Temeka Johnson triple-double not enough as Storm drops season-high fourth straight, 84-80
Temeka Johnson, filling in for an injured Sue Bird, gets 13 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for the Storm’s first-ever triple-double, but the Liberty prevails in overtime.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Temeka Johnson didn’t know what to think.
The point guard sat in her corner of the Storm’s locker room looking down at the final stat sheet of Seattle’s matchup against New York. Her stat line displayed Seattle’s first triple-double in the franchise’s 15-year history.
But her points, assists and rebounds were not enough as Seattle fell, 84-80, in overtime to New York on Thursday at KeyArena. The Liberty (10-13) won its third straight game while the Storm is dropped its season-worst fourth straight game.
“Us closing out the game would’ve been a better thing for me,” said Johnson, who finished with 13 points, a season-high 11 assists and a career-high 10 rebounds.
“But I’m not going to downplay it,” she continued. “It’s not something that everybody does on an everyday basis. It’s a great accomplishment, I’m probably the smallest person in basketball history that’s ever done it.”
Johnson, who’s 5 feet 3, is the shortest player in WNBA history to reach the feat. She joins the late Margo Dydek, a 7-2 center, Lisa Leslie, who’s 6-5, and guards Sheryl Swoopes and Deanna Nolan as the only league players to record triple-doubles.
New York All-Star Tina Charles tarnished the impressive stat line, however, muscling a putback in the hoop with 23 seconds left in overtime to put the Liberty ahead for good.
Storm starters Tanisha Wright and Crystal Langhorne missed shots in the key in the final 12.9 seconds of overtime that could have forced a second overtime. Liberty All-Star Cappie Pondexter made a layin with 1.8 seconds on the clock to cushion the lead.
“That’s what Tina does,” said Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer of Charles’ bucket. She had 18 points and 14 rebounds in the game.
Seattle (9-17) had its chances to close out the game in regulation. The Storm led by as many as nine, 54-45, with 6:46 remaining in the third quarter. But both teams shot below 30 percent in the fourth quarter to prevent either team from taking control.
Out of a timeout in the fourth quarter, Pondexter nailed a 16-foot jumper off a feed from guard Sugar Rodgers to tie the score at 75 with 11.9 left in regulation.
Storm forward Camille Little’s open jumper brushed the front of the rim with 3.9 seconds on the clock, missing a chance for a game-winner. Pondexter missed an opportunity of her own, forcing overtime.
After only playing six minutes in a loss to Phoenix on Tuesday, Johnson made the start against New York due to Sue Bird being out with a strained neck. Bird, who originally suffered the pain early in her career, said she just woke up wrong and couldn’t loosen the muscle.
It was Johnson’s third start of the season, though she started in place of Bird all last year.
Bird is questionable to start against Los Angeles on Saturday at KeyArena.
“We had a lot of people play well, and (Temeka) was one of them,” Storm coach Brian Agler said. “It’s hard (to lose close games), but that’s part of being mentally tough.”