SEATTLE — Tina Thompson wasn’t happy with the way she had been shooting the basketball through the first five games of the WNBA season.
She was much happier after Tuesday night’s 96-86 overtime victory over the Washington Mystics. The 38-year-old Thompson scored a season-high 30 points and shot 11-for-18 from the field to lead Seattle to their third win of the season.
Thompson also found her range from behind the 3-point line, finishing 5-for-9 from beyond the arc. None of those five 3s were bigger than the one she hit from the baseline with 2:49 to play in overtime as the shot clock expired.
“When I miss shots, I don’t worry about them too much,” Thompson said. “I have been shooting and playing long enough to just kind of not pay too much attention to it. I’m going to miss shots, but not taking a shot is worse than missing a shot. So I’m just going to keep on shooting.”
Thompson certainly has the green light to do so. With Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson out for the season with injuries, Thompson’s offense might go a long way toward determining just how far the team can go.
Storm head coach Brian Agler has seen a lot of great performances in his coaching career. He described Thompson’s effort on Tuesday with just one word.
“Unbelievable,” he said. “I’m just totally impressed. I told them after the game that everyone played great, but I told Tina that was unbelievable. The shots she was hitting. She got the looks. We want those kind of looks for her. It wasn’t like she forced a lot. When the shot clock was winding down she had to put it on the floor and she made a couple of spectacular shots there. She played good defensively and rebounded well.
“She’s a winner. She’s proven that.”
Storm point guard Temeka Johnson was all smiles after the game talking about her teammate’s effort.
“It’s fun,” Johnson said. “You can’t get caught up watching though, but it’s fun, especially when she’s on your side. If you have to guard it or play against it, it is a headache.”
Before the game it was Bird who got most of the applause, appearing in Seattle with the team for the first time this season after undergoing knee surgery. By the second half, it was Thompson who had won over the crowd. A sparse crowd of 4,579 was chanting her name in the third quarter and with 27 seconds left in overtime all of them stood up to give her a standing ovation when Agler took her out of the game.
“I guess any time that happens it’s pretty cool,” Thompson said after the game. “When you are in the moment it is not something you are thinking about. It’s just kind of finishing out the game.”
The Storm have won two straight to get back to .500 (3-3) on the season and appear to be getting better, but the sample size is still small and Agler said the league is very competitive this season.
“I think we are improving and that’s a good thing,” Agler said. “It is good to get some victories because we have been working hard and the players need reinforced that their actions are producing success. In regards to where we should be, that’s hard to say.
“It will be interesting to see how this Western Conference shakes out.”
Aaron Lommers covers the Seattle Storm for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.