SEATTLE — It’s one thing to be a part of a prestigious club. It’s another thing to create your own.
That’s exactly what forward Tina Thompson did in Tuesday’s 75-60 victory over the Chicago Sky.
Thompson, already the all-time leading scorer in WNBA history, scored 10 points, but none bigger than her baseline-jumper with 9:03 remaining in the second quarter giving her 7,000 points for her career. Thompson is the first player in league history to reach that milestone.
After the game, Thompson was interviewed in front of the KeyArena crowd of 6,459 and was coy about her accomplishment.
“I’m really not an accolade person,” she said. “Unless it involves a really big trophy and rings to match.”
Before the Storm can think about a championship, first they need to get everybody healthy and they were much closer on Monday then they had been in some time. Point guard Sue Bird returned to the lineup after missing three straight games and Alysha Clark returned after missing the Storm’s previous game with the flu.
“It was definitely a difference having Sue back,” Thompson said. “She’s our point guard and she basically kind of knows everybody inside and out and it just kind of helps with our flow. Even in the other games I think Katie and Tanisha did a great job of filling in for Sue, but they’re not my point guard. So it definitely throws you off a little.”
Noticeably still missing for Seattle was Lauren Jackson, who missed her third straight game with a hamstring injury. Jackson did say after the game that she will play on Friday when the team hosts San Antonio.
Without Jackson, the Storm came out firing in the first quarter, shooting 66.7 percent from the field and jumping out to a 26-13 lead after one. They picked up where they left off in the second quarter and took a 46-28 lead into the locker room.
“We never quite recovered from the first swing Seattle threw,” Sky head coach Pokey Chatman said. “I think they shot 57 percent in the first half and we never quite recovered from that. I felt we got good looks, but they didn’t go down.”
The game was a missed opportunity for the Sky, who after New York’s loss to San Antonio, had a chance to move into a tie with Liberty for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Instead, it was the Storm who played like a playoff spot was on the line. Seattle took advantage of the absence of Chicago center Sylvia Fowles, who missed the game with an injury, and exploited the Sky’s lack of depth inside. Ann Wauters shot 7-for-11 from the field and led the Storm with 16 points and Ewelina Kobryn wasn’t far behind, scoring 12.
“I thought all of our post players played well,” Storm head coach Brian Agler said. “I thought our team had a great effort. We turned it over a little bit too often, but I like the way we defended and we played with a purpose at the offensive end.”
Another bright spot for the Storm offensively was guard Katie Smith, who scored 13 points and shot 4-for-6 from the field. At 38 years old, Smith is the oldest player on the Storm roster, but was forced to play the most minutes on Tuesday due to lingering injuries of several other players.
“We had people playing extended minutes,” Agler said. “Like Katie played a lot of minutes because we wanted to not wear the tread off of T (Tanisha Wright) and Sue’s tires.”
The game also marked the return of a couple of Chicago players with Seattle ties. Point guard Courtney Vandersloot, a Kent native who went to college at Gonzaga, made her second professional appearance at KeyArena scoring six points and Swin Cash made her first WNBA appearance back in Seattle since being traded to Chicago by the Storm in the offseason. Cash, who spent four seasons with the Storm and helped deliver a championship in 2010, scored six points and grabbed seven rebounds in her return.
“It was cool — the introductions and to see the fans,” Cash said of her return. “But once the ball goes up, it’s game time. I appreciate the fans in Seattle and I wish them well.”
Aaron Lommers covers the Seattle Storm for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at email@example.com.