SEATTLE — Lauren Jackson is getting closer to being back on the court for the Seattle Storm. She has returned after an extended stint in Australia with her national team and was even in her Seattle warm-up gear on the sidelines Tuesday night, but did not play.
The Storm certainly could have used her, though.
Seattle gave up 20 or more points to three different Minnesota players and were out-rebounded by 14 in an 86-73 loss to the Lynx, who hold the WNBA’s best record (18-4).
Seimone Augustus scored 22 points and Maya Moore and Rebekkah Brunson each added 20 to lead the way for Minnesota, but it was Monica Wright who seemed to set the tone. Wright, a Lynx reserve guard, made her first six shots and finished with 15 points as Minnesota built a big lead in the third quarter and, after losing it, built another in the fourth.
Wright’s second 3-pointer of the third quarter gave the Lynx their biggest lead at 17 points, but the Storm closed the quarter strong to cut the deficit to seven. Seattle opened the fourth quarter with a Tanisha Wright jumper that cut Minnesota’s lead to 69-64. But thanks to Moore, Brunson and Augustus, that’s as close as the Storm got in the game.
“I don’t think we guarded Augustus real well in that stretch,” Storm head coach Brian Agler said. “And I don’t think we got to Maya Moore a couple of times.”
Moore scored six, Augustus scored five and Brunson scored four in a 15-0 run by the Lynx that pushed their lead to 20.
Storm point guard Sue Bird returned after a bout with the flu that forced her to miss most of last week’s victory over Phoenix and all of Saturday’s loss to Los Angeles. Bird scored 17 points and dished four assists in Tuesday’s game.
The Storm played Minnesota with just eight players available again. Jackson didn’t play, forward Tina Thompson missed the game as she continues to recover from a knee injury and Ann Wauters was out again with an Achilles injury. The Storm have been shorthanded since early July, but Bird said the team can’t dwell on that.
“As an athlete and competitor and as a team really, you can’t think about who you don’t have,” Bird said. “You can only worry about who you do have. Am I looking forward to having three people play that didn’t play tonight? Absolutely.”
The Storm were led offensively by Camille Little, who scored 20 points and shot 7-for-11 from the field.
Despite the Storm’s second straight loss and falling two games under .500, Agler was upbeat. Perhaps it is because he knows he will soon have arguably the best women’s basketball player in the world back in the lineup.
“I thought we competed hard, and we did some good things,” Agler said. “I thought we were outnumbered in regards to depth, and I think Minnesota is a good basketball team. I also think that we’re a team that still has our best days ahead of us.”
Aaron Lommers covers the Seattle Storm for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at email@example.com.