Storm to get taste of life without Lauren Jackson
Seattle would like to reverse the outcome of a WNBA loss to Minnesota on June 9, but must do it without the Storm's injured league MVP.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Minnesota Lynx @ Storm, 7 p.m., KONG
The only sighting of a uniformed Lauren Jackson on Friday night will be the Storm's giveaway bobblehead doll of the three-time MVP. The real version, healing a strained left hip, will be on the bench for her team's WNBA game against Minnesota at KeyArena.
Jackson underwent two days of tests on the injury and is listed as day to day.
She was injured in the first half of the Storm's win at Tulsa on Tuesday. The 6-foot-6 center said she locked legs with fellow Australian Liz Cambage of the Shock, who is 6-8. Neither fell to the floor, but Jackson said she felt "a pop" and was removed from the game with 5:50 remaining in the second quarter.
Jackson said she had a cortisone shot in the hip area last week to relieve pain. She didn't want to speculate on the severity of the injury.
Storm coach Brian Agler will start forward Le'coe Willingham in place of Jackson. Willingham (6 feet) gives the Storm (3-2) a smaller lineup against the Lynx (5-1) in a rematch of Seattle's 81-74 loss to Minnesota at KeyArena on June 9 — Seattle's worst game of the season.
"Unfortunately, we've been here before and we have to bring some toughness to the game, but Le'coe and I are tough enough and we can get it done," said Storm forward Camille Little, whose team is 17-23 all-time without Jackson in the lineup.
"It's a game where we need to play well for us, period, regardless of who is coming in. We need to have some consistency. We got a win in Tulsa, now let's build on that. We know it's going to be a big game, they're playing with confidence and it happens to be the team that blew us out. But we want to play well."
Minnesota pounced on Seattle early in the teams' first meeting, leading 22-0 before Jackson hit a fadeaway jumper seven minutes into the game.
Agler said he had an ominous feeling from the opening tip, when Storm All-Star Swin Cash stumbled attempting to gather a loose ball from rookie Maya Moore of the Lynx. Moore then made a flashy drive and scored over Cash nine seconds into the game.
The Storm rallied in the second half to lose by only seven, but the victory gave the young Lynx plenty of confidence as Minnesota won on the defending champions' floor for the first time since 2005.
The defeat snapped Seattle's 18-game game regular-season win streak at KeyArena.
"It's an anticipated rematch because they came in here and embarrassed us," said Cash. "This is a game we need to win. For us, coming home, we need to get back on track and people need to understand that it's hard to win at the Key."
The Lynx are the early talk of the WNBA, having won five consecutive games. But Minnesota has had great starts in the past, starting the 2008 season at 6-1, but still has not reached the postseason since 2004, when it was swept by the Storm in the first round.
Minnesota is led by the inside-out combo of forward Rebekkah Brunson, an early favorite for the MVP award, and guard Seimone Augustus. Brunson leads the league in double-doubles, averaging 14.5 points and 13.3 rebounds. Augustus averages 15.3 points on 48.6-percent shooting. Moore, the top pick in the 2011 draft, averages 13.8 points.
"Without Lauren, we won't have that size. But now it's an opportunity for 'Coe, 'Mille and Ash (Ashley Robinson) to really step-up and do what they need to do," Cash said. "I'm sure I'll swing and play some (power forward). Collectively as a team, we ignite around adversity. We rally and we know we have to get the job done."
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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