As Pat Borzi of the Seattle Times described, the Storm’s victory was decided by a three point shot from guard Tanisha Wright:
Storm win ninth straight, beating Lynx 73-71
For the 10th time in their rush to the WNBA’s best record, the Storm on Saturday entered the fourth quarter trailing, this time by seven points to an improved Minnesota Lynx team they struggled to beat in Seattle two months ago.
And for the eighth time, the Storm pulled it out. Tanisha Wright’s three-pointer from the right baseline with 52.6 seconds to play provided the deciding points in the Storm’s 73-71 victory. But Lauren Jackson did most of the work, scoring 14 of her 26 points in the fourth quarter as the Storm won their franchise-best ninth consecutive game and matched the 2000 Houston Comets for the second-best 20-game record in WNBA history, 18-2.
The Lynx had a final opportunity to win the game, but ultimately failed to convert.
Storm extend franchise winning streak to nine
…three straight free throws by Rebekkah Brunson put the Lynx ahead, 71-70, with 1:11 remaining.
Wright came back down and nailed a three to gain a two-point edge, and from there Seimone Augustus turned it over and missed a jumper on the last two Minnesota possessions.
As usual, Jackson led the way for the Storm with a game-high 26 points, but ultimately it was the Storm’s overall shooting that led them to victory, outshooting the Lynx by nearly 20% in the pivotal fourth quarter. Overall, it made for a very impressive — if slightly surprising -- victory for the Storm. From SBN’s Swish Appeal:
Storm-Lynx Statistical Summary: Storm Simply Outshoot The Lynx
Despite the Lynx outplaying the Storm in offensive rebounding (30% – 25%), turnover percentage (15% – 28.05%), and free throw rate (29% – 25.4%), the Storm won this game with their shooting.
So how important was the Storm’s three point shooting? Effective field goal percentage might help to put that in perspective.
At the end of the first half, the Storm were down 37-36 but outshot the Lynx 44.8% to 37.1% from the field. But looking at their effective field goal percentage — which takes into account the additional value of made three point shots — the Storm outshot the Lynx 55.17% to 40%. Their first half three point shooting made for a very significant 10 percent difference in how we look at their shooting.
However, it was the last quarter where the Storm’s shooting really overwhelmed the Lynx. The Storm only went 2-7 from the three point line, but outshot the Lynx by nearly 20% from the field — 41.2% to 21.2%. The fact that they also outrebounded the Lynx 43% to 20% only added insult to injury. Not to pile on here, but it’s a worthwhile point — the Storm also had a 2 point percentage of 50% in each of the final three quarters, which means that although they weren’t getting to the line quite as much as the Lynx, they managed to convert the easier shots at a much higher percentage.
What’s remarkable about this game is not just that the Storm were resilient, but that they managed to find a way to win this game on the road despite really being beaten in most significant ways except the most significant: shooting. During the Storm’s last championship run, they returned from the All-Star break and went on a bit of a slump. If you allow for a loose historical comparison, during their 2004 championship run, the Storm sort of limped out of the All-Star break. So it’s quite encouraging that they’ve come out of the 2010 All-Star break with consecutive road games in which they pulled out a triple overtime game and gutted out a game that they could have very easily lost.
Does that mean they should just go ahead and raise the championship banner in Key Arena? Certainly not. But with each successive win over Western Conference opponents, it becomes harder to imagine scenarios in which they don’t get a chance to do so in the 2010 WNBA Finals.