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Originally published August 3, 2013 at 2:06 PM | Page modified August 3, 2013 at 9:33 PM

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Storm faces a big test against WNBA-best Lynx

Seattle enters a key road swing that also features a game against the Mercury, the team just ahead of the Storm in the Western Conference.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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FYI: http://www.wnba.com/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Lynx ... MORE

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In the Storm’s staccato season, there’s an odd constant — it has been able to beat the top teams in the league.

The Storm won at Chicago and at Los Angeles and defeated Atlanta at home – three of the top four teams in the WNBA. Another test comes Sunday when Seattle plays at Minnesota, the overall leader in the league.

The Lynx (15-3) are on a WNBA-best eight-game win streak and are undefeated at the Target Center (9-0).

“Trying to achieve greatness, like this team does, they make it look easy,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve told reporters after her team’s 85-63 home win against San Antonio on Friday. “But it’s a lot of work.’’

Seattle (8-10) hasn’t won in Minnesota since 2010. The five-game road losing streak is the Storm’s longest against a Western Conference opponent.

It’s a matchup that historically spotlights point guards. This season isn’t different, despite the Storm being without Sue Bird.

Lynx point guard Lindsay Whalen is playing more aggressively on defense, which has helped get her team moving early with buckets in transition. She’s averaging 16 points and 5.5 assists.

Storm point guard Temeka Johnson appears to be finding her shot. She’s averaging 10.7 points and 4.4 assists.

But Whalen has the stronger supporting cast in fellow Olympians Maya Moore (16.4 points) and Seimone Augustus (14.9 points), and All-Star Rebekkah Brunson (10 points, 9.2 rebounds).

Seattle rookie Tianna Hawkins is beginning to contribute and give the Storm more versatility. She scored seven points in a pivotal second quarter as the Storm defeated the Mercury 88-79 on Thursday.

“She’s actually soaking up everything that’s being said, and, most of all, just playing,” Johnson said. “That’s the one thing you have to remember when you get here. She (may have) watched all of these people play as a young child, but at the end of the day, it’s just basketball.”

But shooting guard Shekinna Stricklen is still struggling and the Storm lacked depth in the post after center Nakia Sanford left, unhappy with her seven-day contract. Agler signed Jasmine Hassell on Saturday to a seven-day contract to replace Sanford.

Hassell, a 6-foot-2 forward, was a second-round pick by Indiana in April’s draft. She averaged 1.8 points and 8.2 minutes in 12 games for the Fever.

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