Storm fights ugly, beats Houston
Seattle Times staff reporter
Detroit Shock @ Storm, 7 p.m.
Since Seattle entered the WNBA as an expansion team in 2000, it has desired Houston's success: four championships and league dominance.
The situation has nearly flipped. Seattle has its own title now, and Houston is a shell of its former self, rebuilding with a young backcourt and simply trying to scrap for a win.
But Houston will continue to fight.
The Storm played one of its most physical games of the season, dragging itself through the Comets' mucky style before finally playing fluid basketball in the second half, winning 84-71 at KeyArena in front of 7,756.
Houston played without All-Star Sheryl Swoopes, who is out with a back injury, leaving All-Stars Tina Thompson and Michelle Snow as the anchors.
The Comets fell to 0-9, the second-worst start in WNBA history.
Detroit owns the record, starting the 2002 season at 0-13. But the Shock won the league championship the following season.
"They're a young team at the guard position and I don't think they're used to that," Storm guard Sue Bird said. "They've always had veteran experienced players to complement what Tina and Sheryl and now Michelle Snow do ...
"And it's not that the guards make the forwards look good, it's that they make it easier for them. Experience, you can't buy that."
Seattle knows. It has tried for years to dominate Houston, going winless in three games last season.
Seattle beat Houston 82-69 in their first matchup this year, May 19. Completing the home sweep on Friday wasn't easy.
The Storm took a teetering 52-50 lead midway through the third quarter before going on a 16-4 run to take a 68-54 lead with 8:33 remaining.
All-Star Lauren Jackson scored 21 of her 30 points in the second half, including 5 of 7 from three-point range.
Seattle's defense held the Comets without a field goal for 6:19 in the second half.
"It was a football match out there for a minute," said Jackson, who scored 30 points or more for the 11th time in her career and the third time this season.
"Physically, they're a great team. They're tough and strong and are going to start piling up the wins when they're at full strength. It's just been a tough year for them."
The game was so physical, Storm center Janell Burse was encased in ice from a hard foul from Latasha Byears and a mystery punch to the right cheek.
"She was basically swinging on me," said Burse, who had already injured her left shoulder in practice on Thursday. "Anytime my shoulder moves, it's more vulnerable. Going into the game I knew that, but thank God it didn't move."
The Storm (5-4) appeared ready to succumb to another rough night against the 2-3 zone early in the second quarter — as it did on Wednesday in Indiana.
Houston placed guards Ashley Shields and Tamara Moore with posts Barbara Turner (a former Storm forward), Latasha Byears and Snow on the court. The Storm immediately turned the ball over and was unable to get the ball inside.
Seattle had nine turnovers in the half and allowed Houston to shoot 51.5 percent as it entered the break down 45-40.
The Comets were unable to fully capitalize on the successful defense, however.
Trailing 30-29 midway through the second quarter, the Storm went on a 10-0 run.
Storm guard Betty Lennox, who has struggled offensively, led in the opening half with 10 points and finished with 18.
"We will not stay this way," Houston coach Karleen Thompson said. "Change is going to happen."
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or email@example.com.
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