BY SPNW Staff 02:56PM 09/18/2012

Bird likely to return to help halt Storm’s spiral

Game: Chicago Sky (13-18) at Seattle Storm (13-18). When: 7 p.m. Tuesday. Where: KeyArena.  Series: Chicago, 1-0. TV: None. Radio: 1090 AM

For the glass half-full crowd, the Storm in its most recent game almost beat the Connecticut Sun, a top-tier WNBA team, without injured stars Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird.

For the glass half-empty crowd, the Storm, losers of eight of its past 11, is waiting too long to gear up for the playoffs.

Guess how coach Brian Agler sees it prior to Tuesday’s game at Key Arena against Chicago?

“I thought it was a great effort and we definitely put ourselves in position to win the game,” said Agler, whose team had a four-point lead inside two minutes but lost, 60-58. “I feel bad for our team that we didn’t come through.”

He can feel a little better for them because Bird, dealing with a chronically sore flexor muscle in her left hip, thinks she can go. She had a similar injury in her right hip, which was surgically repaired in the off-season.

“I feel a lot better than I did five days ago, so to me that’s a huge plus,” Bird said after Monday’s practice. “Working out yesterday and then again today, it didn’t feel any worse — also a huge plus. I’m looking forward to playing.”

Jackson is another story. She was scheduled to have an MRI done Tuesday on her strained hamstring, which has bothered her since before the Olympics. Her status awaits test results. She has missed the past two games, Bird the past three.

The Sky end a road trip with its third game in six days Tuesday, having lost in Los Angeles and won in Phoenix Sunday 86-55. Chicago is on the edge of playoff elimination in the East and needs the win to stay in the hunt. A Chicago loss and a New York win Tuesday would end the Sky’s hopes.

Shay Murphy Sunday scored 20 of her career-high 22 points in the first half as Chicago won for the fourth time in six games.

The Storm, which has tied the franchise record with four consecutive losses — done for the second time this season — is locked into the fourth and final playoff position, meaning a probable first-round match with the WNBA’s best team and defending champion, Minnesota, which met President Obama at the White House Tuesday.

The Storm has had at least 20 turnovers in all four losses, the first three of which averaged a 21-point margin of defeat. Chicago beat Seattle 74-58 on June 13 behind 17 points from Epiphanny Prince and 16 and 15 rebounds from Sylvia Fowles.

The Storm have two players who could reach scoring milestones Tuesday. Tina Thompson, already the league’s all time leading scorer at 6,993, can become the first player to 7,000 points. Jackson needs eight to reach 6,000, fourth on the all-time list.

Coaches: Agler is in his fifth season with the Storm. Pokey Chatman, also the Sky’s GM, is in her second year.


Date Opponent W/L Score Rec.
5/18/12 vs. Los Angeles L 66-72 0-1
5/22/12 at Los Angeles L 61-74 0-2
5/27/12 at Minnesota L 71-84 0-3
6/1/12 vs. Tulsa W 76-58 1-3
6/3/12 at Los Angeles L 65-67 1-4
6/6/12 at Minnesota L 55-79 1-5
6/9/12 at San Antonio L 67-80 1-6
6/13/12 at Chicago L 58-74 1-7
6/15/12 at Tulsa W 86-73 2-7
6/17/12 vs. Minnesota W 65-62 3-7
6/22/12 vs. San Antonio W 82-76 4-7
6/24/12 vs. Washington W 72-55 5-7
6/26/12 at Washington W 79-71 6-7
6/30/12 at New York L 59-77 6-8
7/1/12 at Connecticut W 89-83 7-8
7/7/12 at Los Angeles L 59-83 7-9
7/8/12 vs. Phoenix W 83-68 8-9
7/11/12 vs. Atlanta L 59-70 8-10
7/13/12 at Phoenix W 83-64 9-10
8/16/12 vs. Phoenix W 72-58 10-10
8/18/12 vs. Los Angeles L 71-82 10-11
8/21/12 vs. Minnesota L 73-86 10-12
8/23/12 vs. Indiana L 66-68 10-13
8/26/12 vs. New York W 84-66 11-13
8/30/12 vs. Phoenix L 68-74 11-14
9/6/12 vs. Tulsa W 101-74 12-14
9/8/12 at Tulsa W 89-66 13-14
9/11/12 at Atlanta L 77-61 13-15
9/12/12 at Indiana L 48-72 13-16
9/14/12 at San Antonio L 66-90 13-17
9/16/12 vs. Connecticut L 58-60 13-18
9/18/12 vs. Chicago
9/21/12 vs. San Antonio
9/23/12 at Phoenix


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