EVERETT — It’s only fitting that Jordin Canada’s possibly career-defining performance came in a building primarily used for junior hockey.
And it came at the best possible time for her team, as the Seattle guard poured in 26 points and led the Storm to an 84-74 first-round, single-elimination playoff win Wednesday over the Minnesota Lynx at Angel of the Winds Arena.
Canada, the fifth-overall pick in the 2018 draft, came off the bench to spell Sue Bird in the Storm’s 2018 WNBA championship run and the sophomore floor general showed little trepidation in her first career playoff start.
“I know who I am as a player and I have that confidence in myself,” Canada said. “I just try and stick to what I know.”
The Storm advanced to the second round of the WNBA playoffs. Seattle, the No. 7 seed, will take on the Los Angeles Sparks, the No. 3 seed, on Sunday in the Staples Center.
After Seattle carried a comfortable lead for most of the first half, the Lynx put a dent in it several times in the second half, in particular on two separate occasions.
But each time, the Storm did not fold.
A 6-0 run toward the end of the third cut the Storm’s lead to three, but a bucket from Mercedes Lewis started a 9-2 run that bled into the fourth quarter.
Minnesota trimmed the lead to four with 5:52 remaining after Sylvia Fowles muscled her way to the basket, but Jewell Loyd split a pair of foul shots, sunk a mid-range jumper and hit two more free throws to extend the lead back to 76-67, a more comfortable margin.
The Storm’s defense put the clamps on the Lynx, allowing just seven points and two field goals over the final 5:52.
The Storm shot 48.6 percent from the field in the first half and 45.5 percent from 3-point range to carry a 47-41 lead into halftime.
But it was a 15-5 run in the middle of the first quarter that helped the Storm assemble an 18-9 lead. Seattle was moving the ball around and cutting to the basket with ease.
Loyd added 22 points and Russell chipped in 13 points and nine rebounds for the Storm.
Backcourt mates Canada and Loyd combined to outscore Minnesota’s starting backcourt of Danielle Robinson and Odyssey Sims 48-1.
Storm rack up defensive accolades
Before the game, Storm forward Natasha Howard was awarded the WNBA’s defensive player of the year trophy. She averaged 8.2 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.7 blocks to go along with her 18.1 points per game in the regular season.
Two other Storm players made it to the WNBA two All-Defensive teams. Canada was a first-team selection with 2.27 steals per game and forward Alysha Clark was a second-team selection.