Aaron Lommers of The Everett Herald summed up the Seattle Storm's disastrous first half at KeyArena last night in which they fell behind by 26 points to the Minnesota Lynx as concisely as possible.
HeraldNet.com - Storm: Storm vs. Lynx: 2nd quarter
The bottom line, the Lynx are playing defense and most importantly playing with heart.
The Storm aren't.
But after the game, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve was a bit more precise about exactly what that game plan for the Lynx was.
"Taj McWilliams-Franklin is 40 years old, but she's a freak of nature," Reeve said. "Her defense of Lauren Jackson kept her from getting her wheels rolling and that was big for them. Then it had to be Sue Bird trying to take over so I'm happy with our defense."
For the second consecutive game, Jackson was held in check by an opposing defense, scoring only two points on 1-for-6 shooting in the first half. Sue Bird did take over in the fourth quarter after Swin Cash seemed to get things rolling in the third quarter, but the Lynx's defensive effort in the first half was about as good as anyone has imposed upon the Storm in two years at KeyArena, as described at SB Nation's Swish Appeal.
Minnesota 81, Seattle 74: Lynx Win Showcases Impressive Defense & Room For Growth - Swish Appeal
Minnesota entered the game leading the league in fast-break points and outscored the Storm 14-0 in fast-break points for the game, which is perhaps surprising given that they didn't exactly force an excessive number of turnovers - they did it by controlling the boards.
"We didn't see that coming, but our defense was pretty good," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. "They missed a lot of shots and we got on a roll."
In jumping out to a 28-8 first quarter lead, the Lynx limited the Storm to only one offensive rebound (8% offensive rebounding percentage) off of their 3-for-15 shooting performance.
However, it's not as if the Storm didn't know that they had some work to do entering the game - as described yesterday in our SBN Seattle feature prior to the game, the Storm's defense was known to be a work-in-progress; the Lynx didn't necessarily expose the Storm's need for improvement, but just reinforced that the Storm have a ways to go and at least one challenger in front of them on their quest to repeat as WNBA champions.
And given that it's only their second game of the season, one of Storm coach Brian Agler's pre-game concerns noted by Kevin Pelton of StormBasketball.com is also noteworthy.
STORM: Live from Press Row - Storm vs. Minnesota
One of Storm Head Coach Brian Agler's concerns entering this game was the difference in game action the two teams have gotten so far this season. Where Minnesota is playing its fourth game already, the Storm is on game number two. We've seen that difference early, as the Lynx looks very crisp while the Storm is still working through some early-season issues.
Despite a sub-par performance last night and the Lynx coming into their own as a legitimate contender in the Western Conference, we shouldn't dwell on this game as the final word on the Storm's 2011 title hopes.
It's one loss, they haven't canceled the season and anointed the Lynx champions as of yet, and the Storm have time to get better.
The real test is how the Storm will respond when they next face the Lynx on June 24.
For more on last night's game and the WNBA, visit the summary at SB Nation's women's basketball site Swish Appeal. Click here for photos of the game from Kailas Images on Swish Appeal's Facebook page.