For longer than the 5,741 fans at KeyArena would have liked Wednesday night, the Seattle Storm risked going on the road with a flight that would have been long both figuratively and in distance.
Facing the expansion Chicago Sky, loser of five straight coming into Seattle, the Storm jumped to an early lead, then struggled the rest of the game to pull away.
Finally, in the fourth quarter, Seattle got its act together for an 86-73 victory that was much less comfortable than the score indicates.
"It's a long trip regardless," Storm coach Anne Donovan of the team's overnight flight to Connecticut, where Seattle plays Friday. "But if you're going off of a loss or poor performance, it makes the trip even more difficult. It's probably the best way to start it."
The Storm appeared headed for a laugher, leading by as many as 12 in the first quarter.
Playing only the seventh game in franchise history, Chicago looked every bit an expansion team, turning the ball over on its first three possessions and going scoreless for the first three minutes.
The Sky (1-6) settled down, cutting Seattle's lead to two with a 17-7 run over a five-minute stretch of the first and second quarters.
The Storm (4-3) led throughout the second half, but the Sky refused to go away. With one minute to play in the third quarter, Bernadette Ngoyisa cut Seattle's lead to one with a three-point play.
"They're an expansion team. If anything, you expect them to fight and not give up," said Storm guard Sue Bird. "They really have nothing to lose. They only have one win on the season so far and I think it's dangerous to take them lightly. They're not a bad team. They're a good team."
Seattle finally pulled away with a 16-4 run to open the fourth quarter.
Bird, who spent the better part of Tuesday night throwing up after a bout of food poisoning, shook it off to have a strong final quarter with six points and two steals.
"It's been a long day," said Bird, who finished with 10 points, five assists and three steals. "I ate some bad seafood last night and was up throwing up last night. I just can't wait to go to sleep, to be honest. I'm just glad the game's over and I'm glad we won."
Given a chance to make WNBA history Wednesday night, Lauren Jackson took care of business early. Needing only 12 points to become the league's 11th player with 3,000 points, Jackson reached the landmark with a free throw with 7:32 remaining in the second quarter. Playing in her 162nd WNBA game, the 25-year-old became the youngest and fastest to the 3,000-point mark.
"That's just another reflection of just how special Lauren is," said Donovan. "She's one of the best, if not the best player in this league, and how fast she gets to 3,000 is another good determination of that."
Jackson finished with a game-high 19 points.