Storm finds a perfect stand-in
Seattle Times staff reporter
Storm @ San Antonio, 5 p.m.
HOUSTON — Seattle coach Anne Donovan has never hidden her uneasiness about letting her Storm offense be operated by anyone other than All-Star Sue Bird.
Yet, with the point guard resting in a Connecticut hospital after surgery to remove loose particles in her left knee, the control of the offense had to be turned over to Tanisha Wright.
And Seattle accomplished something it hadn't done since 2004 — it won in Houston.
Storm @ San Antonio, 5 p.m.
The Storm played a simple, focused game in defeating the struggling Comets 71-55 at the Toyota Center on Friday. All-Star Lauren Jackson led with a game-high 28 points and 13 rebounds.
"I don't think anyone really knew what to expect coming into this game and how we were going to react or respond to not having Sue," said Jackson, paying tribute to Wright. "But everyone played out of themselves. Even though at times we looked a little disorientated or we didn't know what was going on, T managed to calm everybody down and it was really good and composed. We need to continue that."
The Storm, which is on its first three-game win streak of the season, will be without Bird for at least the remaining three games heading into the midseason break.
Wright helped her teammates sparkle during a 14-0 run in the third quarter. The Storm took a 49-39 lead after a three-pointer by Betty Lennox, who had two threes during the spurt, one setup by Wright.
"I felt really comfortable," said Wright, who had eight points and five assists, but five turnovers. "It wasn't anything where I was nervous, more excited than anything — excited for the opportunity. It's a great opportunity for me to get some minutes and establish myself so when Sue comes back, they can begin to trust me with the minutes they do give me."
Seattle (10-7) held Houston to 25 percent shooting in the final quarter. And the Storm allowed the Comets to reach the free throw line only three times.
"I had confidence in Tanisha all along, so what she did tonight didn't surprise me," said Lennox, whose team is now 2-13 in Houston in franchise history. "They [the Comets] were shooting [51.7] percent in the first half. We came in at halftime and she [Donovan] was kind of harping on that a little bit. Our mentality was to go out and make sure they didn't shoot 50 percent in the second half," Lennox added.
The Storm collected the series victory, posting a 3-1 record against the Comets, who were without All-Star Sheryl Swoopes, but still had All-Stars Tina Thompson and Michelle Snow. Houston (4-13) also signed All-Star Tamecka Dixon to help season its young backcourt, but she was ineffective in 15 minutes.
"It seemed as though they executed their game plan very well because their offense was running a lot smoother than it probably should have been," said Thompson, whose team scored only 22 points in the second half. "We didn't take care of the ball. We forced them to turn over the ball, but we were doing the same."
The Storm heads to San Antonio for the second game in two nights.
"When someone goes down, someone steps up," Seattle's Wendy Palmer said. "You've been preparing all season for the moment — you definitely don't want it to happen — but T did an excellent job and LJ is having a career season. Everybody is coming together and getting it done."
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or email@example.com
Injuries: Storm — G Sue Bird (left knee) is out. Silver Stars — None.
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