Storm falls 80-71 to Washington Mystics
Brian Agler oulled All-Stars Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird in the final four minutes of a 80-71 loss at the Verizon Center. The win, combined with Connecticut's loss to Indiana, clinched the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference for the Mystics (19-12).
Seattle Times staff reporter
Lynx @ Storm, 7 p.m.
WASHINGTON — Washington fans stood cheering for their Mystics at the end of Sunday's game. And if they'd had rose petals, they would have thrown them at the feet of the Storm.
A small gesture to say thanks to Seattle coach Brian Agler for altering his players' minutes, pulling All-Stars Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird in the final three minutes of a 80-71 loss at the Verizon Center. The win, combined with Connecticut's loss to Indiana, clinched the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference for the Mystics (19-12).
Washington, which also set a franchise high for victories in a season, desperately needed the win because if it was tied with Connecticut at season's end, the Sun would have advanced since it won the regular-season series.
"Getting into the playoffs is a big deal," said Mystics guard Katie Smith. "Obviously, homecourt advantage would be really nice. The bottom line is, you get in. I'm excited about it and (want to) finish this thing strong."
Meanwhile, Storm players discovered it's not easy to flick the competitive switch back on after resting. Jackson played 25 minutes after missing Friday's game, a 20-point loss to Connecticut in which the starters didn't play more than six minutes.
"This was good for us to get extended minutes for some people and sort of get back into the swing," said Agler, whose team went 1-2 on its three-game, eight-day trip. "There were some good stretches of basketball, which I was happy to see. But we've got to finish layups, get better defensively and get our mentality back. You don't do that overnight."
It's good Agler began getting them ready against Washington. The Mystics played with the type of aggression and passion from the opening tip that the Storm will see in the postseason.
Seattle led 36-32 at halftime, but Washington began taking control in the third quarter. The Mystics forced the Storm into eight turnovers and outscored the visitors 27-17 in the quarter.
Seattle pulled within 65-61 with 5:56 left in the game after two free throws by forward Swin Cash. But Washington forward Monique Currie immediately nailed a three-pointer, and after an 18-foot jumper from Smith stretched Washington's lead to 72-65, Agler began pulling players.
Currie finished with a game-high 25 points, hitting 5 of 7 three-point tries.
Cash played a team-high 32 minutes, not wanting to rest with the postseason looming.
"I'm not one to think you can keep turning it off and on," said Cash, who led Seattle with 15 points. "I'm hoping right now that we kind of got a clear picture on how physical the playoffs are going to be. That's what we're gearing up for, and every single player on this team needs to start playing like that."
Seattle, which lost back-to-back road games for the second time this season, returns to KeyArena to face Minnesota on Tuesday. The Storm's level of play should get a boost because the Lynx defeated the Storm 72-71 this month in Minneapolis, and Seattle has a 15-game win streak at home.
"It's been a balancing act and I can honestly say for myself, not playing minutes that I'd normally play, I can definitely tell a difference," said Bird, who finished with 12 points and seven assists. "I feel a lot better. We have three games remaining and I'm pretty sure we're going to be all out for those games. So, hopefully this rest now will pay dividends in the end."
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or email@example.com
|Seattle||17||19||17||18 — 71|
|Washington||20||12||27||21 — 80|
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.