BY SPNW Staff 08:58PM 10/02/2012

Storm season down to one play; Jackson misses

The final shot of the game was given to Lauren Jackson, the three-time WNBA most valuable player. This time, it became the final shot of the Seattle Storm’s tumultuous season because Jackson missed the 10-foot baseline jumper, which gave the Minnesota Lynx a harrowing 73-72 triumph Tuesday night in Minneapolis and a 2-1 playoff series victory.

Clearly worn out from a summer of international ball and a leg-nerve injury, Jackson missed six of seven field goals Tuesday after missing 13 of 17 Sunday in Seattle. But on an in-bounds play with 3.3 seconds left designed to get the ball to Sue Bird (19 points, 11 assists), Katie Smith instead went to Jackson, who had posted up. She turned into a Minnesota double-team  and her fadeaway clanged off the front of the rim, leaving a valiant Seattle effort a point short.

On the Lynx’s final possession, Lindsay Whalen missed an awkward runner and Jackson rebounded with 9.5 seconds left, but the Storm came up-court fairly slowly and, curiously, didn’t call the a timeout until 3.3 seconds remained, leaving time for little more than a catch-and-shoot.

The Storm, 2010 champions who set a WNBA record with its ninth consecutive postseason appearance, exited in the first round for the seventh time in eight seasons.

The first-round playoff ouster closed the Storm’s books at 17-20 for a season that began miserably at 1-7 and peaked with a dramatic 86-79 double overtime triumph in Game 2 at KeyArena. Despite the long game followed by a long flight Monday, the fourth-seeded Storm took it hard to the defending WNBA champs, who won the regular-season series 3-1.

An 8-2 Storm start faded quickly into a 22-14 deficit after one quarter. But the teams traded hot streaks that left Minnesota up 36-35 at halftime behind Maya Moore’s 17 points.

The Storm hung close the rest of the way, never falling behind more than six points but unable to take the lead. After Taj McWilliams-Franklin hit a short shot for a 73-69 lead with 1:10 left, Bird ignited dreams of another late-game comeback when she drained a three-point shot with 38 seconds left on an assist from Tanisha Wright and over the lunging defense of Minnesota’s Seimone Augustus.

It would be last time time Bird saw the ball.

In the scoring absence of Jackson, who hit her only field goal two minutes into the fourth quarter and finished with nine points and six rebounds in 31 minutes, Camille Little chipped in 17 points and Wright added nine.

Augustus had 14 of her game-high 21 points in the third quarter and Moore finished with 20. Unheralded Rebekkah Brunson, as she did Sunday, came up large late for the Lynx and finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. Point guard Whalen fell eight minutes into the game and played with a sprained left wrist, but the Storm was unable to exploit her one-handedness.

As the Storm return home for the off season, the Lynx move on to the Western Conference finals against the second-seeded Los Angeles Sparks.


YourThoughts

  • jafabian

    The club, to me, really needed that third presence on the court that they had with Swin Cash. They tried to compensate losing quality with quantity but it didn’t work. Lauren and Sue are NOT getting any younger. Can’t believe LJ only had 9 points. Again, they need to get that third scorer and a good bench player. The bench only contributed 7 points tonight and that won’t cut it. They need to be prepared to take up the slack when needed.

  • jafabian

    The club, to me, really needed that third presence on the court that they had with Swin Cash. They tried to compensate losing quality with quantity but it didn’t work. Lauren and Sue are NOT getting any younger. Can’t believe LJ only had 9 points. Again, they need to get that third scorer and a good bench player. The bench only contributed 7 points tonight and that won’t cut it. They need to be prepared to take up the slack when needed.

  • GuiltyBystander

    This is going to go down as a “lost” season for the Storm. Between LJ’s absence and ineffective return, the injuries, the aging of the roster with seven 30+ players and the overall lack of continuity and team chemistry, they did well to even make the playoffs (thanks to Phoenix having a very down year), let alone come to within a shot of reaching the Western semis. Did you watch that last 20-second timeout before LJ’s rushed shot? Talk about lack of coherence. She’d been bricking layups all night and with all due respect to her Hall of Fame career (LJ WILL land in Springfield), she was not the right player to take that last shot…Bird was.

    As much as Storm fans will hate to see it (or even admit it needs to happen), this team needs a huge makeover in the next year or two. The Jackson/Bird Era is drawing to a close (LJ in particular just looked shot this season although Birdie has at least a good year or two left) and it’s time to move on and build a new roster core. As you say, jafabian, the current edition ain’t getting any younger…or better.

    • art thiel

      Storm management can see fade better than we can, but they also know Jackson and Bird have drawing power. They were down 1,200 a game this year, and the league had its lowest attendance since it began. The money in the U.S. is so weak relative to the rest of the world that I could see LJ giving up the Storm. One of her Aussie teammates did. Can’t blame her.

  • GuiltyBystander

    This is going to go down as a “lost” season for the Storm. Between LJ’s absence and ineffective return, the injuries, the aging of the roster with seven 30+ players and the overall lack of continuity and team chemistry, they did well to even make the playoffs (thanks to Phoenix having a very down year), let alone come to within a shot of reaching the Western semis. Did you watch that last 20-second timeout before LJ’s rushed shot? Talk about lack of coherence. She’d been bricking layups all night and with all due respect to her Hall of Fame career (LJ WILL land in Springfield), she was not the right player to take that last shot…Bird was.

    As much as Storm fans will hate to see it (or even admit it needs to happen), this team needs a huge makeover in the next year or two. The Jackson/Bird Era is drawing to a close (LJ in particular just looked shot this season although Birdie has at least a good year or two left) and it’s time to move on and build a new roster core. As you say, jafabian, the current edition ain’t getting any younger…or better.

    • art thiel

      Storm management can see fade better than we can, but they also know Jackson and Bird have drawing power. They were down 1,200 a game this year, and the league had its lowest attendance since it began. The money in the U.S. is so weak relative to the rest of the world that I could see LJ giving up the Storm. One of her Aussie teammates did. Can’t blame her.

  • notaboomer

    misses 6 out of 7 times. give it to lj. she’s making like 100k, man.

    • art thiel

      She hit the big one at the end of reg Sunday. But her legs aren’t right. She can barely jump. Maybe it’s fixable, and maybe it’s too many hard miles.

  • notaboomer

    misses 6 out of 7 times. give it to lj. she’s making like 100k, man.

    • art thiel

      She hit the big one at the end of reg Sunday. But her legs aren’t right. She can barely jump. Maybe it’s fixable, and maybe it’s too many hard miles.

      • jafabian

        That’s what I’m thinking.

  • jafabian

    At this point Lauren needs to look at her career and ask herself if it’s wise to continue playing overseas and make a decsion on when and where to play. I think she plays in Europe/Russia, Australia and the WNBA. Something needs to give. Sue will have to think about that as well. What the club needs to do is swing some sort of deal for a high draft pick. They’d probaby have to give up Sue or Lauren for that though, or take a page from the Mariners and look overseas for some good talent.

    • art thiel

      The money is overseas, not here. She should give up WNBA.

  • jafabian

    At this point Lauren needs to look at her career and ask herself if it’s wise to continue playing overseas and make a decsion on when and where to play. I think she plays in Europe/Russia, Australia and the WNBA. Something needs to give. Sue will have to think about that as well. What the club needs to do is swing some sort of deal for a high draft pick. They’d probaby have to give up Sue or Lauren for that though, or take a page from the Mariners and look overseas for some good talent.

    • art thiel

      The money is overseas, not here. She should give up WNBA.

  • GuiltyBystander

    If it comes down to the money with LJ, she’ll stick with Europe. Women’s hoops players make great coin over there, especially Russia. I suppose the major question she faces is whether she needs the money badly enough to let it be the deciding factor in where she is next year. Nothing wrong with that because players have only so much in them but after ten years, she presumably should be set for life and be able to pick and choose where she wants to play.

    Still, when you realize the only players under 27 at the end of the season were Shekinna Stricklen and Alysha Clark, that’s pretty sobering. Tightening up the player rotation with an aging roster might have worked against Agler because that was one exhausted team on the floor at the end of last night’s game.

    • jafabian

      Depends how long the Euro season is. If the WNBA makes nearly as much money but is a lot less time and less travel to Australia then I can see her choosing the WNBA. Especially if she still plays for Team Australia.

      • art thiel

        She’s done with the Opals too.

    • art thiel

      They overplayed the veteran angle, but it nearly worked. Bird and LJ had a lot of emotion invested in the Olympics. Th WNBA is a comedown after that. Too many masters, but I don’t blame them for wringing out every last minute.

  • GuiltyBystander

    If it comes down to the money with LJ, she’ll stick with Europe. Women’s hoops players make great coin over there, especially Russia. I suppose the major question she faces is whether she needs the money badly enough to let it be the deciding factor in where she is next year. Nothing wrong with that because players have only so much in them but after ten years, she presumably should be set for life and be able to pick and choose where she wants to play.

    Still, when you realize the only players under 27 at the end of the season were Shekinna Stricklen and Alysha Clark, that’s pretty sobering. Tightening up the player rotation with an aging roster might have worked against Agler because that was one exhausted team on the floor at the end of last night’s game.

    • jafabian

      Depends how long the Euro season is. If the WNBA makes nearly as much money but is a lot less time and less travel to Australia then I can see her choosing the WNBA. Especially if she still plays for Team Australia.

      • art thiel

        She’s done with the Opals too.

    • art thiel

      They overplayed the veteran angle, but it nearly worked. Bird and LJ had a lot of emotion invested in the Olympics. Th WNBA is a comedown after that. Too many masters, but I don’t blame them for wringing out every last minute.