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Storm's defense sets the tone for its offense

Hot first quarter key in 78-64 win over San Antonio

  • Seattle's Sue Bird (right) is defended by San Antonio's Tully Bevilaqua in the Storm's 78-64 victory over the Silver Stars on Tuesday night. Bird scor...

    Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

    Seattle's Sue Bird (right) is defended by San Antonio's Tully Bevilaqua in the Storm's 78-64 victory over the Silver Stars on Tuesday night. Bird scored a game-high 17 points.

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  • Seattle's Sue Bird (right) is defended by San Antonio's Tully Bevilaqua in the Storm's 78-64 victory over the Silver Stars on Tuesday night. Bird scor...

    Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

    Seattle's Sue Bird (right) is defended by San Antonio's Tully Bevilaqua in the Storm's 78-64 victory over the Silver Stars on Tuesday night. Bird scored a game-high 17 points.

SEATTLE -- If only the Seattle Storm shot all the time like they did in the first 10 minutes of their 78-64 victory over the San Antonio Silver Stars on Tuesday.
The Storm made 14 of their first 15 shots and finished 14-for-17 in the first quarter while taking a 31-19. The key to that blistering offense? The defense, point guard Sue Bird said.
"I think what you saw in beginning was us kind of playing off our defense," Bird said. "I know you've heard that a lot this season, but it's really what makes us such a good team."
The Storm's 31 first-quarter points were a season-high. Their previous high was 23.
"Excellent. I don't know what we were, but I know we were shooting at a pretty high percentage," Storm head coach Brian Agler said. "And then things settled back in. But San Antonio's a good team you know, they didn't give up."
For how good the Storm were in the first quarter, many teams would have just rolled over and gone away. Not the Silver Stars.
San Antonio (11-7) is the No.2 seed in the Western Conference and they didn't get to that point by rolling over. The Silver Stars gradually cut down the Storm lead over the next two periods, finally paring an 18-point lead to just one in the final minutes of the third quarter.
"I think it was good for us to get off to that start," Bird said. "We definitely needed it because they made a push there."
Bird made a 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds remaining in the third quarter to push the lead back up to eight. She took possession of the ball off a missed Jayne Appel free throw with seven seconds left, quickly drove up the court and delivered the game-changer.
"We knew there was seven seconds, and we actually had a play designed for Katie (Smith)," Bird said. "You figure that people are going to make their free throws, but because it came off and missed and I was able to come down with numbers, you know at that point seven seconds you just have to see what they give you.
"I kind of had a feeling if I accelerated a bit she (Appel) would back up. ... I am probably not going to be able to shoot over her underneath the basket area, but I can definitely step back and shoot the 3, so I was looking to do that," Bird said. "Even if I got by her, she could still make a play because she is like 8,000 inches taller."
Smith was another bright spot for the Storm. She struggled from the field early in the season, but has started to come on lately. Tuesday, she went 4-for-6 from the field and scored 10 points off the bench.
But Bird was the offensive leader again for the Storm, as she has had to be so many times this season in the absence of the 2010 WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson. Bird scored a game-high 17 points and dished five assists. Swin Cash added 16 points and nine rebounds and Tanisha Wright had 12 points and seven assists.
Wright hit some timely shots for the Storm, but perhaps even more important was her defense on San Antonio's Becky Hammon. Wright held Hammon to just 11 points. Hammon shot a high percentage, making five of her seven shots, but her amount of looks at the basket were greatly diminished because of Wright.
"Obviously Tanisha has done a great job, and guards her quite a bit," Agler said. "But you know our defense is sort of team-oriented, so it takes a lot of teamwork. (Hammon's) a tough defend. She moves well without the ball, she is obviously very deceptive with the ball. I have coached her, I know."
Scholanda Robinson scored 12 points to lead the Silver Stars, Sophia Young and Jia Perkins each added 10.
The Silver Stars were without rookie phenom Danielle Adams, who is out four-to-six weeks with a mid-foot sprain in her right foot.
Extension for Jackson
Lauren Jackson may not be on the floor right now for the Seattle Storm as she recovers from hip surgery, but the team's announcement that she has signed a multi-year contract extension ensures that she will be in a Storm uniform for quite some time.
Storm Head Coach and Director of Player Personnel Brian Agler announced the deal on Tuesday. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
"Clearly, Lauren Jackson is one of, if not the best player in the world," Agler said. "She has been and will continue to be a critical part of the success of our basketball team. We want to keep her here in Seattle for a long time."
Jackson was excited, as were the fans judging by the reception she got from the KeyArena crowd when the deal was announced before Tuesday night's game.
"I'm excited about it," Jackson said earlier in the day. "Seattle is like my home. It's good to be able to continue my career here and pursue more championships."
Jackson is a seven-time all-star selection, three-time league MVP and two-time WNBA champion.
Aaron Lommers covers the Seattle Storm for The Herald. Read his blog at www.heraldnet.com/storm and follow him on twitter @aaronlommers.
Story tags » Seattle Storm

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