Storm Blows Through Atlanta for WNBA Title

Sep 17 2010 11:54AM
The Storm swept through Atlanta, bringing home their second WNBA title in franchise history.

Seattle�s 87-84 victory came in Game 3 of the Finals on Thursday at Philips Arena in Atlanta. The win capped off a perfect postseason for the Storm in which they didn�t lose a single game in three series matchups.

�There is nothing like setting a goal at the beginning of the season and actually accomplishing it,� Storm guard Sue Bird said. �You�ll never feel as fulfilled, I�ll never feel as fulfilled, as I do right now.�

Thursday�s victory was perhaps the hardest of them all. Atlanta took a six-point lead in the third quarter and looked poised to pull away before Swin Cash�s pair of threes and another by Bird pulled them ahead for good. �We wanted this bad,� Cash said. �You could feel it not only on the floor, but our bench and in our fans, so this is just a really special thing.�

Atlanta kept the game tight all the way until the clock reached zero. With three minutes remaining, Seattle led by as much as 12. The Dream, led by Angel McCoughtry, went on a run and closed it within one with six seconds remaining. But Storm forward Camille Little hit two foul shots to put her team up by three. On the inbound, both McCoughtry and Coco Miller had clean looks at the basket, but both of their shots hit the rim.

�We just wanted to defend the three and make sure they didn�t get a good look,� guard Tanisha Wright said. �If they did get a good look, make sure it was good defense.�

Each of the five Storm starters registered double-digit scoring numbers, led by Cash, who finished with 18 points. Finals MVP Lauren Jackson, who also took home the regular season honor, had 15 points and nine rebounds. Bird added 14 points and seven assists.

�The thing we have going for us is our star players,� Storm head coach Brian Agler said. �Sue is such a great person and star, Olympian. Lauren is a great person, great player, All-Star, Olympian. They�re the best players in the world at their positions. They�re tremendous ambassadors for our team.�

Jackson and Bird were members of the Storm�s first championship in 2004. Both have been with Seattle their entire careers, which makes this occasion even more special. Six years ago, Bird was a third-year starter out of the University of Connecticut, while Jackson had one more year of experience on the team. Both said there�s no comparing the two rings.

�They�re completely different,� Jackson said. �After the last six years it�s definitely taken us a long time to get back to where we were. I can�t believe it�s over.�

The entire game was a back-and-forth battle for the Storm, who finished the season with 10 straight wins and a 3-0 mark on the road this postseason. Second-year forward McCoughtry was easily their biggest challenge. The University of Louisville product dropped a game-high 35 points, nine in the last three minutes. Erika de Souza was the Dream�s defensive star, registering a double-double with 14 rebounds and 10 points.

�Atlanta played great, they were so competitive,� Storm forward Svetlana Abrosimova said. �To beat them 3-0 is just amazing. The whole year has just been amazing.�

When asked what was the toughest part of their journey for a championship, Wright didn�t single out one specific team or player.

�The Phoenix series, the L.A. series, this series. Every single one of them was tough,� said Wright, who finished with 13 points. �Nothing was easy for us. All year, nothing was given to us.�

Seattle, which finished the season with a WNBA-record 35 wins, had no chance to close out the series on their home floor unless the Finals went to a deciding-Game 5. Cash, who also won titles with the Detroit Shock in 2003 and 2006, said capping off the series in Atlanta was just as rewarding, and perhaps a little tougher to accomplish.

�It feels just as good, but it�s special because you really have to dig it out when you�re on someone else�s home court and pull out a victory with as many fans they had here,� she said. �This one I�ll look back on and say, �This is sweet.��

The celebration won�t end Thursday. Seattle travels back to their home city on Friday before a celebratory parade later that evening. Then, next season, the team will make a trip to the White House to meet with President Barack Obama.

�President Obama, here I come,� Cash yelled into the locker room, causing a loud cheer amongst her teammates.

Cash added: �If I never win anything else, I can say I�m a champion. But this is just like sugar on top. This is unbelievable.�

That�s the sentiment that each member of the Storm organization feels at this very moment. It�s a surreal sense of accomplishment with a reward being a trophy, rings and memories that will be ingrained in the minds of each for the rest of their lives.
Series Info
Game 1: SEA 79, ATL 77: Box | Recap | Photos | Video
Game 2: SEA 87, ATL 84: Box | Recap | Photos | Video
Game 3: SEA 87, ATL 84: Box | Recap | Photos | Video

Gm 1: SEA 82, PHX 74
Box | Recap | Photos
Gm 2: SEA 91, PHX 88
Box | Recap | Photos

Gm 1: SEA 79, LAS 66
Box | Recap | Photos
Gm 2: SEA 81, LAS 66
Box | Recap | Photos

Gm 1: PHX 106, SAN 93
Box | Recap | Photos
Gm 2: PHX 92, SAN 73
Box | Recap | Photos

Gm 1: ATL 81, NYL 75
Box | Recap | Photos
Gm 2: ATL 105, NYL 93
Box | Recap | Photos

Gm 1: ATL 95 WAS 90
Box | Recap | Photos
Gm 2: ATL 101 WAS 77
Box | Recap | Photos

Gm 1: NYL 85, IND 73
Box | Recap | Photos
Gm 2: IND 75, NYL 67
Box | Recap | Photos
Gm 3: NYL 77, IND 74
Box | Recap | Photos