' " Jackson said with a laugh. "The first half was disgusting, horrible. Not once did we think we were going to lose, but it was slow."
When Jackson re-entered the game, she scored seven consecutive points to help give the Storm a 59-50 lead at quarter's end.
The team erupted when rookie Katie Gearlds hit a three-pointer as she was fouled, making the ensuing free throw to make the score 63-50 early in the final quarter. She helped spread Chicago's defense and finished with 17 points, including 4-for-5 shooting from three-point range.
The Storm departed after the game for Indianapolis. Seattle (4-3) plays Indiana tonight to conclude its first back-to-back road set.
"Indiana is a great team," said Donovan. "I've said all along that I think they're going to be there in the Finals. We have to pull together and see what we can do."
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company