Minnesota Lynx End Seattle Storm's Home Winning Streak At 18

The Seattle Storm (1-0) host the Minnesota Lynx (2-1), which includes 2011 #1 draft pick Maya Moore and #4 draft pick Amber Harris, tonight at 7 p.m. PST at KeyArena. However, the fact that the Lynx were a lottery team doesn't mean they're lacking for talent - after an injury plagued season in 2010, the Lynx are finding their rhythm much earlier in 2011. The game will be broadcast for free online via WNBA Live Access. For more on the Storm and the WNBA, visit SBN's women's basketball site Swish Appeal. Click here for a game thread with other WNBA fans.

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Lynx Defense Deserves Credit For Storm's 26-Point Halftime Deficit At KeyArena

Aaron Lommers of The Everett Herald summed up the Seattle Storm's disastrous first half at KeyArena last night in which they fell behind by 26 points to the Minnesota Lynx as concisely as possible.

HeraldNet.com - Storm: Storm vs. Lynx: 2nd quarter
The bottom line, the Lynx are playing defense and most importantly playing with heart.

The Storm aren't.

But after the game, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve was a bit more precise about exactly what that game plan for the Lynx was.

"Taj McWilliams-Franklin is 40 years old, but she's a freak of nature," Reeve said. "Her defense of Lauren Jackson kept her from getting her wheels rolling and that was big for them. Then it had to be Sue Bird trying to take over so I'm happy with our defense."

For the second consecutive game, Jackson was held in check by an opposing defense, scoring only two points on 1-for-6 shooting in the first half. Sue Bird did take over in the fourth quarter after Swin Cash seemed to get things rolling in the third quarter, but the Lynx's defensive effort in the first half was about as good as anyone has imposed upon the Storm in two years at KeyArena, as described at SB Nation's Swish Appeal.

Minnesota 81, Seattle 74: Lynx Win Showcases Impressive Defense & Room For Growth - Swish Appeal
Minnesota entered the game leading the league in fast-break points and outscored the Storm 14-0 in fast-break points for the game, which is perhaps surprising given that they didn't exactly force an excessive number of turnovers - they did it by controlling the boards.

"We didn't see that coming, but our defense was pretty good," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. "They missed a lot of shots and we got on a roll."

In jumping out to a 28-8 first quarter lead, the Lynx limited the Storm to only one offensive rebound (8% offensive rebounding percentage) off of their 3-for-15 shooting performance.

However, it's not as if the Storm didn't know that they had some work to do entering the game - as described yesterday in our SBN Seattle feature prior to the game, the Storm's defense was known to be a work-in-progress; the Lynx didn't necessarily expose the Storm's need for improvement, but just reinforced that the Storm have a ways to go and at least one challenger in front of them on their quest to repeat as WNBA champions.

And given that it's only their second game of the season, one of Storm coach Brian Agler's pre-game concerns noted by Kevin Pelton of StormBasketball.com is also noteworthy.

STORM: Live from Press Row - Storm vs. Minnesota
One of Storm Head Coach Brian Agler's concerns entering this game was the difference in game action the two teams have gotten so far this season. Where Minnesota is playing its fourth game already, the Storm is on game number two. We've seen that difference early, as the Lynx looks very crisp while the Storm is still working through some early-season issues.

Despite a sub-par performance last night and the Lynx coming into their own as a legitimate contender in the Western Conference, we shouldn't dwell on this game as the final word on the Storm's 2011 title hopes.

It's one loss, they haven't canceled the season and anointed the Lynx champions as of yet, and the Storm have time to get better.

The real test is how the Storm will respond when they next face the Lynx on June 24.

For more on last night's game and the WNBA, visit the summary at SB Nation's women's basketball site Swish Appeal. Click here for photos of the game from Kailas Images on Swish Appeal's Facebook page.

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Storm Vs. Lynx Final Score: Storm Fall 81-74 At KeyArena Despite Furious Comeback Attempt

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Throughout the Seattle Storm's historic championship run last season, they were lauded for their resilience.

Time after time, they were faced with a deficit and each successive comeback seemed to reinforce the notion that we were witnessing something great happening.

In defeating the Storm 81-74 tonight, the very talented Minnesota Lynx ended one of the greatest home winning streaks in the history of Seattle sports, which was full of comebacks and thrilling finishes. But even in loss tonight, the broader pattern of resilience still holds.

Down 26 points at halftime, the Storm could very easily have played out the final minutes of a dominant home strak waiting for the buzzer to sound and put the sour taste of a home loss behind them. Instead, whether due to confidence in their ability or the security of past experience, the Storm approached the second half as though it didn't occur to them that a loss was inevitable.

"We knew we had to come in with a really tough mindset because it's hard to get wins in this place so I'm really proud of the way we came out," said Lynx rookie forward Maya Moore, who finished with 14 point and six rebounds in her first trip to KeyArena. "We were able to hold on toward the end there. We knew Seattle wasn't going to just lay down and die - they were going to fight their way back."

After essentially playing the Lynx even in the third quarter, the Storm played as dominant a fourth quarter as the Lynx played a first quarter. Not only did the Storm shoot 58.3 percent from the field, but they reduced their turnovers to zero while moving the ball to find open shooters at a championship level. Meanwhile, they defended with a vigor that simply wasn't there earlier in the game.

And then there was Sue Bird who seemed to decide that she was not going to allow her team to go quietly. After a slow start to the game, Bird finished with a game-high 24 points and three assists after knocking down shot after shot in the fourth to chip away at the lead.

With under two minutes left in the game, the Storm found themselves within single digits, which was almost as shocking as the fact that they came out so flat to begin with.

"They had a 22-game home win streak going," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, referring to the Storm's regular season and playoff winning stream dating back to the beginning of last season. "We didn't talk about it, but in the back of my mind I knew it."

The Lynx deserve all the credit in the world for coming out tonight and pushing the reigning WNBA champions into a corner. They finished the game shooting shooting 57.1 percent and shot over 60 percent through the first three quarters. Rebekkah Brunson led the way with 22 points and 14 rebounds while Lindsay Whalen orchestrated the Lynx attack beautifully with a game-high 10 assists and 13 points.

But what made the game most impressive is not only that the Storm never gave up, but that they sent a message that even if their home winning streak is no longer in tact, containing them even for a full 40 minutes is a daunting task, much less trying to do so more than once in a playoff situation.

And that's why they are no less likely to repeat than they were prior to the game - as dominant as the Lynx looked tonight, they're under no pretense that the Storm are any less the resilient team on display last season.

"Fourth quarter is not what we wanted, but I've seen teams come here and have 24 or 25-point leads and lose so we were happy to have a big lead and hang on," Reeve said. "Win by one or by 21, it's still a win."

For more on the game, visit SB Nation's women's basketball site Swish Appeal.

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Storm Vs. Lynx Halftime Score: Minnesota Races Out To Stunning 50-24 Lead

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Anytime a team gets down by 26 points in the first half, there's likely more than one explanation for it.

That might be especially true when that team is the Seattle Storm.

And going up against an extremely talented Minnesota Lynx team, that's probably even more true as the defending champs find themselves down 50-24 at halftime at KeyArena.

Rebekkah Brunson continued her outstanding play in the first half with a game-high 18 points on 8-for-9 shooting to go with eight rebounds. Maya Moore has eight points on 4-for-4 shooting. Point guard Lindsay Whalen appears headed to a double-double with a game-high eight assists to go with seven points. The sum total is a team that's shooting 64.7 percent against a Storm team that prides itself on defense.

Statistically, that's what it boils down to: the Storm are just not able to stop the Lynx right now.

Camille Little leads the Storm with six points on 3-for-5 shooting.

The Storm were down at halftime by 18 points against the Phoenix Mercury last year and came back to win. But by all appearances, they just didn't show up tonight.

For more on the game, visit SB Nation's women's basketball site Swish Appeal.

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