For all of the inconsistencies the Storm have shown this season, none of them were on display in a 73-55 victory over the San Antonio Silver Stars at KeyArena.
Everything was clicking, the offense had balance and the defense held the Silver Stars to 27.7 percent shooting. The whole team never let up, putting an end to the Storm's three-game losing streak.
The positives from the victory were endless. There was Tanisha Wright's team-leading 17 points, 13 of which came in the second half. There was Katie Smith shooting above 50 percent and scoring eight points. Every Storm player who saw action found the scorebook.
"That's the kind of basketball that we want to play right there," Wright said. "I don't know any way else to put it. That's the kind of basketball that we want to play, that we need to play, in order to be successful that we have to play."
The victory came just one week after the Storm lost 69-66 in San Antonio. In that game, rookie Danielle Adams scored 23 points, tonight she scored just one.
"We didn't play as well as we would have liked down there. They played well down there, so this was an important game for us," Storm head coach Brian Agler said.
The Storm certainly played like it was important, shooting 27-for-55 (49.1 percent) from the field.
The production of Wright, Smith and others took some of the pressure off of point guard Sue Bird.
Coming into Thursday's game, Bird led the Storm with a 16.3 points per game average, including a season-high 26 in Tuesday's loss in Chicago.
Tonight, Bird scored just two points on 1-for-4 shooting, but she got back to something she does even better. Thursday, she was a pass first point guard, dishing out seven assists to lead the team. She found teammates like Camille Little and Le'coe Willingham on textbook pick-and-rolls for easy Storm baskets. Had Bird not sat out much of the second half because the Storm had the game well in hand, her assist total would no doubt have been higher.
Perhaps she would have found more of Ashley Robinson, who was on the receiving end of a few Bird assists in the first half. Robinson started her second straight game at center, grabbing nine rebounds and scoring six points.
"Ashley is a tremendous athlete and she has been playing with us now for four years and she is becoming a little bit of a presence," Agler said. "She has always been a little bit of a presence defensively, but now you have to guard her, because she'll score."
Robinson earned the player of the game interview in front of the KeyArena crowd of 6,922 after the game.
"I just feel like I am making my money this year," Robinson told the crowd.
The second quarter was key for the Storm, outscoring the Silver Stars 19-8 and building a 38-22 halftime advantage. Willingham scored six of her seven points in the second quarter as the Storm made an effort to attack more inside.
"That was something that we wanted to focus on is to get some inside touches and allow our post players to get the ball inside and go to work," Wright said. "Le'coe really took advantage of that today.
The Storm picked up where they left off in the third quarter, starting the half on an 8-0 run.
"It started with Tanisha," Bird said. "She got those quick steals and we were able to score off of them. Our 14 point lead turned into 20 and we were feeling good and just rode it out from there."
The victory was much needed for the Storm after their disappointing road-trip, and ensured that they would go into this weekend's All-Star break with a winning record.
Wright was asked if Thursday's game was a must-win.
"Oh for sure, going into the break wanting to be better than .500, wanting to go into the break on a good note after a three-game skid, it always feels good," Wright said. "It was definitely something that we emphasized, that we needed to come in and take this game."
The All-Star break is much needed for some of the Storm players, but Wright was asked just how much rest the Storm players would get.
"Well today is Thursday, that means Friday, Saturday, that's two days off, that's always rest," Wright joked. "We do this as a living, 365 (days a year), so being able to take a break, even if it is a couple of days."
And when Wright says "taking a break" she means it.
"I won't touch a basketball," she said.
But for Agler, Bird and Cash, this weekend won't be much of a break. Cash and Bird are starting for the Western Conference all-stars, and Agler is the head coach.
"They are mentally tough, they went to UConn they'll be fine," Wright joked of Bird and Cash.
Storm waive Krystal Thomas
After the game, the Storm waived forward Krystal Thomas. Thomas was a third-round selection in the 2011 WNBA Draft from Duke. Thomas had seen very little action for the Storm so far this season.
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