Game: San Antonio Silver Stars (20-12) at Seattle Storm (14-18). When: 7 p.m. Friday. Where: KeyArena. Series: San Antonio 2-1. TV: None. Radio: KPTK 1090 AM
Since the Storm is already locked into its first-round playoff match-up, the final two regular-season games are mostly meaningless -- unless the Storm has a desire to pull its act together.
Apparently they do, because Lauren Jackson sounds healthy enough to play this weekend. She practiced Thursday and her balky hamstring is expected to be good enough to go Friday night against the San Antonio Silver Stars on Fan Appreciation Night.
"I felt so much better," Jackson, who visited a specialist Tuesday and had a shot to relieve nerve pain, told the club's website. "I feel a thousand times better than I did the last couple of weeks. Already, I feel like I'm shooting better because I'm not compensating. Obviously, I was feeling it a bit."
But Jackson, who missed the last three games, won't be playing full time in the final two games of the regular season, which includes Sunday at Phoenix.
"I think we'll have a specific number in mind that we'll want to keep her at," coach Brian Agler said. "Probably it will be a little more on Sunday than it is on Friday. It's almost like a budget. You use her for short amounts of time in multiple quarters."
The goal is to get Jackson and Bird, who also missed two games with a hip injury, ready for the playoffs. The fourth-seeded Storm have drawn the No. 1-seeded and defending champion Minnesota Lynx (26-6) in a best-of three, first-round series in Minneapolis starting Sept. 28. Game 2 is 6 p.m. Sept. 30 at the Key. If the Storm manage a win in either, Game 3 will be in Minneapolis Oct. 2.
The Stars, the West's third seed, will play the second-seeded Los Angeles Sparks in the other conference semifinal. The Sparks beat the Lynx Thursday night, 92-76. The Storm two weeks ago clinched their WNBA-record ninth consecutive playoff berth.
The Storm broke a four-game losing streak Tuesday with a wire-to-wire 75-60 win over Chicago. But even two wins this weekend can't avoid Seattle's first losing regular season since 2001. Missing Bird and Jackson, the Storm lost Sept. 14 in San Antonio, 90-66.
Tickets for the playofff are available at StormBasketball.com.
Coaches: Brian Agler is in his fifth season with the Storm. Dan Hughes is in his seventh season as coach/GM in San Antonio.
SEATTLE STORM 2012 SCHEDULE/RESULTS
|5/18/12||vs. Los Angeles||L||66-72||0-1|
|5/22/12||at Los Angeles||L||61-74||0-2|
|6/3/12||at Los Angeles||L||65-67||1-4|
|6/9/12||at San Antonio||L||67-80||1-6|
|6/22/12||vs. San Antonio||W||82-76||4-7|
|6/30/12||at New York||L||59-77||6-8|
|7/7/12||at Los Angeles||L||59-83||7-9|
|8/18/12||vs. Los Angeles||L||71-82||10-11|
|8/26/12||vs. New York||W||84-66||11-13|
|9/14/12||at San Antonio||L||66-90||13-17|
|9/21/12||vs. San Antonio||---||---||---|