EVERETT – Sitting at a postgame news conference after the Storm’s 84-77 WNBA victory over Minnesota, Alysha Clark scanned the stat sheet and gasped at Seattle’s season-high 20 turnovers.
“Whew,” she exclaimed. “Wow.
“It felt like we had a lot, but not that many. Obviously for us, we’re still trying to learn each other on offense because we have new players in new roles. … To know that we had 20 turnovers and we’re still able to win tonight is really great. It’s just going to take time for us to jell and those are going to get cut down as the season goes along.”
At times Tuesday night, the Storm was its own worst enemy while carelessly spraying the ball all over the court, which resulted in 24 points for the Lynx.
Despite the giveaways and squandering a 12-point lead in the third quarter, Seattle (3-2) rallied at the end and pulled away in the final four minutes to hand Minnesota (3-1) its first loss.
The Storm overcame its sloppy ballhandling due to an otherwise efficient offense that shot 59.3% from the field and 53.8% (7 of 13) on three-pointers.
Seattle also outrebounded Minnesota 28-17 and forced the Lynx into 14 turnovers.
“Luckily we shot nearly 60 percent (and) that probably negated some of those turnovers,” interim coach Gary Kloppenburg said. “We rebounded the ball really well and that was one of the major keys against them, to really hit the glass hard and negate one of their strengths.
“I thought when we didn’t turn it over, we executed really well tonight. We got good shots. We were knocking down our open shots.”
On most nights, Kloppenburg can live with 12 or so turnovers, considering the Storm is a team that likes to run.
But Seattle had 12 turnovers at halftime when it took a 49-39 lead into the break.
“We play fast,” said guard Jewell Loyd, who finished with a season-high 19 points and four turnovers. “It happens sometimes. … A little bit more focus. Maybe slowing down a little bit. I think most of them were aggressive turnovers and just trying to push it.”
Storm point guard Jordin Canada alternated from sensational to self-destructing — sometimes within the same possession — while finishing with a career-high 17 points, seven assists and five turnovers.
The second-year point guard was forced to match her career-high with 34 minutes due to the absences of backup guard Shavonte Zellous and perennial All-Star Sue Bird, who both sat out because of knee injuries.
“We’re playing her a lot of minutes,” Kloppenburg said. “Some of those turnovers were from fatigue. … Right now, we need to play her heavy minutes with the lineups that we have. She’s young, I think she can handle it.”
Trailing 75-74 with 4:12 left, Canada took over briefly on the defensive end to ignite a 10-2 run for the Storm to secure the win.
The 5-foot-6 guard, who leads the WNBA with 17 steals, swiped a pass from Odyssey Sims and raced ahead for a layup that sent the crowd of 5,711 at Angel of the Winds Arena into a frenzy.
After Loyd sank a midrange jumper, Canada collected another steal that led to Mercedes Russell’s layup and an 82-75 lead with 2:08 left.
And Canada capped the spurt with a couple of free throws in the final minute.
“In crunch time tonight, we locked in defensively,” Kloppenburg said. “We kept them in front of us. We did a great job on Sims all night. She only had five points. I thought down the stretch our defensive intensity was key.”
Kloppenburg tweaked the lineup with Clark, who made her first start of the season and finished with 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting.
Seattle also received a notable defensive performance from second-year center Russell, who started for the first time in her career and held All-Star Sylvia Fowles to two points in the second half.
Rookie Napheesa Collier led the Lynx with 17 points while Fowles had 16, Damiris Dantas 14 and Danielle Robinson 11.
The Storm begins an 11-day, four-game road trip Sunday in Chicago, intent on cleaning up the miscues from Tuesday night.
“You can’t turn the ball over 20 times on the road,” Clark said. “In this league, you can’t do that. … Valuing the ball on the road is going to be key for us. That will definitely be a point of emphasis for sure.”
Bird rejoined the Storm after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on her left knee last week. The 38-year-old point guard is sidelined indefinitely.