Jackson - 25.0
Bird – 12.0
Vodichkova - 9.0
Lassiter – 7.5
Williams - 7.0
Jackson - 12.0
Bird – 3.5
Burras - 3.5
Edwards - 3.5
Vodichkova - 3.5
Bird - 7.5
Jackson - 2.0
Lassiter/Williams - 2.0
Record for the week: 2-0
Overall Record: 16-11
Standing: 3rd, Western Conference
Thursday, July 31, 2003
Already struggling in the second half without All-Star center Lisa Leslie
, the Sparks got further bad news when they traveled to Seattle without forward DeLisha Milton
. Without Leslie and Milton, Los Angeles was woefully overmatched up front, forcing former Coach of the Year Michael Cooper
to find any way possible to negate the Storm’s dominance up front. With Lauren Jackson
scorching the Sparks single-teams early on (she scored 22 of the Storm’s first 24 points), Cooper went small and put 5-11 small forward Mwadi Mabika
at power forward. The move provided the Sparks an offensive mismatch and also caused the Storm to go away from Jackson and instead focus on getting the ball to centers Kamila Vodichkova
and Simone Edwards
, who matched up against Mabika. The move worked, as Jackson did not score in the final 8:23 of the first half, Mabika had 13 first-half points, and the Sparks trailed by just three points at halftime. In the second half, the Storm figured out the small lineup and dominated. A 22-4 run that lasted seven minutes put the game away for the Storm, who hung the worst loss in their history on the Sparks by a 92-56 final. Jackson finished with a career-high and franchise-record 34 points, making 17 of 23 field-goal tries. The 17 made field goals set a new WNBA record, and Jackson’s 11 first-half field goals tied another WNBA mark. Jackson added 13 rebounds for a double-double, her fifth straight, and Sue Bird
also had a double-double with 10 points and 10 assists. Playing big, Mabika finished with her first double-double of the season, 15 points and 10 rebounds, but was held to just two points by Jackson in the second half.
Saturday, Aug. 2, 2003
When backup center Alisa Burras
checked into the Storm’s game against the Minnesota Lynx with 11:20 to play, it seemed innocent enough. It might have changed the Storm’s season. Seconds after Burras entered the game, Lynx forward Svetlana Abrosimova
hit a free throw to complete a three-point play and give the Lynx its largest lead of the night, 46-40. The Storm would shake off offensive doldrums to score on ten of its next eleven possessions, all told a 19-8 run that took Seattle from down six to up five. Bird, showing the clutch second-half play she displayed throughout her rookie season, had eight points and Burras four, giving the Storm offensive production it wasn’t getting from the center position. With 4:44 left, however, the “must-win” game was far from over. Whenever the Storm scored, Lynx All-Star Katie Smith
would have the answer to get her team back within two. Her final basket did just that, as Minnesota trailed 63-61 with 53 seconds left after two Smith free throws. With the shot clock running down, the Storm’s Amanda Lassiter
missed from the perimeter, but Jackson was there to scoop up a critical rebound and follow the shot with a short layup. Still the Lynx would not go away, with center Janell Burse
scoring down low to cut the lead to two again. Lassiter was fouled, hitting both shots, and more importantly sending Smith out of the game with six personals. And still the Lynx would not go away, with reserve guard Kristi Harrower
driving the lane to score with four seconds left. Minnesota fouled backup guard Rita Williams
, who had drove the lane for a critical score at the one-minute mark. Williams made her first attempt and missed the second, but the rebound bounced long and was collected by Lassiter near halfcourt as the Storm held on to a 68-65 victory that was the first of the season over Minnesota. With the win, the Storm moved a game and a half up on Minnesota and the Sacramento Monarchs for the third seed in the Western Conference.
Player of the Week
F Lauren Jackson
25.0 ppg, 12.0 rpg, 4.0 bpg, 2.0 apg, 62.5% shooting
For the third time this season, Jackson has won the WNBA’s Player of the Week honors, tying her with Leslie for the most PotW awards earned in one season. Inevitably, she is STORM.WNBA.COM Player of the Week for the unprecedented fifth time this season. Jackson’s streaks, which she extended last week, are reaching epic proportions. There was some drama as to whether Jackson’s streak of 15 or more points would continue against Minnesota (most fans, alas, seemed more concerned with the outcome of the game). With under a minute left, Jackson was stuck on 14 points, having been held to just two by stifling Lynx double-teams in the second half. Her putback with 28 seconds left not only gave the Storm a four-point lead and some breathing room, it also put Jackson at 16 points and extended her streak to 26 games. It is now the second longest in WNBA history, trailing only the 29-game streak of Houston Comets guard Cynthia Cooper. Naturally, Jackson also extended her double-figures streak, now 46 games. Jackson’s pair of double-doubles were her fifth and sixth in a row, tying a WNBA record. Three other players have had streaks of six straight double-doubles – Detroit’s Cindy Brown (7/31/98-8/11/98), Utah’s Natalie Williams (7/18/00-8/2/00) and Leslie (5/24/03-6/7/03).
Bird led the Storm against Minnesota with 17 points.
With Friday’s victory over Minnesota, the Storm is now further over .500 than it has ever been in team history. During the inaugural 2000 season, the Storm was never over .500. In 2001, the team twice reached two games over .500 at 4-2 and 7-5. Last year, as Seattle earned its first playoff berth, the Storm were two games over on four occasions (3-1, 15-13, 16-14 and 17-15) and set a new record by briefly getting three games over at 17-14. The Storm’s breakout 2003 season has seen the team blow by those prior records. The Storm has been +2 three times this season, +3 six times, +4 four times and finally five games over at the present time. With two wins, the Storm has moved within one game of its all-time wins mark of 17, set last season, and the 11 home wins are already a team record. The Storm is currently on an eight-game home winning streak, the longest in team history.
While Bird is no longer the WNBA’s assists leader, having relinquished the lead to Sacramento’s Ticha Penicheiro – who has led the league in assists in all five of her seasons – she is still having a passing season for the ages. With her double-double against the Sparks, Bird set a new WNBA record for most point-assist double-doubles in a season with seven. In addition, Bird is closing in on Penicheiro’s record of 11 double-digit assists games in a single season. With seven games left on the schedule, Bird has tied Penicheiro’s 1998 and 2002 campaigns with eight double-digit efforts and trails only Penicheiro’s 2000 performance.
The Week Ahead
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