Storm stung by close loss to Lynx
Special to The Seattle Times
|Seattle||17||22||19||18 — 76|
|Minnesota||15||20||23||20 — 78|
MINNEAPOLIS — One thing the Storm had been spared so far in its up-and-down season had been any protracted bouts of second-guessing.
But after falling 78-76 to the Minnesota Lynx on Friday on Seimone Augustus' 17-foot jumper with 5.2 seconds left, the Storm was left with a series of what-if moments.
What if guard Sue Bird had worked the pick-and-roll as intended, or even looked for her own shot, after Seattle set up with 37 seconds left and the score tied at 76?
What if Shyra Ely had stayed tighter on Augustus at the other end, contesting the game-winner more or maybe forcing a drive to help defenders?
"It's been a very weird season so far for us," said Bird, who scored a game-high 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting. "We've beaten teams by 20 and we've lost by 20. But ... what we're going to take from this one is, we didn't give up. We kept fighting."
Up 39-35 at halftime, the Storm (5-6) got outscored 9-2 in the first 4:07 of the third quarter. The Lynx (4-10) then put up a 13-3 run to start the fourth. But Seattle scratched back, with Bird scoring seven consecutive points to pull her club to 76-76.
Then Augustus hit her game-winner.
Said Ely: "I gave her too much space. I was thinking drive to the basket. That was my own error in thought. But she's a great player and you have to give her a lot of respect, the way she finished the game."
That's how the Storm chooses to look at it, too, preferring to focus on the way it finished after trailing late by 10.
"We're talented enough and we're experienced enough," Bird said, "if we keep that intensity level where it was tonight, we'll always be in ballgames. Because we shouldn't lose by 20 or 30 points — it shouldn't happen."
Talking it out
After the loss, Anne Donovan and several players downplayed a Seattle Times story alleging tension and displeasure with the coach.
"We talked about it. Acknowledged it, and we moved on," said Donovan, who was cited in the story as the source of the team's discord.
Donovan said the coaches and players met Friday, but "not for that reason."
"We have our typical game-day meetings, and we talked about the article," said Donovan, in her fifth season in Seattle. "It's not my style to point fingers or place blame. So it's done."
Grueling practices and poor communication were two of the issues mentioned in the story. But Bird attributed the team's woes to frustration and other mistakes in losing six of its past nine games.
"Nah, chemistry is not our problem," she said. "We can't pinpoint the reason. We're just not playing well right now."
Ely said she had not read the story. "I just feel like, we'll take care of the problems that we have," she said. "Like any team, there are things that go on internally. It's just important that we take care of it in due time, because 5-6 isn't going to cut it. If that is the problem, we'll take care of it."
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company