While some players struggle just to find a rhythm when returning from an extended injury absence, Seattle Storm center Lauren Jackson not only made her presence felt but also played arguably her best nine minutes of the season against the New York Liberty tonight.
In her first game back from a hip injury that has sidelined her since June 21, Jackson started and scored a game-high 10 points in nine minutes to lead the Storm to a 32-27 halftime lead over the visiting New York Liberty at KeyArena.
Jackson showcased her trademark versatility, scoring in the post, from the line, hitting two 3-pointers, and showing complete confidence both banging inside and taking long jumpers. However, with Jackson still playing limited minutes, the Storm were plagued by familiar problems that helped keep the Liberty in this game.
After getting out to an outstanding 17-3 start in the first quarter with Jackson scoring five early points, Liberty guards Essence Carson and Cappie Pondexter started to get hot to keep them in the game with a team-high seven points apiece. Consecutive jumpers by Carson cut the lead to 17. After playing basically even from that point on in the first period, the Storm started to beat themselves in the second period.
Falling into their unfortunate pattern of settling for jumpers and turning the ball over with Jackson out of the game, the Storm went without a free throw and committed four turnovers in the second quarter as they were just outplayed by the Liberty in the second quarter. Swin Cash added eight points and a game-high four rebounds, but the combination of the Liberty's aggressive defense and rushed decisions offensively led to the Storm shooting 27 percent in the second quarter.
With the initial excitement of Jackson's a thing of the past, this is turning into the defensive battle that might have been expected now as the Liberty only shot 29 percent themselves in the second quarter.