By Wyatt Yearout
The Seattle Storm remained undefeated against Los Angeles, taking down the Sparks 81-72 on Thursday at KeyArena to improve to 11-5 on the season.
Breanna Stewart led the way for the Storm with 27 points and eight rebounds. Sue Bird tallied her 25th career double-double with 10 points and 11 assists.
Seattle opened up the game on a 7-0 run and remained hot on the offensive end in the first to score 26 points in the opening period while holding Los Angeles to 18 to take an eight-point advantage after one.
The Sparks found a rhythm on the offensive end in the second and cut the lead to just two points, however, the Storm closed out the period strong and extended its lead back to 41-35 at half.
Despite nine points in the third period from Stewart, Los Angeles was able to cut the Seattle lead to just two at 59-57 entering the fourth quarter thanks to a huge third quarter from Candace Parker with 14 points.
The Storm hung on to a two-point cushion for the first half of the final period until a small run stretched the lead to nine at 73-64 with 3:48 remaining. Seattle and Los Angeles essentially traded baskets from that point, allowing Seattle to claim the victory by nine points.
Head coach Dan Hughes loved the balanced effort of his team in its victory, noting he thought it was a combination of many things that led to the win as opposed to just one stat.
“Defensively we were able to contest shots, rebounding really went up a notch from our last game, and we scored effectively enough. I think it was several things, and that’s kind of what I want us to understand. We can’t be so one dimensional that we only win when X, Y and Z happens.”
- Stewart registered 25 or more points for the 8th time this season, logging a team-high 27 on 11-for-20 shooting.
- Jewell Loyd booked 13 points to go along with six rebounds and a season-high four steals.
- Natasha Howard scored in double figures for the 12th time this season, finishing with 14 on 7-for-13 shooting.
- Bird did not have a turnover tonight, marking the fourth time this season she has accomplished the feat. She now boasts a 4.04 assist-to-turnover ratio.
- Ten-time All-Star Bird dished out nine or more assists for the 5th time in 2018, including her third-straight game. She needs to do that two more times to match last season’s total of seven games with nine assists or more.
- At the 5:26 mark of the 4th quarter, Bird collected her 634th-career steal, tying Jia Perkins (634) for fifth all-time on the WNBA’s all-time steals list.
Seattle will look to stay unbeaten against the Connecticut Sun on Sunday at KeyArena. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m./PT.