SAN ANTONIO — For the second time this month in the start of back-to-back games against San Antonio, the Storm stumbled out of the blocks.
Seattle missed a chance to win a season-best fourth straight game — and take a huge step toward clinching the final playoff spot in the Western Conference — by losing 70-64 to San Antonio on Sunday at AT&T Center.
With plenty on the line, Seattle was in an 8-0 deficit to start the game. The Storm turned the ball over four times in its first six possessions, took almost five minutes to make a shot from the floor and never really recovered.
“That start,” Storm guard Temeka Johnson said, “how we started and dug a hole a little too big for ourselves. It came back to bite us. The hungrier team won.”
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It’s happened before. In the first back-to-back between these teams earlier this month, Seattle also dropped the first game at home (by 21) before coming back to win a close one two nights later. The Storm (13-14) and Silver Stars (10-17) play again Tuesday night in San Antonio.
Perhaps now the Silver Stars have the Storm’s attention. Seattle’s lead over San Antonio in the standings for the final playoff spot is three games with seven to play. The season series is tied 2-2.
“It’s a big game on Tuesday,” Storm coach Brian Agler said.
Shenise Johnson had 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead San Antonio.
Before that first quarter was done in this game, Seattle had turned the ball over eight times. The Storm was just 2 of 8, and by the end of the game the starters barely cracked 30 percent from the floor (13 for 43).
The Storm’s strongest game came from the bench, where Noelle Quinn jumped in for 30 minutes and scored a team-high 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting.
It was Quinn, in fact, who ignited a nice run for the Storm. Trailing by 15 points with four minutes to go in the third quarter, Quinn made a three-pointer and followed with a steal. That set up Shekinna Stricklen with a fast-break layup, and the Storm cut the lead to single digits for the first time since late in the first half when Stricklen hit a midrange jumper to make it 46-38.
Stricklen made another basket and set up a score to make it 46-42, but that was it.
“Even when we made that run,” Agler said, “San Antonio answered by getting to the free-throw line, hitting a big shot or getting an offensive rebound.”