Jackson Practices, Will Play
Seattle Storm forward Lauren Jackson, who sprained her right ankle in Tuesday's win over the New York Liberty and missed Wednesday's practice, returned to the practice court Friday as the Storm prepped for Saturday's home game against the Detroit Shock (1:00 p.m., ABC, ).
"She's going to play," said Storm Coach Anne Donovan. "She's not 100%, but she's going to play."
Jackson told reporters she felt, "Pretty good. Not too bad. I was out there and I was moving okay."
"Some of my movements are a bit funny," said Jackson, "my lateral movement, pushing off of it, but hopefully now that I've decided I'm going to get out there it will be fine."
Will Jackson be limited tomorrow?
"Not in what I ask her to do, probably in what she can do," said Donovan.
There is no question as to whether Detroit forward Swin Cash will play, but her health is also key. After tearing her left ACL last September, Cash missed the first 12 games of the season, returning for the Shock's final two games before the All-Star break. But the 2004 Olympian isn't yet herself, scoring double-figures only once in six games and averaging only 21.0 minutes per game.
"She's playing better and better, so against Connecticut she did better than the game before that," said Donovan. "It's kind of like Lauren. You miss that much time on the court, you've got to get your timing and your rhythm back. It will slowly kick in for her. She's a high-energy player, so whether or not she's scoring points, she's making things happen."
When the Shock started the season 4-0, including a season-opening win over the Connecticut Sun, it looked like the 2003 WNBA Champions were going to be able to weather Cash's absence. A 76-61 loss to the Storm at home, however, revealed cracks in Detroit's foundation. The Shock went on to lose five out of six games to even their record. 7-7 at the All-Star break, Detroit has lost three out of four games since then with starting point guard Elaine Powell sidelined by a WNBA suspension for an altercation in the Shock's July 7 win over Washington.
That one win? A 66-57 victory against the WNBA-leading Sun. Figuring out the Shock's season hasn't been easy.
"It makes you scratch your head, but they had a good win without Powell against Connecticut," said Donovan. "They've been up and down, no question, without Swin and then without Powell. Our win in Detroit, that makes you scratch your head. Without Sue Bird, coming on a back-to-back after a pretty deflating loss to Connecticut and they were not on their A game."
The brightest spot from the Shock's season thus far has been the performance of guard Deanna Nolan, one of Detroit's record four All-Stars (Cash and center Ruth Riley were voted in, while forward Cheryl Ford was also a reserve). Nolan ranks fifth in the WNBA in scoring and ninth in assists.
"Deanna Nolan is one of the best one-on-one players in the league," said Donovan. "She is so talented. Off the dribble, off the catch, she is one of the most explosive one-on-one players. She can get to the rim, get to the free-throw line or take the 3. Her consistency, I think, is probably the question with them. When she's playing well, it's a difficult team to beat, because if you focus on her, their inside game has so much dominance."
Detroit appears to have really missed Powell's steady hand at the point-guard position. After backup point Niele Ivey was waived just before the All-Star break, the Shock has turned to Seattle native Sheila Lambert - who played in Detroit in 2003 but had not played this season - as its starter at the point.
"It makes a difference just because she's not experienced in their system," Donovan said. "She started and played significant minutes until the last game against Connecticut, when she didn't play very much. I think it depends on if she's hot or cold, if she's controlled or if she's trying to do more than he wants her to do. Very talented point guard, just a different look from Powell, who knows the system."
"It was cool. I'm happy. That's awesome. I felt really cool about it."