Seattle Storm Game Review: Island Life

Screen Shot 2017-07-28 at 10.09.00 PMThe Seattle Storm picked up another big win Friday against the Connecticut Sun, handing the Sun their third straight loss in an 103-92 victory.

Breanna Stewart nearly had a double-double, scoring 23 points and grabbing nine rebounds, while Natasha Howard had a team-high 25 points. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis also delivered 18 points off the bench to make up for inefficient performances by Sue Bird and Jewell Loyd, who combined to shoot 6-of-25.

Although the Sun only shot 8-of-26 from beyond the arc, they had a lot of success inside. Chiney Ogwumike had 30 points on 13-of-16 shooting, while Jasmine Thomas poured in 29 points.

After Friday, the Storm now have wins over four of the top six teams in the WNBA and own the third-best record (8-3) in the league.

The Game in a GIF

Ogwumike FoulThe Storm were sputtering a bit toward the end, and this foul by Chiney Ogwumike allowed Breanna Stewart to get to the line and make it a seven-point game. More importantly, that was Ogwumike’s sixth foul, so Connecticut lost its high scorer as it needed to make a last-ditch attempt to come back and try to force overtime.

The Good

  • It has been really fun to watch Natasha Howard go from a perceived rebounding/defensive specialist to a high-volume scorer. Howard has even reached the point where the threat of her scoring is enough to pull the defense out of position. Here she is cutting to the basket and dragging Jasmine Thomas with her, which leaves Sue Bird open behind the three-point line:Sue Bird Three-Pointer Natasha Howard PickHoward hasn’t been shy about spotting up from deep, either, and when she’s hitting this shot, the Storm can be unstoppable in the pick and roll:Natasha Howard Three Pointer Off Pick
  • Breanna Stewart Before Tiffany Hayes Yanked Her Hair: .256 three-point percentage
    Breanna Stewart After Tiffany Hayes Yanked Her Hair: .667 three-point percentage
    How’s that for advanced analytics?
  • Real estate on Kaleena Mosqueda-LewIsland is flying off the market. Her 18 points were her highest since her rookie year in 2018, and most importantly, she wasn’t overly reliant on the three-pointer for her big night. Mosqueda-Lewis is rightly utilized as a three-point specialist, but her three-point attempt rate was hovering close to 60 percent entering Friday, which might be going too far in that direction. Mosqueda-Lewis was content to step inside the three-point line if it set her up with a better shot opportunity.KML Corner JumperWith Loyd far from her best, Mosqueda-Lewis’ scoring off the bench was critical for the Storm.
  • Jordin Canada missed Friday’s game as a result of the ankle injury she suffered last Tuesday against the Chicago Sky. In her place, Noelle Quinn played a little over 14 minutes and did very well to run the second unit. Quinn finished with five assists and zero turnovers.
  • Mercedes Russell only played 6:33 but continued to make a strong account for herself, posting five points and three rebounds. Russell’s effort level really jumped out, as she’s well aware of the fact she needs to make the most of every opportunity afforded to her.Mercedes Russell Offensive ReboundsThis will sound somewhat patronizing but isn’t meant to be: Simply playing hard is about all that should be expected of Russell in her rookie season. The Storm’s frontcourt is pretty much set, especially when Crystal Langhorne is healthy again, so Russell can only climb so high in the team’s rotation for the time being.
    At the very least, Russell making it hard for Dan Hughes and Seattle’s coaching staff to ignore her, though, and she could be a long-term replacement for Langhorne, an impending free agent, based on her performance in 2018.

The Bad

  • Jewell Loyd made her first two shots inside the opening two minutes of the game and proceeded to go the rest of the game without hitting a field goal. Loyd’s five rebounds and four assists ensured she impacted the game positively in other ways, and it’s a good sign for Seattle’s overall health when it can beat the Sun despite an off night from Loyd. Still, these are the games where Loyd needs to deliver.
  • Likewise, Bird had another game in which she was unable to find her shooting stroke. Her .353 field-goal percentage and 29.8 three-point percentages are both career lows so far. Although Bird has been an excellent playmaker and floor general in 2018, her inefficient shooting is bringing down her overall offensive value.

The Ugly

  • This was a game to forget for Sami Whitcomb. She played just 4:44 in the game and missed all three of her three-point attempts. Whitcomb’s quick trigger is definitely a strength, and having a short memory can be beneficial for a shooter. But when you put the two together, it can make for a night like Whitcomb experienced Friday, as she took a few ill-advised shots.

The Verdict

I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but the Storm continue to show they’re among the best teams in the WNBA. Seattle’s inability to stop the Sun in the paint is a bit worrying, all the more so since matchups against the Dallas Wings and Minnesota Lynx arrive later this month.

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