The Seattle Storm lost to the Chicago Sky for the second time this season, falling 78-71 on Sunday in Chicago.
The first quarter doomed the Storm as they fell behind 29-13, a deficit that ballooned to 26 points midway through the second quarter. In the second half Seattle looked like it might pull together an improbable comeback, but the gap was too large to overcome.
Jewell Loyd and Natasha Howard each scored 20 points. Jordin Canada had seven points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Cheyenne Parker was the standout performer for the Sky, coming off the bench to post 18 points and 11 rebounds. The Storm did a good job of limiting Allie Quigley’s impact, holding her to four points, while Diamond DeShields was 3-of-11 for seven points.
Offensively, though, Seattle simply wasn’t good enough.
Following an ugly loss to the Minnesota Lynx, the Seattle Storm rebounded with a commanding 82-66 win over the Atlanta Dream on Friday night.
Natasha Howard led all scorers with 19 points and added 14 rebounds, four assists, two steals and three blocks to an excellent all-around night. Jordin Canada chipped in with 12 points and seven assists, while Jewell Loyd finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and four dimes.
Tiffany Hayes battled foul trouble early on and never found her groove, scoring nine points on 2-of-4 shooting. Renee Montgomery had a night to forget as well, shooting 1-of-6 for three points.
The Seattle Storm opened their WNBA title defense with a 77-68 win over the Phoenix Mercury on Saturday.
Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart missed the game due to injuries, while Alysha Clark rested after recently returning from France.
Natasha Howard led the way with a double-double (21 points, 16 rebounds) and added five steals and three blocks. Jordin Canada had 16 points and six assists, while Jewell Loyd poured in 17 points.
DeWanna Bonner did her best to almost single-handedly carry the Mercury across the line. She had a game-high 31 points, but Brittney Griner (18 points) was the only other Phoenix player to finish in double figures.
By any number of metrics, the 2018 season was the best of Loyd’s WNBA career. She was an All-Star for the first time and set personal highs in win shares (4.2), win shares per 40 minutes (.164) and net rating (14.1). She also had a .550 true shooting percentage and .501 effective field-goal percentage, both of which were career highs.
The way in which Loyd adapted her game to suit the Storm’s needs was particularly notable.
Loyd’s 24.4 usage rate was her lowest since her rookie year in 2015, and she attempted the fewest shots (12.6) since then as well. Whereas scoring accounted for a large chunk of Loyd’s contributions through her first three seasons, she focused on helping the Storm in other areas of the game in 2018. She averaged 4.6 rebounds—more than a full rebound better than her previous career high—and her defensive rating fell to 97.6 after hitting 104.7 and 103.3 in 2016 and 2017.
Sue Bird captured the third WNBA title of her career as the Seattle Storm climbed to the WNBA’s summit earlier than expected. Along the way, Bird rolled back the years with a stunningly efficient 2018 season.
Sue Bird By the Numbers
Sometimes in sports, the true gravity of a performance or one specific moment is only truly appreciated with the passage of time. In rare instances, you witness something special and immediately understand its larger place in history.
When adding it together with the rest of their offseason, the Seattle Storm couldn’t have been more on-brand on draft night.
Seattle selected 6’4″ Australian forward Ezi Magbegor with the 12th overall pick. The 19-year-old averaged 55.8 percent from the field, with all of her 120 shot attempts coming from inside the arc. She also appeared in four games for Australia at the 2018 FIBA World Cup, averaging 7.6 points and 3.8 boards.
In the Storm’s official press release about the 2019 draft, general manager Alisha Valavanis confirmed Magbegor won’t actually join the Storm until 2020.
The Storm’s roster appears to be set for the most part, so Magbegor being a nonfactor for the moment opens up a spot for somebody who might have otherwise lost out ahead of the 2019 WNBA season.