Bird's shooting lifts Storm to win
Sue Bird scored 21 points and Katie Smith added 17 as the Seattle Storm beat the winless Tulsa Shock 86-73 Friday night to snap a four-game losing streak.
Special to The Seattle Times
TULSA, Okla. — Seattle's Sue Bird has turned in some of her best games against Tulsa.
Seattle's veteran point guard came up with yet another standout performance Friday night against the Shock. And she couldn't have done so at a more opportune time for the struggling Storm.
Bird hit her first nine shots from the floor on the way to pouring in a game-high 21 points to fuel Seattle to an 86-73 victory Friday night at the BOK Center.
The victory snapped a four-game losing streak for Seattle (2-7) in the finale of a five-game road trip.
"I think we are better than a 1-7 team," said Bird, who finished 9 of 12 from the floor while also grabbing a team-high seven rebounds and dishing out four assists in 32 minutes.
"We know it is a big road ahead. Tonight is just one game. Being 1-7, every game from now on is important."
Bird, who had 27 points in Seattle's 76-58 victory against Tulsa on June 1 and 21 points in her last visit to Tulsa on Sept. 2, 2011, led four Storm players in double figures.
Katie Smith added 17 points, Tina Thompson 16 and Shekinna Stricklen 12 for Seattle, which connected on 29 of 53 field-goal attempts (54.7 percent).
Smith was also 3 of 7 from three-point range, while Thompson hit on all four of her shots from beyond the arc. Seattle, the WNBA leader in three-pointers made and attempted, connected on 12 of 27 from long distance.
Bird hit all six of her shots from the floor in tallying 14 first-half points and did not miss her first field-goal attempt until less than a minute remained in the third quarter. By that time, she had 21 points and Seattle had taken a 72-61 lead.
The breakout night for Bird came after she combined for just 13 points on 4-of-22 shooting in Seattle's last two losses.
"Obviously, as a shooter, sometimes the shots don't go in," Bird said. "But you can't get frustrated. You know the shots will eventually have to fall."
Leading by 10 points at halftime, Bird nailed a three-pointer and had an assist on a fast-break layup by Smith as Seattle moved in front 58-43.
"Sue was on spot tonight," Seattle coach Brian Agler said. "She has had two really good games against Tulsa this season."
Seattle's defense came to the forefront in the final quarter, allowing Tulsa (0-9) only one point in the first seven minutes as the Storm opened up its biggest lead, 79-62, with 5:15 left.
"Our team is improving," Agler said. "We have been on the incline the last couple of weeks. We just didn't have any W's to show for it. I think our team's understanding of our defensive system has improved. We have learned how to make that extra pass, how to be more efficient on offense and how to get to the free-throw line."
|Seattle||21||32||19||14 — 86|
|Tulsa||18||25||18||12 — 73|