Jacksonís Historic Night Not Enough for Storm
Lauren Jackson made WNBA history Tuesday night, but it wasn't enough to carry the Seattle Storm to a victory in Washington. Jackson's final bucket gave her a career-high 47 points, tying the WNBA record for single-game scoring, and brought the Storm within one point of the Mystics. However, the shot came with just seconds left in the overtime session and the Storm never got off another shot, falling 97-96 in one of the wildest games in franchise history.
After the Mystics shot and ran their way to 31 third-quarter points and a lead as large as 11 in the period, Jackson and a 2-3 zone defense rallied the Storm. Starting at the 7:29 mark of the third, Jackson ripped off 23 of the Storm's next 27 points. Her final shot of the stretch, a three-pointer, gave her a new career high with 37 points.
Jackson had one more big play left in her. After five straight Alana Beard points untied the game, a Jackson three-point play brought the Storm back within two at the 1:07 mark. Jackson missed a chance to tie on the Storm's ensuing possession and a Beard jumper in the closing seconds essentially sealed the game despite Jackson's last bucket.
Still, Jackson's final shot was crucial. It pushed her to 47 points on the evening, tying Diana Taurasi's effort in triple-OT last August at Houston. The three was also Jackson's 18th field goal of the evening, breaking the record of 17 she shared with Taurasi and Chicago's Jia Perkins. Jackson became the fifth player in WNBA history to score 40 points in a game, something that has been done a total of eight times.
Jackson's performance dazzled not only her teammates but the opposition as well.
"You canít do anything," said Beard. "Sometimes players are on a roll. Lauren Jackson is one of those players that can be on that roll. Sheís a tremendous player inside out. We did everything we could to stop her. She had a great game."
"She was awesome tonight," added center Nakia Sanford. "I mean, what can you do? It seemed like she hit absolutely every shot."
Great performance or not, the Storm was unable to celebrate after ending a four-game road trip at 1-3 and falling back to .500 on the season (12-12).
"Iím just sad that we lost," said Jackson. "We worked really hard and itís a shame that we lost."
The reason Jackson's effort went for naught was a leaky defense that imploded in the third quarter. Washington shot 76.5% (13-17) in the period, including a stretch with scores on eight straight possessions and 11 out of 12. Despite 16 points in the quarter from Jackson, the Storm went from tied at the half to down seven entering the final period.
"The third quarter was pretty horrific defensively," said Storm Head Coach Anne Donovan. "They were in quite a grove until we went into zone. That stopped their grove, but we just didnít play very well in the third quarter."
The Mystics, who entered the game last in the WNBA in both field-goal percentage and three-point percentage, hit 49.3% from the field and 9-of-22 (from 40.9%) from beyond the arc. Beard, with 27 points - seven in overtime - led three Washington players over the 20 mark. Monique Currie proved difficult for the Storm to stop, scoring 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting and adding 11 boards.
On the Storm side, Jackson was the only starter and one of only two players who saw action to hit 50% from the field. Sue Bird had her best game since returning from knee surgery, scoring 12 points and handing out seven assists, but could not get a three-pointer to fall, missing all six of her attempts. Iziane Castro Marques was the Storm's second-leading scorer with 16 points, but did not shoot the ball particularly well (6-15).
The Storm's other two starters, Janell Burse and Betty Lennox, were replaced by reserves Wendy Palmer and Tanisha Wright down the stretch. Lennox scored four points in 21 quiet minutes, while Burse was plagued by foul trouble from the start of the game, playing just 11 minutes. She scored both of her points from the free-throw line.
Wright, who was the only Storm player besides Jackson to score in overtime, and Palmer, who grabbed 10 rebounds, stepped in with solid efforts, but the Storm needed more to overcome a Washington team that won for the fifth time in six games to move within a half-game of a playoff spot.
"We need to get some help for Lauren Jackson in the post," said Donovan. "She showed why sheís the MVP of the league. When she scores 47 points and we still canít win the game, thatís tough to swallow."
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