Much has been made of the Seattle Storm’s trouble overcoming the Los Angeles Sparks in the first round, losing three times in the last four years to Lisa Leslie’s former team.
But with Leslie retired and the Storm playing the best basketball in franchise history, things were different this year.
The Storm completed a two game sweep of the Sparks, winning 81-66 at the Staples Center this afternoon. It was their first playoff series victory since 2004 when they last won a WNBA title.
Lauren Jackson had an outstanding game with 24 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals, and 3 blocks while point guard Sue Bird had big shots in the second half with 15 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds.
After a slow start to open the game, the Storm just overwhelmed the Sparks in the paint. The Storm frontcourt, particularly Jackson, forced the Sparks defense to collapse and when the Sparks weren’t able to rotate out to the perimeter shooters, the Storm burned them.
Swin Cash’s first half shooting — she shot 4-4 from the three point line — got the Storm going in the second quarter in which they tied a WNBA record with seven three point shots.
A combination of Storm turnovers in the third quarter and Tina Thompson’s shooting kept the Sparks within striking distance as the entered the fourth quarter down 10, but the Storm simply turned up the intensity in the fourth quarter.
For more on the game, see the game thread at SBN’s Swish Appeal.
For a brief look at their second round opponent, the Phoenix Mercury, see our Storm playoffs storystream: Seattle Storm WNBA Playoff Push: The Quest For A Title Extends To Second Round