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Seattle Storm Vs. Tulsa Shock: Storm Cruise To An Easy Win At Home

The Seattle Storm are back in town after a disappointing loss to the New York Liberty to host the struggling Tulsa Shock, who will be looking for only their second win of the season. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. PST and broadcast online at WNBA LiveAccess. For more on the Storm and the WNBA, visit SB Nation's women's basketball site Swish Appeal.

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Seattle Storm Vs. Tulsa Shock Final Score: Storm Coast To 77-63 Victory

The Seattle Storm didn't necessarily play a great game in their 77-63 win against the Tulsa Shock at KeyArena tonight.

But after sub-par performances in their last two games on the road, coming home and having the opportunity to coast to a relatively easy win has to be considered a relief. 

"Coming off that road trip we really wanted to get this win," said Storm point guard Sue Bird, who finished with nine points on 4-for-7 shooting. "I think that was evident by the way we started this game."

After getting up by as many as 27 points in the third quarter, the Storm played the role of gracious host in allowing the Shock to close the gap a bit during the fourth quarter. But in keeping their turnovers down to only nine and shooting 51.7 percent from the field, the Storm did enough to beat a Shock team that now falls to 1-21 with the loss.

"It was obviously much better, especially in the first half with three turnovers," said Storm coach Brian Agler. "It's important for us. I wasn't excited about how we played in the second half, but we still didn't turn the ball over. They weren't really out pressuring us as well."

Forward Camille Little led the way for the Storm with team-highs of 19 points and seven rebounds while guard Tanisha Wright added 11 points as the only two players on the team to score in double digits. But the biggest individual performance of the night belonged to Shock rookie center Liz Cambage who scored a career-high 24 points along with 10 rebounds to lead the Shock, showing perhaps the strongest signs of the potential that made her the number two pick in the 2011 WNBA Draft behind phenom Maya Moore.

"Yeah, I've finally started to find my groove," said Cambage. "I've been really up and down and I think that's because we've been very up and down with the coaching (changes). It's one thing one day and another thing the next day, but we're getting through it. We're sticking together as a team."

What ultimately separates the Storm's performance tonight from those in past games is that the Shock weren't able to force them into the bad shots or capitalize on sloppy possessions in quite the way other teams have recently. So although a win is certainly satisfying, the Storm will still have some things to work on before being able to make a run in the Western Conference playoffs.

"I was really happy with our first half," said Agler. "We're a team that is still trying to get better. There are some areas we're trying to get better at; being efficient on offense with the basketball is one of those. We made some strides there."

With the Storm, Phoenix Mercury, and San Antonio Silver Stars all winning tonight, the Storm remain in fourth place in the conference but can take solace in the fact that they'll be at home for five of their next six games.

"This place is magical," said Little of playing at home at KeyArena. "It feels good to be home. We've got a few days to be here. We do travel next week, but to be home for this many days is a blessing. We've been gone so long. And we love playing in this arena. The fans love being here. We always try to bring our best in front of them for sure."

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Seattle Storm Vs. Tulsa Shock Halftime Score: Storm Up 50-28

The Seattle Storm's offense wasn't necessarily fluid at all times, but they did a considerably better job of taking care of the ball and went into halftime with a 50-28 lead.

After averaging over 19 turnovers per game in their last five games, the Storm only turned the ball over three times in the first half against the Shock. Although things were not perfect as the Storm made plenty of mistakes that the league's elite defensive teams have turned into turnovers, they did some things right that we haven't seen in recent games.

Storm guard Tanisha Wright led the way with nine points and two assists in the first half, but forward Swin Cash also rebounded from her 1-for-13 performance in New York on Tuesday with eight points and three rebounds. However, Cash and Wright were the key figures in the Storm's first half effort primarily because of how they continued to attack the basket and put pressure on the Shock's somewhat porous defense. Their efforts to help get high percentage shots was key to the team's 66.7 percent shooting in the first half while the Shock only shot 34.6 percent from the field.

6-foot-8 Shock center Liz Cambage came off the bench to lead the Shock with game-highs of 11 points and six rebounds in the first half. Her height and ability to draw fouls to get to the free throw line presents a challenge to the relatively undersizxd Storm's defense.

Getting out of a game with under 10 turnovers - even against a 20-loss team in a blowout - would be a bonus if the Storm can maintain this pace in the second half.

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Seattle Storm Vs. Tulsa Shock: Three Non-Turnover Keys

Turnovers are bound to happen for someone when the Seattle Storm and Tulsa Shock meet tonight at KeyArena.

So yes, taking care of the ball will be essential for both teams and, given their last game, it might be a bigger concern for the Shock who will have to contend with the Storm's defense.

So if we accept turnovers as a given, what else might determine a win or loss for the Storm?

Three keys for the Storm:

  • Containing Tiffany Jackson: Forward Tiffany Jackson is having a rather outstanding season for the Shock, recording a double-double in four out of the last eight games. She leads the team in field goal percentage (46.7 percent), minutes per game (32.9), and rebounds per game (8.1). So with 6-foot-8 center Liz Cambage's getting inconsistent minutes over the last month as the team's leading scorer, Jackson is the player to focus on and stop from getting high percentage scoring opportunities. 
  • Rebounding: A sub-theme of the past two losses for the Storm has been rebounding, where they've struggled a bit - all five of their first half rebounds against the Liberty came on just two possessions in the second quarter. The Shock are a poor shooting team at 38.8 percent, which means stopping them on the offensive boards - in addition to pressuring the guards and creating turnovers - can completely stifle their offense; they're not particularly adept at scoring from 3-point range as a team shooting 37.7 percent from there.
  • Attack the basket: The Storm very easily fall into the bad habit of settling for long jumpers and the key to avoiding that - and perhaps turnovers - is to look for scoring opportunities from individual players going toward the basket, whether it be Swin Cash and Tanisha Wright on the drive or Camille Little and Ashley Robinson rolling to the basket. But standing around and waiting for something to open up otherwise has not been the Storm's strong point this season.
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Seattle Storm Vs. Tulsa Shock: Two Turnover-Prone Teams Meet At KeyArena

The Seattle Storm are back in town after a disappointing loss to the New York Liberty to host the struggling Tulsa Shock, who will be looking for only their second win of the season.

The game will tip off at 7 p.m. PST and broadcast online at WNBA LiveAccess.

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

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