Fever

70
Team1234T
Fever 1619221370
Storm 2319122478
Final   

Storm

78
Stormís Fourth-Quarter Surge Sinks Fever
By TIM BOOTH

Seattle 78, Indiana 70

SEATTLE, June 20 (AP) Sue Bird's offensive numbers were stellar. Her defense was the spark Seattle needed in the fourth quarter.

U.S. Olympic coach Anne Donovan -- who sat courtside Friday night -- can only hope Bird plays this well in Beijing.

Bird had 17 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals, and jump-started Seattle's fourth-quarter surge in a 78-70 victory over the Indiana Fever.

The impressive rally saw the Storm score 18 of the first 20 points in the fourth quarter, including 16 straight at one point, after Indiana had appeared to take control late in the third quarter behind Tamika Catchings.

"It seemed like it was a shot-clock violation, or a steal or just a defensive rebound ... but we played good in the fourth quarter defensively,'' Bird said. "It's something we've been working on all season, something we've come to rely on.''

Bird twice served as a spark, carrying a sluggish Seattle offense in the early moments, then igniting the Storm's fourth-quarter surge with her shooting and passing.

Bird scored Seattle's first five points of the quarter, including a driving three-point play to pull the Storm even at 59-all.

She then knocked the ball free from Indiana's LaToya Bond, starting a fastbreak that finished with Tanisha Wright's driving layup that gave Seattle a 61-59 lead.

Bird found Lauren Jackson popping out for a wide-open 3-pointer to push the lead to five, and Wright added two more baskets during the run, quickly pushing the lead to 13.

"It's just a tremendous team effort out there defensively during that stretch,'' Storm coach Brian Agler said.

Indiana went scoreless for more than 5 minutes and had eight of its 22 turnovers in the fourth quarter. Tully Bevilaqua hit two 3-pointers in the final 2 minutes to pull Indiana within four, but Sheryl Swoopes hit a 12-footer with 46 seconds left to push the lead back to six.

Indiana coach Lin Dunn, the first coach in Seattle's history, was upset with the free throw difference. Seattle took 27 attempts -- making 24 -- while Indiana was 10-for-10 at the line.

"It's a miracle we had a chance to win,'' Dunn said. "I'm not saying we're not aggressive but so are they. I was really disappointed in some of the calls.''

Jackson, the reigning league MVP, led Seattle with 18 points on 5-of-13 shooting. Swoopes added 13 points and Wright had 12 off the bench.

Tammy Sutton-Brown led Indiana with 14 points, as the Fever gained a spark in the third quarter from Catchings, who didn't play in the first half as she continues to recover from a right Achilles' tendon tear last season.

Indiana outscored Seattle 20-8 in the third quarter after Catchings entered, as the Fever took its first lead. Catchings made a brilliant one-handed pass while falling down to Sutton-Brown for an easy basket to get the Fever within one, then pulled Indiana even for the first time at 52-all with a 3-pointer.

"When she came in they were a completely different team with a completely different aggressiveness,'' Bird said of Catchings. "That's what makes her such a great player, her relentlessness and her energy.''

Bond added a 3-pointer moments later -- after getting her shot swatted by Swoopes -- giving the Fever their first lead.

But the Fever couldn't carry the momentum into the fourth.

"There were periods where (Seattle) played really well, and then a lot of times we did it to ourselves,'' Catchings said.

After a brief break to ride the exercise bike sitting courtside, Catchings returned and scored Indiana's first points of the fourth quarter on a jumper with 8 minutes left, before Seattle took control.

Catchings finished with six points and seven rebounds in 16 minutes.

"I'm coming along slowly but surely,'' she said. "I've come a long ways, but I've got a long way to go, too.''

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