By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
The Seattle Storm defeated the Phoenix Mercury in Phoenix 83-64 on Friday to improve their record to 9-10 going into the month-long Olympic break.
Guard Katie Smith scored 14 of her game-high 19 points in the first quarter to help lead the Storm to the win.
Seattle currently sits comfortably in fourth place in the Western Conference, trailing Minnesota, San Antonio and Los Angeles. The break comes at the right time for the Storm, who have suffered some injuries to key players recently. Forward Tina Thompson has a strained left knee and missed the final three games before the break, but is expected to return when the season resumed in mid-August. The same is true for center Ann Wauters, who has been out with an Achilles injury.
Thompson and Wauters are the Storm’s second and third leading scorers respectively at the halfway point of the season.
Perhaps even more important for the Storm is that they will welcome back forward/center Lauren Jackson back after the Olympic games. Jackson has missed the first half of the 2012 season training with the Australian national team.
While it is up for debate as to rather or not the extended break will help or hurt many of the teams, there is little doubt that it is an advantage for the Storm, who believe they can make a playoff run when their three key pieces return.
While many of the players get an opportunity to take a little time off and see their families before returning to a regular practice schedule, point guard Sue Bird will continue playing basketball. As a member of Team USA, Bird is chasing her third gold medal this year in London.
The Storm and Mercury will face each other again on Aug. 16 at KeyArena when the season resumes.