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|Sue Bird dropped 17 points on the Mystics Sunday afternoon|
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When Lauren Jackson announced that she would be undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in her left hip, the Storm was met with the realization that it would be without its star player for the next 8-12 weeks. With Jackson out, it would require a strong effort from the rest of the roster.
Camille Little was the first to step up without Jackson in the lineup when she dropped 16 points in a 65-55 win over the Minnesota Lynx on June 24. One week later it was Swin Cash, who scored 25 against the Sun in what amounted to the first loss without Jackson, a 75-70 road loss at Mohegan Sun Arena.
On Sunday, Seattle once again righted the ship as Cash (19), Sue Bird (17) and Le'coe Willingham (17) each chipped in double-figures to produce a 73-63 win in the nation's capital. It was also the first time since 2006 that the Storm has walked away victors on the road in Washington, D.C.
In just three games without Jackson the Storm has produced a 2-1 record. Surely time will test the team's ability to stand tall in the face of losing the 2010 MVP for the better part of the season. Not only is Seattle trying to get by on the injury front, but accuracy and a little bit of luck is something Swish Appeal's Nate Parham suggests is not in the Storm's favor at the moment:
The type of decline the 2011 Storm are going through simply doesn't happen: no above average three point shooting team that has returned all of its starters and its primary three point shooters and experienced a decline in three point shooting percentage of this character. The fact that they're shooting about the same rate as they were last season speaks to the sort of inane conclusion one might come to from watching them: the shots just aren't falling this year.
Three-point shooting aside, if you glance over Seattle's leading scorers from the last three games you'll see a stronger team effort taking shape. Or, if anything, the notion that any player can go off for 20 points or so on any given night.
Little led the way against the Lynx but received 13 points from Cash along with 11 points each from Willingham and Tanisha Wright. Cash posted a team-high against the Sun but received 10 apiece from Little and Willingham as well before Seattle fell just short of taking the win on the road. And on Friday it was Cash's 19 with help from Bird and Willingham that registered one more win.
It remains a tough road ahead for the Storm. No one ever said it would be easy getting by without a three-time MVP in the lineup. But so far Seattle is finding ways to make it work and will continue to do so until Jackson's return to the court. Then, with the playoffs looming and a healthy Jackson down the middle, the Storm can prepare to make a healthy run for a consecutive WNBA title.
Here’s a look at how the rest of the games played out during the holiday weekend:
New 81, San Antonio 75
Cappie Pondexter scored 19 as the Liberty halted the streaking Silver Stars.
Connecticut 75, Seattle 70
Tina Charles scored 20 points and added 10 rebounds for her sixth straight double-double in a win over the Storm.
Phoenix 97, Chicago 84
Diana Taurasi scored a game-high 24 points to give the Mercury its fifth win of the season.
The regular-season grind of a 34-game WNBA schedule can be unforgiving. Teams that get out to a slow start often find themselves covering ground after the midway point of the season. A low-key injury such as a sprained ankle can keep a player out of the lineup for a number of games, considering some teams may have three games scheduled over the span of four days.
Seattle 73, Washington 63
Swin Cash scored 19 points while Sue Bird and Tanisha Wright each added 17 to power the Storm past the Mystics.
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