The Seattle Storm now sit third in the WNBA after defeating the Chicago Sky 79-76 on Friday in Seattle.
Five different Storm players scored in double figures. Jordan Canada’s 17 points led the team, and she added six rebounds, three assists and three steals. Natasha Howard shot only 3-of-14 from the field but got to the free-throw line nine times, which helped her pour in 14 points. She was one rebound short of a double-double as well.
Diamond DeShields had a game-high 19 points but shot 0-of-5 from beyond the arc. Jantel Lavender earned a double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds) in the defeat.
One game separates the Storm from the second-place Washington Mystics and they’re 1.5 games off the Connecticut Sun.
The Game in a GIF
- Canada was the player selected for the traditional pregame interview on the Storm broadcast. She mentioned how playing overseas helped build her confidence and speed up her learning curve in the WNBA.
Defensively, Canada is soooooo good. Her steal on DeShields in the fourth quarter is absurd.
Courtney Vandersloot only had two points on 1-of-6 shooting, and Canada is a big reason for that as well since the second-year guard was often matched up with Vandersloot. In general, Seattle had an 89.8 defensive rating with Canada on the floor.
And offensively, Canada regularly had success against a Sky defense that’s second in opponent field-goal percentage in the restricted area (.541), per WNBA.com. Here’s her shot chart from the night.
Canada’s mid-range game wasn’t really working, but it didn’t matter because she was having so much success inside.
A little over 38 percent of Canada’s field-goal attempts have come within five feet, according to WNBA.com. That’s up from almost 29 percent in 2018. Until she can become a more efficient shooter, driving to the basket is Canada’s best recipe to contribute as a scorer.
- Although the Sky out-rebounded the Storm 37-34, Seattle dominated the offensive glass. That allowed the reigning WNBA champions to gain an 18-8 edge in second-chance points. Howard had four offensive rebounds, while Canada and Mercedes Russell had three boards apiece on the offensive end.
- We tend to think of Sami Whitcomb as a long-range shooter exclusively because roughly 80 percent of her shots in the WNBA have been three-pointers.
With an injury to Jewell Loyd, Whitcomb earned the first start of her career. That meant she had the ball in her hands a little more as the secondary playmaker for the first unit.
She only had one assist yet didn’t turn the ball over once. And she flashed some of the scoring ability that helped her average 13.2 points in the French league.
- The same was broadly true of Mercedes Russell as well.
The second-year center hasn’t developed much of a face up game yet, with the bulk of her scoring opportunities coming off rebounds or touches in the post. When isolated against fellow bigs, though, she can blow by her defender and get to the basket.
With as big a leap as Russell has taken in 2019 compared to 2018, I’m half-expecting her to show up next season playing like Stephen Curry: pulling up from the logo and knocking down three-pointers.
- It’s tough to blame Alysha Clark too much for DeShields’ big night. Consistency is still an issue for the second-year guard, but she’s an MVP in the making. A defender can’t do too much when DeShields gets this kind of extension on her jump shot.
Clark deserves some credit in keeping Cheyenne Parker in check.
Parker had 18 points off the bench in the last meeting between the Storm and Sky, and her performance was critical in stopping Seattle’s comeback attempt. On Friday, Parker only had six points.
- Howard is firmly in that Breanna Stewart territory where her baseline performance is still so high. You watch the game and Howard is missing shot after shot. Then you look down at the stat sheet and realize she’s approaching a double-double.
How many players have a “bad” game and finish with 14 and nine?
- This point isn’t lost on Storm fans, but we still need to sit back and appreciate Seattle continuing to rack up wins despite being now without three of its top four scorers from a season ago.
“It just speaks to the character of each and every person on this team,” Clark said after the game, per the Seattle Times‘ Percy Allen. “We understand that injuries happen. We wish they would stop. We hope that was the last one, but we’re not just going to roll over and quit. That’s just not who we are as people. When you have a collective group of people that fight like that and have the fight within them, then anything is possible.”
The level of self-belief and perseverance on the Storm is off the charts. If Seattle actually earns a top-six finish this season, then Dan Hughes should be the Coach of the Year favorite.
- Whitcomb has a quick release and the kind of short memory that allows her to continue chucking from beyond the arc when she’s having a bad night.
Reining in that instinct isn’t a bad thing, especially when she’s struggling as much as she was Friday.
- Can I call a moratorium on any announcer uttering the phrase “oh no” or something similar during broadcasts? When Elise Woodward said, “Oh no. Ohhh” after Canada collided with DeShields in the fourth quarter, I thought Canada for sure suffered another injury.
Please, my nerves can only take so much panicking about the health of the Storm’s players.
This was the first game in a six-game home stand for the Storm, so beating the Sky was a great way to get that stretch started. The timing of this scheduling run couldn’t be much better as Seattle doesn’t have to worry about how travel time might impact a smaller roster being pushed to its physical limits.