Seattle 75, Houston 67
Storm Start Defense With Win
HOUSTON, Aug. 30 (Ticker) -- The Seattle Storm showed the Houston Comets some championship mettle.
Lauren Jackson ignored a sore back to collect 19 points and 13 rebounds as the Storm began defense of their WNBA title with a 75-67 victory over the Comets in Game One of their Western Conference first-round series.
"Our offense is not set around me," Lennox said. "I do whatever I need to do to help out Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird."
"Betty was unstoppable," Jackson said. "That's what we need from her every game. Once she does that, we are unstoppable."
The Comets won the first four WNBA titles from 1997-2000 and still sport stars Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson from that squad. But Seattle broke through last season and appears intent on remaining on top.
Houston trailed for most of the game but grabbed a 50-48 lead on a three-point play by Dawn Staley with 9:21 to go. Second-seeded Seattle responded with a 12-3 surge fueled by five points from Lennox, last year's WNBA Finals MVP.
"In the second half we encouraged (Lennox) because we know they would focus in Lauren Jackson," Storm coach Anne Donovan said. "Most impressive on her play was her ability to to knock down open shots and get to the free throw line."
A free throw by Suzy Batkovic made it 60-53 with 5:32 remaining. The Comets closed to 69-65 on two foul shots by Swoopes with 1:11 left, but Bird answered with a runner in the lane 24 seconds later.
Michelle Snow scored 21 points and Swoopes added 15 for the third-seeded Comets. However, Swoopes made just 6-of-18 shots and Thompson just 4-of-13 for nine points.
"We have a lot of players on this team that can make shots," Snow said. "When you have your veterans that are not shooting (well), what you do as a post player (is) you try to draw the double-team and get them open shots."
"Our game plan was to focus on Sheryl Swoopes and for the off guard to help out and we did a great job on that," Lennox said. "Our defense assignment was to shut her down and make her take tough shots."