Seattle Storm Vs. San Antonio Silver Stars Final Score: Storm Win 70-60 On The Road

The Seattle Storm face the San Antonio Silver Stars on the road to complete a regular season series they've already won. The game will be broadcast at 5 p.m. PST on NBA TV. and online at WNBA LiveAccess. Click here for more on the Western Conference playoff race. For more on the Storm, visit our Seattle Storm section. For more on the WNBA in general, visit SB Nation's women's basketball site Swish Appeal.

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2011 WNBA Playoff Race: Phoenix Mercury Clinch Playoff Berth, Seattle Storm Stay In Second

With their 70-60 win in San Antonio tonight, the Seattle Storm (19-13) remained in second place in the Western Conference even after the third place Phoenix Mercury (18-13) clinched a playoff berth with a win over the Los Angeles Sparks.

The Storm now have nearly a week off with a half-game lead over the Mercury for second place and home court advantage in the likely first round meeting. The Storm will resume play next week with home games against the Mercury and their regular season finale on September 11 against Gonzaga alum Courtney Vandersloot and the Chicago Sky.

The Mercury clinched a playoff berth for the third consecutive season and the fourth time in the last five years, including title runs in 2007 and 2009 and a trip to the Western Conference Finals against the Storm last season.

For both the Mercury and Storm, their wins tonight make Friday's meeting even more important as the two teams fight for who will have home court advantage in their increasingly likely first round meeting.

"You have to really focus on that (game)," Mercury guard Diana Taurasi said about Friday's game against the Storm. "They've been playing really well as of late. We fly out Friday morning and play Friday night so its not the best scenario but we'll go."

But for the fourth place Silver Stars (15-16) and Sparks (13-18) things are still unclear; with both teams losing tonight, the Silver Stars remain two games ahead of the Sparks.

The Sparks' schedule does still give them a shot to close the gap: with three home games remaining in their regular season, the Sparks get a chance to gain a game against the Silver Stars directly in a head-to-head meeting on Tuesday and follow that with a rematch against the 3-27 Tulsa Shock who ended their 20-game losing streak in L.A. on August 26.

But it won't exactly be easy for the Sparks.

"Win - we can't lose," said Sparks forward Candace Parker when asked what it would take to make the playoffs. "We have to bank on San Antonio losing another one. For us we just have to take care of our business and take care of San Antonio starting on Tuesday. We just need to win out and see what happens."

Even if the Silver Stars lose to the Sparks on Tuesday, they'll still have just as good an opportunity to get in, despite an extended losing streak after the All-Star break: they'll have a home game against the 6-25 Washington Mystics followed by their regular season finale in Tulsa.

Nevertheless, filling that fourth and final playoff spot is about the Sparks as much as whatever the Silver Stars do: if they show up and play defense, they could easily win out and at least put pressure on the Silver Stars. But if they have the type of defensive lapses they had at home against the Shock, it's hard to imagine them making it to the postseason.

"The next three games, we have San Antonio, which is head-to-head so that is important," said Sparks coach Joe Bryant. "After that we have Tulsa and Chicago and San Antonio has Tulsa and Washington. No telling what is going to happen. We have to play it out. That’s what I told the women. Make sure to keep our heads up high.

"It’s not over until it’s over."

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Seattle Storm Vs. San Antonio Silver Stars Final Score: Storm Get A Solid 70-60 Win On The Road

With just under three minutes left in the fourth quarter, forward Swin Cash banked in a 3-pointer from the left wing to put the Seattle Storm up by 10 points. 

Aside from the fact that it was unclear as to whether she called her bank on a Saturday evening, this is the same player that is coming off 22.5 percent 3-point shooting in August.

And that was just the type of game the Storm had in beating the San Antonio Silver Stars 70-60 in the second of back-to-back road games tonight - there were times when they weren't just getting good scoring opportunities, but everything seemed to be falling.

After a cold first quarter, the Storm shot just over 50 percent over the final three quarters. When considering the string of cold shooting nights the Storm had earlier this season, it was refreshing to see that type of progress with the WNBA playoffs approaching on September 15.

Cash didn't actually shoot that well in scoring 14 points on 6-for-16 shooting and grabbing a team-high 12 rebounds, but that performance was also her largest point total since mid-August in a blowout against the Atlanta Dream. Storm point guard Sue Bird led the scoring effort with 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting and setting up teammates with a team-high six assists. 

However, Bird's seven turnovers tell another unfortunate story for the Storm - turnovers haunted them once again in a third quarter that they committed 8 of their 19 turnovers, which is more than they've had in any game since center Lauren Jackson's return.

Jackson's presence was noticeable tonight as her ability to draw opposing post players out to the perimeter opened up space for players like Cash and even shooting guard Tanisha Wright to go to work in the post. Jackson wasn't shy about taking 3-pointers either, going 3-for-5 from beyond the arc and finishing the game with 13 points and four rebounds. Perhaps more importantly, Jackson played just under 23 minutes, which is closer to what coach Brian Agler might like and gave her some measure of rest in the second half after averaging 28 minutes over the past three games.

Silver Stars forward Sophia Young scored a game-high 22 points and tied for a team-high five rebounds, but the Storm did do a better job of keeping her off of the free throw line in the second half in holding her without a free throw attempt.

The implications of the game will be clearer later tonight after the Los Angeles Sparks and Phoenix Mercury complete their game on NBA TV, but for now it's fair to say that this is a significant win for the Storm: it was a quality win on the road in which they found a way to overcome that persistent turnover problem.

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Seattle Storm Vs. San Antonio Silver Stars Halftime Score: Storm Take Slim 30-29 Lead

After a slow start in the first quarter, the Seattle Storm shot 50 percent in the second quarter to take a slim 30-29 lead into halftime against the San Antonio Silver Stars.

The Storm's second quarter shooting performance followed a first quarter in which they only shot 33.3 percent from the field. If you're looking for a reason for the increased shooting efficiency, their assist totals between the two quarters certainly tell part of the story: the Storm had no assists in the first quarter and five in the second quarter. They were visibly moving the ball better and moving better without the ball through San Antonio's zone to find high percentage scoring opportunities.

Point guard Sue Bird is once again leading the Storm in scoring with seven points, while Swin Cash has complemented her with hard work in the paint with a game-high seven rebounds to go with five points.

Storm coach Brian Agler said he was considering giving center Lauren Jackson a rest after coming back from injury recently and he was at least more attentive to her minutes in the first half although she did start - Jackson played just under 13 minutes in the first half, which means she's on pace to possibly play a tad less than she has in the past three games. The Silver Stars' zone scheme kept Jackson in check - in addition to her spending considerable time around the perimeter - and she only finished with four points and one rebound in the first half.

Silver Stars forward Sophia Young is once again leading her team in scoring against the Storm with a game-high 10 points and team-high four rebounds. Her athleticism is giving the Storm trouble as she got to the free throw line eight times, but she only made four of those, which is certainly significant in what figures to be another close game.

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Seattle Storm At San Antonio Silver Stars Starting Lineups: Lauren Jackson Starts Again

Although Seattle Storm coach Brian Agler suggested that Lauren Jackson might not play with a playoff berth already secured, Jackson started after all.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see just how many minutes Jackson gets given that Agler suggested she might get some rest.

Tonight's starting lineups:

Seattle Storm

Swin Cash

Camille Little

Lauren Jackson

Tanisha Wright

Sue Bird

San Antonio Silver Stars

Jia Perkins

Sophia Young

Ruth Riley

Becky Hammon

Danielle Robinson

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Seattle Storm Vs. San Antonio Silver Stars: Three Keys For The Seattle Storm

The Seattle Storm are in the playoffs after last night's win, but obviously would prefer to secure their current spot in second place.

They obviously have some breathing room now as one of the two teams in the Western Conference that already has a playoff berth, but they'd obviously like to win tonight.

There's some question about how or whether Storm coach Brian Agler will play Lauren Jackson, but to the Storm's advantage, they know they can play with this team without her: they only lost by one possession in their last trip to San Antonio. So that provides a pretty good blueprint for what they need to do tonight.

Three keys for the Storm:

  • Rebounding: Although the Storm have done a better job of controlling the ball with Jackson back in the lineup, they've struggled on the boards. That was the case in their 63-55 win against the Silver Stars at KeyArena on August 23 as well as late in their 69-66 loss in San Antonio, in which an offensive rebound, putback and three point play by rookie forward Danielle Adams beat them. The Silver Stars' are a better rebounding team with Adams back in the lineup but the Storm simply cannot afford to get beat on the boards against this team if they expect to win in their place.
  • Turnovers: If Jackson does not play, we're also back to worrying about turnovers, which tend to occur because the Storm become far more perimeter oriented without Jackson and try to force passes inside. But the Silver Stars are strong in terms of both minimizing their own turnovers and creating turnovers, so it's critical that the Storm find a way to keep things under control tonight.
  • Stop Becky Hammon's penetration: The Silver Stars thrive on crafty veteran guard Becky Hammon's ability to penetrate into the lane and kick out to shooters. That is especially true with Danielle Adams on the floor to help pull out post players and hit 3-point shots from deep. The Storm have done extremely well in containing Hammon this year, holding her to just five points even in San Antonio. But she also had nine assists in that game, which reinforces the point about how dangerous she can be even if not scoring.
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Seattle Storm Vs. San Antonio Silver Stars On NBA TV: Agler Considering Resting Jackson After Clinching Playoff Berth

The Seattle Storm face the San Antonio Silver Stars on the road to complete a regular season series they've already won.

The game will be broadcast at 5 p.m. PST on NBA TV. and online at WNBA LiveAccess.

Click here for more on the Western Conference playoff race. For more on the Storm, visit our Seattle Storm section. For more on the WNBA in general, visit SB Nation's women's basketball site Swish Appeal.

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