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Storm's 5-game win streak snapped
Seattle Storm loses 77-59 to the New York Liberty, snapping a five-game winning streak.
Special to The Seattle Times
NEWARK — In the temporary home of the New York Liberty, a team displaced for three summers by Madison Square Garden renovations, the Storm totally misplaced the game that had produced five straight wins.
Thus two hours of aimless searching for itself during a 77-59 defeat became another 25 minutes of team soul-searching before the media was admitted to the locker room, then turned into a three-plus-hour bus ride to Uncasville, Conn., that figured to be as long as the players' faces.
"We had a little discussion and talked about what was important if we were going to play well," said coach Brian Agler. "Teams need to be reminded of that."
So it appeared after two tedious hours of forgetting the location of the basket, in addition to how to take care of the ball. On Saturday, 32 percent shooting and 24 turnovers were not survivable even against a 5-9 Liberty team that suffered the loss of center Kia Vaughn with a second-quarter concussion. New York rolled behind 22 points by Essence Carson and 20 by Cappie Pondexter, most from an open floor that became an open wound for Seattle.
"Once we sort of got going offensively (with 25 points) in the third quarter, I thought if we could get some stops, we could get ourselves back into the game," said Agler. "And just when we started playing better offensively, the defense started breaking down.
"I thought we were past the point of having 25 turnovers. We had gone from having the most in the league the first couple of games of the year to being in the middle of the pack, so 25 turnovers is the most disappointing thing. That, and our defense not being active, rotating like we are capable of."
Sue Bird made two three-pointers in the first 4:06, another just before the half, and then no more. Katie Smith made one trey and that was it, the Storm's 4 for 22 from behind the arc strangling the life out of whatever opportunity Seattle might have had to come back. Even down only eight early in the fourth quarter, never was there a sense the Storm was making a run.
"We turned the ball over way too much," said Bird. "It's bad for any team, but specifically for us, because if we get our defense set we are a better team.
"They were able to get out in transition and get easy buckets. We hadn't seen this for a while, the way we had been playing. So it's definitely disappointing."
Ann Wauters and Tanisha Wright had five turnovers apiece to help waste 89 percent free-throw shooting and the season debut of Svetlana Abrosimova. She missed badly in her one shot in 5:45 of playing time, which was 5:45 more than she thought she would get after not playing in a game in two months.
As for the postgame meeting, when asked whether the coach had done the talking or the players, Bird said, "A little of both," choosing to let it go at that, sort of like the Storm on a bad day.
"In this league teams go up and down," Agler said with a shrug. "I think most people think we're still one of the better teams in the league. The Liberty is better than its record.
"After something like this, coaches want to practice, players want to redeem themselves. I'll let you know after tomorrow what would be best for us."
Percentages: FG .322, FT .895. Three-point goals: 4-22, .182 (Bird 3-9, Smith 1-3, Abrosimova 0-1, Wauters 0-1, Kobryn 0-2, Stricklen 0-3, Thompson 0-3). Team rebounds: 9. Team turnovers: 25 (20 PTS). Blocked shots: 2 (Little, Wauters). Turnovers: 24 (Wauters 5, Wright 5, Bird 3, Little 3, Abrosimova 2, Kobryn 2, Smith 2, Clark, Thompson). Steals: 6 (Bird 2, Kobryn, Little, Smith, Wright). Technical fouls: Coach Agler, 8:45 second.
Percentages: FG .429, FT .800. Three-point goals: 3-17, .176 (Pondexter 2-6, Montgomery 1-1, Carson 0-3, Powell 0-3, Mitchell 0-4). Team rebounds: 12. Team turnovers: 17 (9 PTS). Blocked shots: 1 (Braxton). Turnovers: 16 (Walker 4, Braxton 3, Pondexter 3, Mitchell 2, Powell 2, Vaughn 2). Steals: 12 (Powell 4, Pondexter 3, Braxton, Carson, Mitchell, Montgomery, Walker). Technical fouls: None.
|Seattle||12||11||25||11 — 59|
|New York||13||18||25||21 — 77|
Attendance: 6,724 (18,500). Time: 2:00. Officials: Sue Blauch, Cameron Inouye, Billy Smith.