Storm's home winning streak ends with 70-59 loss to Atlanta
The Storm got off to a slow start and never recovered Wednesday afternoon at KeyArena, losing to the Atlanta Dream.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Storm @ Phoenix Mercury, 7 p.m.
It seemed like one of those games perfect for the Storm's young players.
Only two more games until a leaguewide Olympic break. And Seattle was facing Atlanta, which is without two stars — Brazilian post player Erika de Souza (preparing for the Olympics) and Angel McCoughtry (knee injury).
But even the inspired play of rookies Shekinna Stricklen and Alysha Clark couldn't save the Storm from a 70-59 loss to the Dream in Wednesday afternoon at KeyArena. The loss, in front of a sellout crowd of 9,686, ended a five-game home winning streak for the Storm (8-10).
"This loss is disappointing because we had a great opportunity to be above .500 going into the break and now we've missed it," Storm guard Sue Bird said. "If we would have come out of the locker room and played a good game and lost, that's different. I really feel like we didn't perform and that makes this loss difficult to swallow."
The Storm didn't grab a rebound the first four minutes of the game and missed its first five shots as the Dream built an 8-0 lead. That was a stark contrast to Seattle's victory over Phoenix on Sunday, when Bird made her first nine shots in a 31-point performance.
The Storm couldn't get open on the perimeter against the Dream's backcourt defense and didn't have the size to challenge Atlanta (9-9) inside. The Storm played without veteran Tina Thompson, who suffered a strained left knee and ankle in Saturday's loss in Los Angeles. Center Ann Wauters didn't play due to strained left Achilles, her fourth game out of the rotation.
The void cleared a path for Atlanta's Sancho Lyttle to float to the hoop and score with finger rolls, and step back for three-pointers. Little, who scored a game-high 21 points, helped the Dream outscore the Storm 40-26 in the paint — the most Seattle has allowed inside this season.
"If you add the fact that Milli (Camille Little) had three fouls in the first quarter, we really had no post players aside from (Ewelina Kobryn)," Bird said. "That's tough on any team when you lose four people."
She said the Storm at times "was a little out of sorts, just not really on the same page offensively and defensively, and that's all of our faults."
The game was decided after Atlanta opened the second half on a 10-2 run. Stricklen, the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft, combined with Clark to score the last seven points of the third quarter to inch Seattle within 53-46.
Stricklen finished with season highs in points (16) and rebounds (nine), while Clark had a season-high seven points. Seattle's reserves outscored Atlanta's 26-2.
"I was feeling confident," Stricklen said. "The energy (of the team) was a little down and we got it going, but we got it going a little too late. ... It's tough. We want to keep our winning streak, but it's a long season. We have to go to Phoenix and get that game."
The Storm concludes the first half of the season at Phoenix on Friday. The WNBA will take a break for the Olympics beginning Saturday, with teams resuming practice Aug. 1. The Storm's first game after the break will be Aug. 16 against Phoenix at KeyArena.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter @JaydaEvans.
Dream 70, Storm 59
|Atlanta||18||18||17||17 — 70|
|Seattle||12||20||14||13 — 59|