SEATTLE — It appears Sue Bird wants another player-of-the-week award.
One day after being named the WNBA’s Western Conference Player of the Week, Bird scored 22 points, shooting 8-for-14 from the field, to lead the Seattle Storm to a 79-71 victory over the Washington Mystics on Tuesday afternoon.
For the box score, click here.
Bird started out by knocking down her first three shots and added a couple free throws to help the Storm jump to a 17-7 advantage. She was the catalyst for an aggressive start by Seattle, which led 23-16 at the end of the first quarter.
But the Mystics didn’t back down.
They outscored the Storm 21-20 in the second quarter and Seattle went into the locker room with a 43-37 advantage.
In the Storm’s previous game, Sunday against the Los Angeles Sparks, Seattle used a dominating third-quarter run to put L.A. away. It appeared the Storm would do the same Tuesday, opening the quarter with a 6-0 blitz that put them ahead 49-37.
But again, the Mystics responded, led by some sharp shooting from beyond the 3-point line. Washington made four 3-pointers in the third quarter to stay within striking distance. Through three periods, the Mystics shot a blistering 9-for-14 from beyond the arc.
“It was one of those games where we played a team that was not backing down, not letting up,” Bird said. “Every time we kind of got a little bit of a cushion, they came right back. It was a tough game, but a great win for us.”
Inconsistent offense has been a problem for the Storm this season, but against the Mystics, it was the defense that faltered. Washington shot 51 percent from the field through three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, however, the Storm tightened up its defense, holding the Mystics to just 14 points to close out their fifth win in six games at home this season in front of a KeyArena crowd of 13,384 on hand for Kids’ Day.
Fittingly, it was Bird who iced the game with a breakaway layup, assisted on a near full-court pass by Katie Smith.
“I think tonight was a great team win, everybody at some point stepped up and made a big play,” said Bird, who recorded her fourth 20-point game of the season. “Whoever gets the points gets the points. T (Tanisha Wright) got some assists tonight, leading in assists, so that was good to see.”
Wright topped the Storm with seven assists, a category in which Bird, the Storm’s point guard, seldom finishes second to a teammate. Asked if she was a little jealous of Wright, Bird smiled. “Maybe a little,” she said.
Bird had help scoring the ball. Forward Swin Cash scored 20 points and Camille Little added 12. As a team, the Storm shot 28-for-56 (50 percent) for the game.
“I was happy with how we played, we are getting better offensively,” Storm coach Brian Alger said. “I wish we could have been a little more balanced in scoring, but I have always said you have to take what they give you.”
Added Cash: “I was really happy with our effort tonight, especially at home. For us getting back here, getting the wins in the Key was really important and now we go on the road and try to steal some.”
The Storm (7-4) travel to San Antonio today to face the Silver Stars on Thursday The Silver Stars led the Western Conference until Tuesday, plummeting to fourth with a 84-74 loss to the Los Angeles Sparks..It is the first game of a three-game road trip that takes the Storm to San Antonio, Minnesota and Chicago.
“It’s going to be a tough stretch,” Bird said.