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Storm Comes Up Short of Lynx Again, 73-60

September 10, 2013

They still haven’t figured out a way to beat the Minnesota Lynx. But the Seattle Storm get at least two more chances to try.

Tanisha Wright is looking forward to them.

Wright had 14 points on Tuesday night and was the only Storm player in double figures as the Lynx completed a four-game regular-season sweep with a 73-60 victory in KeyArena.

The loss, coupled with Phoenix’ 80-76 win at New York, locked Seattle (15-17) into fourth place, and secured the Western Conference crown for Minnesota (25-7). The Lynx extended their late-season winning streak to seven games, with three of those coming in the past 11 days against the Storm.

Now, the teams will meet again in the best-of-3 conference semifinals for the second year in a row. Dates and times will be announced next week. The series will begin in Minneapolis, and the Storm’s home game will be either Saturday or Sunday, Sept. 21 or 22, in the Tacoma Dome, as KeyArena is not available. The Lynx would host a third game, if needed.

“We’re competitors. You want to be able to play 50 times until you get a win,” Wright said. “We’ll see them again. That’s where were at … we’ll see them again.”

First-place Minnesota has been enough of a nemesis for the Storm, having won nine of the last 10 over the past two summers.

Now, however, Seattle must finish the season against Tulsa, buried in last place, but having beaten the Storm in all three games this year. The last two were by double-digit blowouts: 92-70 in Tulsa, where they play on Thursday at 5 p.m. PDT, and 86-59 points in Seattle, where they meet again on Saturday night at 7.

“Tulsa has had our number this season,” Noelle Quinn said after finishing with seven points and a team-high eight rebounds as she took over a starting spot from guard Temeka Johnson, who was out with heel pain. “We just have to go in there with the mindset that we can beat them, and we just have to be mentally and physically prepared for whatever they throw at us.”

Saturday’s Storm-Shock contest in the Key will be a celebration of Seattle’s Tina Thompson, who is ending her legendary 17-year WNBA career after the playoffs. Ceremonies will take place following the game.

The Lynx used three small scoring runs – all of them six points in a row – to take a 30-17 lead by the midpoint of the second quarter. The Storm, after missing their first six shots of the quarter, finally got a 3-pointer from Alysha Clark with 4:30 on the clock, then Wright followed with an 18-footer from the right of the lane to cut the margin to 30-22.

Minnesota answered with its largest surge of the half, putting the next 10 points on the board to push its lead to 18 at 40-22. The Storm were back within range by halftime, as Thompson drained a turnaround 16-footer from the left of the lane, Wright put her own miss back in, and then a few seconds later hit a pair of free throws. That sent Seattle into the locker room down just 12 at 40-28.

But the Storm never got any closer than that during the final 20 minutes. Minnesota went up by 20 before the end of the third quarter, and had it up to 24 at 64-40 with 8:38 left in the game.

The Lynx enjoyed huge advantages in rebounding (36-20, with 12 offensive boards to just four for the Storm), fast-break points (20-2) and points in the paint (30-18). Seattle also had 17 turnovers, factoring into 22 Minnesota points.

“It’s a lot of things. But I think mainly, we haven’t been able to put a full game together,” Wright said. “They disrupted our offense, got some turnovers, got some hands on balls, and they scored easily. We need to put together a full 40-minute game taking away all of their strengths.”

Camille Little and Clark added nine points apiece for the Storm. Seattle was getting nice boost from Clark, who had all of her scoring of 3-pointers before she crashed hard to the floor battling for a loose ball with Minnesota’s Rebekkah Brunson near the end of the third quarter. Clark was helped off the court, did not return for the fourth quarter, and now is day-to-day, as is Johnson.

“Alysha was playing very energized, and was helping us,” Storm coach Brian Agler said. “Once we lost her, we were down to three perimeter players. That hurt us in multiple ways, not only in losing her energy, but it just didn’t give us any depth.”

Maya Moore, limited to just 11 points in last Saturday’s 75-60 Lynx win in the Key, went off for a game-high 20 on Tuesday. Lindsay Whalen had 19, with 17 of those in the first half.

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