Seattle, Wash. – On a night when the franchise honored one of its legends, the Seattle Storm played like one of the championship contenders that Lauren Jackson anchored.
Four Storm players finished in double-figures, with Jewell Loyd’s 26 leading the charge, as Seattle never trailed in a 80-51 victory over the Mystics.
The sellout crowd of 9,686 was treated to what was comfortably Seattle’s largest margin of victory of the year — the previous high was 17 over the Sun on June 24 — before Lauren Jackson’s No. 15 was unveiled in the Key Arena rafters.
“A good mood setter, perhaps,” said Sue Bird of the win before the festivities. “The icing on the cake.”
Seattle (8-13) scored seven of the game’s first nine points, with a Breanna Stewart three-pointer on the first possession giving the Storm the lead just 13 seconds in, as all five starters scored before the first timeout. Seattle made six of its first seven shots from the field.
Washington (9-13) was unable to get anything going on the offensive end, shooting just 26 percent from in the first half as Seattle extended its lead to 18 by the break. But Washington fared little better in the final 20 minutes, ending the game at just 29 percent, their worst performance of the year. The Mystics also went to the line just seven times, making five free throws.
With time winding down in the third quarter, Seattle’s duo of back-to-back No. 1 picks brought the Storm Crazies to their feet with perhaps their most impressive sequence of the season. Loyd stepped in front of a pass and took it the other way, with Stewart charging down the other end.
On a 2-1 fastbreak, the Notre Dame grad lobbed it to the UConn product, who tipped it back to Loyd for the running alley-oop.
Of course, that was the second time the pair have connected on end-to-end oops this year.
While Loyd’s 26 points (14 in the first quarter) led the way, Seattle’s other first-round pick from 2015 provided the bulk of the Storm’s bench scoring. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis finished with a season-high 12 points, all from beyond the arc. Bird also had 12, while Stewart’s 10 put her in double-figures for the 19th time in 21 games.
With the victory, Seattle moved to just a half-game behind the Mystics — which have now lost five straight — the Mercury, and the Wings for seventh place in the WNBA playoff race.
Boucek said Friday’s atmosphere felt like, “the good ol’ days.”
“We wanted to enjoy this crowd, and show them the new brand of basketball that’s still has she and Sue all over it,” she said. “It’s a style that they both thrived in, and we have similar players that are enjoying that.”
And the way her team played, she said, was at least partially a result of what Jackson brings with her presence.
“Everybody’s shoulders go back,” she said. “It used to be like that when she used to come back late from overseas. As soon as she would come back, everybody involved in our organization, shoulders would go back, they would get a little bit more of an edge, a little bit more of a swagger. And when she was healthy, we all knew we had a chance to win a championship. Without being able to play, she still had a similar affect on tonight on our team. She just carries herself with that type of presence.”
Jackson, meanwhile, kept it simple when asked what she thought of the current version of the team that put up a 29-point victory in her honor.
“They’re great,” Jackson said. “Really good. I think they’ve got a lot of potential, and they’ve got a lot of talent.”
Seattle is back at Key Arena on Sunday to face the Chicago Sky at 4 p.m.
- Friday was the Storm’s second sellout of the year (first was Opening Night).
- Monica Wright (who turned 28 on Friday) did not play for the fourth straight game, and the sixth time in the last seven match ups. She was the lone DNP for the Storm.
- All 11 players saw the court for Washington.
- Seattle shot 47 percent from the field on the night.
- Points in the Paint: Seattle 34, Washington 14
- Second Chance Points: Seattle 17, Washington 13
- Fast Break Points: Seattle 12, Washington 4
- Seattle is now 1-0 on nights when they retire Lauren Jackson’s jersey.