8:00 PM ET, September 8, 2012
The Seattle Storm own nine straight victories over the Tulsa Shock. None were as impressive as the one earlier this week.The visiting Storm are closing in on a ninth consecutive playoff spot as they try to complete a season sweep of the Shock on Saturday night.Seattle (12-14) entered this home-and-home set with Tulsa (6-21) having dropped four of five, but put together a record-setting performance in Thursday's 101-74 home victory. The Storm's 29 assists and 59.7 field-goal percentage were the best in franchise history, and their 14 3-pointers tied a club mark in their most lopsided win of the season.The assist record was set despite none from star guard Sue Bird, who ranks among the league leaders in that department with 5.3 per game. Camille Little and Tanisha Wright, who combine to average 6.3 assists, picked up the slack by totaling 15."They did a good job of keeping the ball out of her hands," coach Brian Agler said. "But we had other people who did a good job of finding people like Camille and Tanisha. They did an exceptional job."Three-time league MVP Lauren Jackson had a game-high 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting while playing less than 15 minutes. The Australian star averaged 8.7 points on 26.1 percent shooting in her first three games this season after joining the Storm following the London Olympics."They got LJ back in her groove," Tulsa coach Gary Kloppenburg said. "We just had no answer for her."Agler and his players credited an intense week of practice since the Storm's previous game, a 75-68 loss at Phoenix on Aug. 30."We did a lot of scrimmaging," Jackson said. "Just everybody getting used to playing with each other again. Some of the passes tonight were unbelievable."Ivory Latta led Tulsa with 18 points, rookie Riquna Williams scored 17 and Glory Johnson added 15 as the Shock fell to 1-12 on the road.Tulsa has won its last two home games but knows it must make some major adjustments to continue that streak."There were a lot of breakdowns that you can't have against a high-level team like that," Kloppenburg said. "Hopefully we can take a look at the video and regroup because we got them again in about 48 hours."Jackson's return has taken the pressure off Bird, who finished with 11 points Thursday. Bird averaged 24.0 points on 66.7 percent shooting in the first two victories over Tulsa this season without Jackson.Another fast-paced, up-and-down game could be on tap after these teams combined Thursday to make 27 3-pointers, the most in WNBA history.With eight games left, the Storm are seeking to avoid their first losing campaign since going 10-22 in their second season in 2001.