By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
SEATTLE — The Seattle Storm celebrated the career of president and CEO Karen Bryant before playing the Indiana Fever on Thursday, her final day with the organization.
The Storm also honored Fever head coach Lin Dunn, who was the first head coach in the Storm’s 15-year history.
Dunn’s Fever spoiled the celebration by handing the Storm a 76-67 defeat. It was the Storm’s seventh consecutive loss and all but eliminated them from playoff contention.
“There is a lot of emotion with this game, being KB’s last game, but I don’t think that was a reason why we didn’t win,” Storm point guard Sue Bird said. “If anything, hopefully it would have motivated us a little bit.”
Seattle led after each of the first three quarters, but was outscored 25-15 by the Fever in the fourth.
“We don’t close games out,” Bird said. “There’s been games where we’ve had the lead and there’s been games where we’ve had to come back. Whatever the case is, we just can’t seem to get it done to get wins.”
With five games to play, the Storm trail the Los Angeles Sparks by four games for the final playoff spot in the WNBA’s Western Conference. The Sparks own the regular-season tiebreaker over the Storm, meaning Seattle needs to not only catch, but surpass Los Angeles.
Though disappointed the Storm couldn’t win on Bryant’s final night with the organization, head coach Brian Agler said it doesn’t take away from what she has accomplished in Seattle. In 15 seasons, Bryant helped bring two championships to Seattle, but perhaps even more importantly became the focal point of the ownership group that made sure the Storm stayed in Seattle when the SuperSonics and Storm were purchased by Clay Bennett. Bennett eventually moved the Sonics to Oklahoma City, but sold the Storm to Force 10 Hoops, ensuring the team would stay in KeyArena.
“I wish we could have gotten (a victory), but I don’t think it takes away from a well-deserved recognition,” Agler said. “Obviously, we would have loved to get a win on a special night, but I don’t think anyone is going to think back 10 years from now about her tenure and say that we lost the last game that she worked here.
“Her legacy is much stronger and longer and impactful than that.”
Dunn was introduced to a standing ovation before the game and left to one after her Fever had earned the victory. Dunn coached the Storm from 1999-2002 before moving on to Indiana. She won a WNBA championship with the Fever in 2012.
Fever forward Tamika Catchings created a bit of history for herself in Thursday’s win. Her 16 points were enough to move her past former Storm guard Katie Smith for third-place in the WNBA’s all-time scoring list behind Diana Taurasi and former Storm forward Tina Thompson.
Despite shooting better than 50 percent from the field, the Storm dropped yet another game. The storyline has been similar for during the streak — Seattle just can’t seem to put a full game together. A 5-for-12 shooting performance from the free-throw line as well as 18 turnovers, 13 of which came in the first half, played a big factor in the loss.
“Nobody is happy to be losing,” Bird said. “Nobody in this locker room wants this. I don’t think any team that goes through this wants it. For whatever reason, we just can’t seem to put it together.”
Aaron Lommers covers the Seattle Storm for The Herald. Follow him on Twitter at @aaronlommers and contact him at email@example.com.