Storm embarrassed by Fever
Seattle Times staff reporter
INDIANAPOLIS — Forget scouting reports.
Storm forward Lauren Jackson was forthcoming with the secret to defeating her team.
"If I was any other coach on any other team, I'd say, 'Play zone. They can't play against it,' " she said after Seattle provided the perfect demo tape in an embarrassing 90-62 loss to the Indiana Fever at Conseco Fieldhouse on Wednesday night.
The Fever (8-1) has an aggressive defense, known for picking off passes and forcing bad shots. But it was a standard zone that had the Storm seemingly tallying more shot-clock violations than baskets.
Leading 26-21 entering the second quarter, the Storm couldn't defend, couldn't rebound, and couldn't shoot as it was outscored 29-4. Seattle shot 8.3 percent (1 for 12) in the quarter and made its only field goal off a Jackson turnaround jumper with 2:28 remaining.
The Storm's four points tied a WNBA record for fewest points in a quarter. It was so low, even the players couldn't believe it.
"I walked into the locker room and said, 'I can't believe we just had nine points in that quarter. That's terrible,' " Jackson recalled telling coach Anne Donovan.
"No, you only had four," was Donovan's response.
"That's insane," Jackson said.
The Storm (4-4) rallied from a 22-point deficit to win its season opener against Houston, so it knew a comeback was possible. Yet, playing a Fever team many picked to win the WNBA title this season, Seattle struggled to put on any semblance of a rally in the second half.
The 20-point halftime deficit reached 29 (74-45) after a three-pointer by former Storm forward Sheri Sam early in the fourth quarter.
Reserve guard Tan White and Sam provided the offense for Indiana, finishing with 23 and 15 points, respectively.
"Early, we played behind their post players and our perimeter players did not drop in to help," Indiana coach Brian Winters said. "They had some easy baskets. We started getting defensive rebounds and then attacked on offense.
"Tan came in and provided energy. Sheri came in and sparked us. She had an excellent game."
Storm guard Sue Bird guessed, probably wisely, the team will work on its 2-3 zone offense at today's practice. The Storm has a rematch against Houston on Friday, where it will face former forward Barbara Turner — a perfect menace for Seattle's offense.
Along with not getting the ball inside, the Storm can also pin the loss on not making three-pointers, which is the antidote for a zone. Seattle, which was averaging 37.4 percent from behind the arc entering the game, was 2 for 19 on Wednesday.
"We tried to get the ball inside, but they were collapsing because we weren't making our threes," said center Janell Burse, who finished with a team-high 18 points. "It was a big snowball effect. With any team, when your defense is going, your offense is going and it felt like we weren't in our rhythm. After playing so well yesterday and not having the same team at all, it's just frustrating."
Indiana, which entered the league with the Storm in 2000, is in the midst of its best start in franchise history. It has won six consecutive games at Conseco Fieldhouse and the 28-point margin of defeat is Seattle's largest ever to an Eastern Conference team.
But it appeared as if Seattle would give Indiana its first loss at home of the season. The Storm hit its first eight shots to lead 16-8 five minutes into the game.
"It was like a fifth quarter from the game yesterday," said Burse of defeating Chicago. "But we just burned out."
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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