By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
SEATTLE — The Seattle Storm appear to have learned their lesson from Thursday night’s fourth-quarter collapse against the Chicago Sky — at least for one night.
The Storm held off a late comeback attempt by Indiana and defeated the Fever 77-70 behind Tina Thompson’s 23 points on Saturday night.
It was nearly the polar opposite of the game on Thursday against the Sky where the Storm were outscored 32-6 in the fourth quarter to turn a 13-point lead into a loss by that same margin.
In a postgame interview in front of the 6,889 fans in attendance, Thompson summed up the difference between Thursday’s loss and Saturday’s victory with four simple words.
“Dude, we were pissed,” she said to laughter and cheers from the crowd.
Thompson, who announced earlier in the season that she would retire at season’s end, shot 5-for-10 from the field including 2-for-5 from 3-point range and grabbed seven rebounds, none more important than the one she grabbed with just under 20 seconds remaining that all but sealed the victory for the Storm.
With her seven rebounds, Thompson went over 3,000 for her career. With a total of 3,003, she trails Taj McWilliams-Franklin for second place in WNBA history.
“I don’t know what 3,000 rebounds actually says for a career,” Thompson said. “I’ve played quite a long time so I think I probably should have grabbed quite a few.”
The Storm shot 50 percent (5-for-10) in the fourth quarter led by six apiece from Thompson and guard Tanisha Wright, much better than the 3-for-12 they shot in the fourth quarter on Thursday.
Wright praised Thompson’s efforts after the game.
“She’s been amazing all year,” she said. “I’m going to be sad to see her leave. At this point of her career and at this stage where she is to be able to play at this type of level — I mean, you are playing in the best women’s league in the world — so for her to be able to continue to perform like this is absolutely amazing.”
The Storm appeared as though they would cruise against Indiana, opening up by making their first eight shots from the field and nine for their first 10. The Fever closed the gap in the second quarter and even took their first lead since 3-2 early in the first quarter at 39-38 with 27.5 seconds remaining in the first half. Two free throws by Temeka Johnson gave the Storm a 40-39 halftime lead, but momentum appeared to have changed hands.
The Fever tied the game four times in the third quarter and once in the fourth, but were never able to seize the lead.
“We are going to have to work on this whole getting off to good starts and good leads and letting people back in,” Wright said. “That’s just a matter of keeping your focus and knowing how to control the game.”
The Fever played the game without two of their three leading scorers, Katie Douglas and Shavonte Zellous, but they didn’t get any sympathy from Wright.
“We are playing without two Olympians and two all-stars, so I’m not concerned with people missing two of their top scorers,” she said, referring to point guard Sue Bird and center Lauren Jackson who are both out for the entire 2013 season with injuries. “We are focused on who we have and I’m sure all the rest of the teams are focused on who they have too.”
The Storm improved to 11-13 on the season and gained a game on Phoenix for third place in the West. The Mercury lost to San Antonio on Saturday and the Storm maintained their two-game lead over the Silver Stars for fourth place in the West.
It hasn’t been easy, but the Storm continue to find ways to win ball games and stay close to .500. With a win over Los Angeles on Tuesday, they can end their five-game home stand with a winning record.
“Nothing is coming easy for us right now,” Wright said. “We are in a position right now where we have to work hard for everything that we want — so, so be it.”
Aaron Lommers covers the Seattle Storm for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.