Lauren Jackson hits big shot to make it possible, then Sue Bird finishes it off
Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve hoped time would run out on Seattle.
Instead, the Storm found 10 extra minutes to save its season with an 86-79 double-overtime victory in Game 2 of its Western Conference playoff series.
“I have no saliva in my mouth,” said a tired Sue Bird, the Storm All-Star who played 43 minutes and finished with a team-high 22 points.
Bird made two clutch three-pointers in the final three minutes of the second overtime to seal the victory.
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Teammate Lauren Jackson, though, gave Seattle its first extra five minutes.
A ghost through two quarters of the Storm’s most important game of the season — as she had been in the opening half of the WNBA schedule due to Australian Olympic team responsibilities — Jackson made an appearance at seemingly the right time.
The Storm was down three points as guard Tanisha Wright dribbled down court with seven seconds left in the game. Jackson collected the ball from Bird and drained a three-pointer with 1.1 seconds left, sending the game into overtime.
“It let us know it was winnable,” said Wright, who finished with 18 points and seven assists.
Jackson, a 6-foot-6 center, fouled out with 40.2 seconds left in the first OT.
And Minnesota, the defending WNBA champion, thought it had the game won. But an errant switch on defense left Wright open for a three-pointer, tying the score at 75-75 with 23.9 seconds left.
In the second overtime, Storm coach Brian Agler called simpler plays for his exhausted team, and then Bird ignited the crowd of 8,479 with her signature three-pointers.
It was a twist for Bird after not playing the final four minutes of Seattle’s 78-70 defeat in Game 1.
“We played better in flow as a team than we probably have all season,” Jackson said. “And we showed our defense can change games. Our defense saved us.”
The series moves back to Minneapolis with the decisive Game 3 on Tuesday (6 p.m., ESPN2). The winner plays Los Angeles in the Western Conference finals.
Storm forward Camille Little got Seattle in position for its last-minute heroics. Like a game-winning touchdown run through the gut of a defense, Little caught a pass at the top of the key and drove a straight line to the hoop to score a go-ahead basket at 67-65 with 3:10 left.
It took nearly two minutes for Minnesota to find a way to respond. Then Jackson, a three-time MVP who finished with nine points on 4-for-17 shooting with a season-high 14 rebounds, kept the season alive for Seattle.
Seattle has either won a championship in its 10 postseason appearances (with a WNBA-record nine in a row) or lost in the opening round. All were with Jackson playing a pivotal role. Sunday, Jackson might have started off 0 for 6 from the field, but she compensated with aggressive defense.
“The hunger and desperation that they played with … they clearly didn’t want their season to end,” Reeve said.
Rebekkah Brunson had 22 points and 15 rebounds for Minnesota.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Percentages: FG .325, FT .813. Three-point goals: 3-16, .188 (Moore 2-7, Augustus 1-4, M.Wright 0-1, Whalen 0-2, Wiggins 0-2). Team rebounds: 11. Team turnovers: 15 (11 PTS). Blocked shots: 6 (McWilliams-Franklin 2, Augustus, Moore, Peters, M.Wright). Turnovers: 15 (Augustus 4, Brunson 3, Whalen 3, M.Wright 3, McWilliams-Franklin 2). Steals: 11 (Augustus 3, Whalen 2, M.Wright 2, Brunson, McWilliams-Franklin, Moore, Peters). Technical fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .403, FT .714. Three-point goals: 9-21, .429 (Bird 4-7, Stricklen 1-2, Thompson 1-2, T.Wright 1-2, Smith 1-3, Jackson 1-5). Team rebounds: 12. Team turnovers: 18 (19 PTS). Blocked shots: 3 (Jackson 2, Wauters). Turnovers: 16 (Bird 3, Thompson 3, T.Wright 3, Little 2, Smith 2, Stricklen 2, Jackson). Steals: 11 (Bird 4, Stricklen 3, T.Wright 2, Jackson, Smith). Technical fouls: Smith, 2:11 first; Jackson, 9:44 third.
|Minnesota||27||10||22||11||5||4 — 79|
|Seattle||18||18||17||17||5||11 — 86|
Attendance: 8,479 (9,686). Time: 2:45. Officials: Clarke Stevens, Michael Price, Brenda Pantoja.