Sue Bird has helped the Seattle Storm to a franchise-record seven-game winning streak without two-time WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson.
She'll try to continue her strong play on Sunday as the Storm visit the struggling Washington Mystics, who'll play their first game after firing coach Tree Rollins.
Bird scored eight of her 11 points in the fourth quarter Friday, helping Seattle (15-7) overcome a 17-point first-half deficit to beat Indiana 65-59 in the opener of a four-game road trip. It was the Storm's seventh consecutive win since they lost 76-62 at Los Angeles on June 24.
Friday's victory also came without Jackson, who's among the league leaders with 20.2 points per game and tops Seattle with 7.0 rebounds and 1.6 blocks a contest. Jackson is in Australia preparing for next month's Olympics.
"Each time we try to go out and play together as a team and even without (Jackson) we've been able to play at a high level," said Bird, who is expected to play for the United States in Beijing. "A seven-game winning streak is something that we are proud of."
Bird, who is averaging 15.0 points and 6.1 assists over the last seven games, leads the WNBA with 6.0 assists per game and is second on the Storm in scoring (12.9).
She helped start the record streak on June 29 by scoring 14 points and dishing out seven assists in a 64-49 home win over Washington (8-14).
The Storm, who are 3-6 on the road, have won four of the last five meetings with the Mystics, with the lone loss coming at the Verizon Center on July 24 of last year.
The Mystics, fifth in the Eastern Conference and losers of six of their last eight, are hoping a coaching change can help spur the team. Washington lost 99-62 to Detroit at home on Friday, one night after falling 77-56 at New York. The Mystics committed 20 turnovers in each loss.
Washington responded to those listless performances by firing Rollins on Saturday, replacing him with assistant coach and director of scouting Jessie Kenlaw on an interim basis.
Rollins was named coach on June 1, 2007, and went 16-14 while failing to guide the Mystics to the playoffs.
Kenlaw has been an assistant in the WNBA for eight years. She spent four seasons with the Storm, helping them to the 2004 WNBA title.
"We appreciate all of Tree's efforts on behalf of the Mystics and wish him the best in his future endeavors," Mystics general manager Linda Hargrove said in a statement. "We feel that Jessie's high energy and discipline approach to the game will inspire our team."
The Mystics could use a better performance from guard-forward Alana Beard, their leading scorer with 17.0 points per game. The three-time All-Star went 1-for-7 for a season-low three points on Friday. She's averaging 8.8 points over the last five games after totaling 51 in the previous two.
Beard scored 16 points at Seattle on June 29, and has averaged 24.3 points over these teams' last three meetings in the nation's capital.