With playoff spot locked, Storm to rest stars

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by Sportspress Northwest Staff

SportsPressNorthwest

Posted on September 16, 2012 at 8:30 PM

Game: Connecticut Sun (22-9) at Seattle Storm (13-17). When: 6 p.m. Sunday. Where: KeyArena. Series: Seattle, 1-0. TV: KONG. Radio: 1090 AM

Apparently the Storm has decided to get well before attempting to get better.

Returning home Sunday after a a four-game road trip whose last three games were defeats by an average of 21 points, the Seattle Storm won't know until game time whether Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson will play.

With a fourth-place playoff spot locked in and no ability to move up, there is more incentive to get Bird (hip flexor) and Jackson (strained hamstring) healthy than to push them into meaningless games. Both sat out the 90-66 loss Friday in San Antonio, and Bird didn't play the previous game in Indiana.

"It's one of those things where I've had it for a really long time and it's about managing it," Bird said of her hip injury. "Luckily, we have an opportunity here where we've secured the fourth spot, we can't really catch the third spot and we're just trying to gear up for the playoffs.

"With that comes trying to play better as a team, as well as those that are banged up getting healthy."

The Storm has lost seven of their last 10, and the decision to not go full throttle for the last few games probably won't help attendance. The Storm is averaging 7,468 fans a game. down from last year's average of 8,649, and the lowest since 2003.

Meanwhile, the Connecticut Sun are fulyl engaged. The Eastern Conference leaders need a win to stay two games up on on Indiana in the race for homecourt advantage in the playoffs. The Sun and Fever meet Wednesday.

The Sun have been dealing with injuries as well. Forward Asjha Jones has not played since the Olympic break due to a strained Achilles.

League MVP candidate Tina Charles missed a game for the first time in her career Wednesday due to a groin strain, though Connecticut rolled to a 100-78 win in Phoenix. Charles returned Friday with 21 points and 13 rebounds, but she also had five of the Sun's 19 turnovers in a 93-82 loss at Los Angeles.

"This was a major disappointment tonight, because that's what you need to do better to win in the playoffs," coach Mike Thibault said after the game. "We've been a low turnover team all year, but in a couple of our losses, we've had bad turnover games that have come back to haunt us, and this is one of them."

The Storm played one of its best games of the season against the Sun July 1, beating Connecticut at home 89-83 when Charles missed 16 of 20 shots. The Sun have lost their last three games in Seattle.

Coaches: Brian Agler is in his fifth season with the Storm. Mike Thibault, two-time WNBA coach of the year,  is in his 10th season with the Sun, the longest serving coach in the league. He was a scout for the Seattle Sonics in 1997-98.

SEATTLE STORM 2012 SCHEDULE/RESULTS

DateOpponentW/LScoreRec.
5/18/12vs. Los AngelesL66-720-1
5/22/12at Los AngelesL61-740-2
5/27/12at MinnesotaL71-840-3
6/1/12vs. TulsaW76-581-3
6/3/12at Los AngelesL65-671-4
6/6/12at MinnesotaL55-791-5
6/9/12at San AntonioL67-801-6
6/13/12at ChicagoL58-741-7
6/15/12at TulsaW86-732-7
6/17/12vs. MinnesotaW65-623-7
6/22/12vs. San AntonioW82-764-7
6/24/12vs. WashingtonW72-555-7
6/26/12at WashingtonW79-716-7
6/30/12at New YorkL59-776-8
7/1/12at ConnecticutW89-837-8
7/7/12at Los AngelesL59-837-9
7/8/12vs. PhoenixW83-688-9
7/11/12vs. AtlantaL59-708-10
7/13/12at PhoenixW83-649-10
8/16/12vs. PhoenixW72-5810-10
8/18/12vs. Los AngelesL71-8210-11
8/21/12vs. MinnesotaL73-8610-12
8/23/12vs. IndianaL66-6810-13
8/26/12vs. New YorkW84-6611-13
8/30/12vs. PhoenixL68-7411-14
9/6/12vs. TulsaW101-7412-14
9/8/12at TulsaW89-6613-14
9/11/12at AtlantaL77-6113-15
9/12/12at IndianaL48-7213-16
9/14/12at San AntonioL66-9013-17
9/16/12vs. Connecticut---------
9/18/12vs. Chicago---------
9/21/12vs. San Antonio---------
9/23/12at Phoenix---------

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