Sue Bird didn't exactly hit a game-winning shot tonight, but her 3-point shot with 37.4 seconds left essentially sealed a win and clinched a WNBA playoff berth for the Seattle Storm tonight against the Tulsa Shock.
Bird led all scorers with 21 points and tied for a team-high five assists as the Storm held on for a 78-72 win in Tulsa.
After being down by as many as 15 points late in the third quarter, the Shock used another strong rebounding effort in the fourth quarter to make a 6-0 run to get within four points with just under two minutes left. Bird's three stole hope from the Shock as it put them down by seven points with under a minute left. From there it was only a matter of time before the Storm got the win.
Storm center Lauren Jackson finished with 20 points and five rebounds, but the Shock's ability to contain her for stretches helped them stay in the game and actually prevented her from having a bigger game. A combination of rotating defenders on Jackson to keep her off her spots and Jackson starting to rush her shots a little helped the Shock hold her to only one field goal in a nine minute stretch spanning the third and fourth quarters. But once she adjusted and found her comfort zone she scored six in the fourth.
The Shock were led by outstanding shooting from their wings, with Jen Lacy scoring a team-high 18 points on 4-for-4 3-point shooting and Amber Holt adding 17 points, including 3-for-5 3-point shooting. The Shock were without guard Ivory Latta, who was in street clothes tonight after having some of her best point guard performances of the year in their previous five games.
The Storm now head to San Antonio tomorrow night to finish a three-game road trip a half game ahead of the third place Phoenix Mercury.