2004 WNBA Playoffs: Round 1, Game 1
Saturday, Sept. 25, 2004
Storm 70, Lynx 58
Seattle leads 1-0
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Seattle grabbed a 1-0 lead in its best-of-three first-round Western Conference playoff series with this afternoon's 12-point win over the Lynx. It's the first postseason victory in franchise history for the Storm, who were swept by Los Angeles in 2002, their only previous appearance.
Minnesota falls to 1-1 at Target Center in the playoffs, having beaten the Sparks in Game 1 a year ago (74-72 on Aug. 28, 2003) before losing that first-round matchup in three.
The Storm held Minnesota without a field goal for over five minutes to begin the game, opening up an early eight-point lead. However, Amanda Lassiter keyed a 13-0 Lynx outburst with three three-pointers as Minnesota jumped in front 20-15. Seattle responded by forcing turnovers on seven consecutive Lynx possessions, rattling off 12 unanswered points to claim a 32-24 halftime lead as Minnesota went 4:43 without a field-goal attempt.
Seattle shot 56 percent (15-for-27) in the second half, highlighted by Lauren Jackson's 4-for-4 effort and a 4-for-7 outing from Sheri Sam. Jackson, who was limited to four minutes of action in the first half due to foul trouble, and Sam had combined for just two points (and 1-for-7 shooting) before intermission, but provided 23 of the Storm's 38 points in the second half. Jackson tallied 10 points during a 3:30 stretch (from 13:52 to 10:22) that helped Seattle double its lead from 40-35 to 54-44.
Minnesota's 58 points represent a playoff single-game low (previous: 64 at Los Angeles, Game 3, Sept. 1, 2003), although its 44.0% shooting narrowly missed breaking the franchise postseason high (44.6% in Game 1 vs. L.A.). The Lynx committed 20 turnovers (as Seattle compiled a 20-10 advantage in points off TOs), four shy of the club playoff mark (24 at Los Angeles, Game 2, Aug. 30, 2003).
Seattle outrebounded the Lynx 32-27, including 17-12 in the first half when the Storm racked up a 9-0 edge in second-chance points. In four 2004 meetings between Minnesota and Seattle, the visiting team has held the board advantage every game. The Lynx began with a 35-28 cushion on Opening Night (May 20) at KeyArena, but Seattle has since outboarded Minnesota in three straight at Target Center (36-32 on July 30, 28-27 on Sept. 10).
The Storm set franchise playoff records with their 70 points and 47.5% shooting this afternoon. In two games vs. Los Angeles during the 2002 Playoffs, Seattle averaged 60.0 ppg and hit just 34.8% from the floor. The Storm were also outrebounded in both games vs. the Sparks (by an average of -7.5 rpg). In addition, Seattle established club playoff marks this afternoon in assists (22), steals (12), blocks (6) and fewest turnovers (14).
The Lynx finished 5-for-13 (38.5%) from three-point range, highlighted by Lassiter's 3-for-4 effort, while Seattle went 3-for-8. During the regular season, Minnesota led the WNBA in opponent's three-point percentage at 27.9% — the fourth-best defensive percentage in league history — and fewest three-pointers allowed at 92 (2.71 per game, the WNBA's second-lowest figure all-time behind Phoenix' 2.57 in 1998).
Five Lynx players made their WNBA Playoffs debuts this afternoon, including four rookies. Nicole Ohlde scored a game-high 17 points while adding six rebounds and a team- and season-high six assists.
Tamika Williams (one of only three holdovers from last year's postseason series vs. Los Angeles, along with Svetlana Abrosimova and Teresa Edwards) tallied 16 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Williams has now scored 16+ points in all four of her playoff appearances with Minnesota; she averaged 16.7 ppg and 7.3 rpg against the Sparks in 2003.
Sam registered the first point/rebound double-double in Storm playoff history with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while also handing out a game-high seven assists. Her rebound and assist totals are both career playoff bests, and the 10 boards are a franchise postseason high. Sam, who averaged 8.7 ppg and 5.3 rpg in three playoff outings for Minnesota a year ago, posted one double-double during the 2004 regular season (July 1 vs. San Antonio).