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Storm Edges Silver Stars, 72-71

August 27, 2013

By some accounts, Tina Thompson will be ending her legendary career too soon when she retires at the end of the current season.

So she is doing everything she can to make sure the season doesn’t end too soon.

The 17-year veteran did her part in a big way on Tuesday night to push the Seattle Storm closer toward extending that season. Thompson registered her fourth double-double of the year, pumping in a game high 27 points and grabbing a season-best 13 rebounds – the last of which came on a missed San Antonio shot with one second left – as the Storm hung on to beat the Silver Stars, 72-71.

The victory in the AT&T Center cut Seattle’s magic number for clinching a playoff spot to two.

The Storm, currently fourth in the Western Conference, leveled their record at 14-14 and dropped the Silver Stars to 10-18. The most San Antonio can win now is 16. So if Seattle wins at least two more, or wins at least one and the Stars lose at least one, then the Storm are in the postseason for a league-record 10th straight year.

Even if the teams wind up with identical final records, Seattle gets the tiebreaker by virtue of taking the season series, 3-2.

“It was very close to (playoff atmosphere),” Thompson said. “Some players understood tonight had a huge effect on the standings and how things would unfold once it comes down to the end of the season. It was definitely a very important game.”

Camille Little added 14 points for the Storm, and Tanisha Wright did a lot of everything with 11 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

Seattle bounced back from Sunday’s 70-64 loss at San Antonio, and comes back home for Thursday night’s 7 p.m. game against Connecticut having won two out of three on the road trip, four of its last five overall, and 7 of 11 in the second half of the season.

“I just know we were more ready to play tonight,” Storm head coach Brian Agler said. “I can tell with our energy. We had a couple days here to get a little bit of rest. Both teams understood the importance of the game. They got off to a good start and we were a little bit passive. But after the timeout, we came out, and that’s when the game got close.”

Except for a 55-55 tie when Perkins hit two free throws with 5:53 left, the Storm clung to a precarious lead for the entire fourth quarter. They built it to as many as seven points at 67-60 on a lay-up by Little with 2:03 remaining.

San Antonio got it down to 67-64 on four straight points by Davellyn Whyte, the last two of those coming on a pair of free throws with 57.2 seconds remaining. A driving lay-up by Temeka Johnson, and a free throw from Little had Seattle back on top by six at 70-64 with 23.8 to play.

Thompson seemingly iced it for the Storm with two free throws at 20.3 seconds to make it 72-65. But the Silver Stars’ Shenise Johnson drained a 3-pointer with 7.5 seconds left, then stole the inbounds pass and found Perkins for a 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds to go, bringing San Antonio within 72-71.

Another steal and last-gasp shot fell short, and Thompson pulled it down.

She really took over and got us back with some offensive boards, 3’s, and free throw attempts,” Agler said of Thompson’s performance. “She’s one of the all-time best (and) she continues to show it at 38.

“I’ve coached some of the best players, and she takes a back seat to no one in regards to competitiveness.”

Just like on Sunday, when the Silver Stars led from wire to wire, they got off to a quick start, building a 10-2 lead a mere 3 minutes, 10 seconds into the game.

But this time, the Storm climbed back in, closing to 16-15 by the end of the first quarter, with Thompson supplying nine of those points and 11 total in the period. The first half finished in a 31-31 tie.

“We were down like that early in the first game, and we didn’t respond,” Thompson said. “At every moment (tonight), our mindset was to respond no matter what the circumstances were, and I think we did that.”

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