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."