A discombobulated regular season came to successful end for the Storm, finishing with a 71-57 win in Phoenix Sunday afternoon, the third win in a row to help build a little momentum for the WNBA playoffs starting Friday.
Coach Brian Agler kept the minutes down for Lauren Jackson (12) and Sue Bird (19) against the helpless Mercury, which finished with seven losses in a row as part of a franchise-worst 27-loss season.
In beating the Diana Taurasi-less Mercury for the fifth time in six games, the Storm was led by 14 points from Camille Little. Bird had 13 points, five rebounds and five assists and Katie Smith had 10 points. Jackson, who became the fourth player to pass the 6,000-point milestone Friday, had four points and four rebounds.
The Storm began poorly, with nearly as many turnovers (10) as points when the Mercury led 16-11 after one quarter. But a 16-0 Storm run, led by Little, to go up 32-22 late in the second quarter put Seattle in control for the duration.
Despite the Storm's final three wins by an average of 13 points, it still finished with a losing record (16-18) for the first time since 2001 and the first time ever in making the playoffs. Jackson's absence for the first half of the season, to train with Australia's Olympic team, was the biggest hurt. She and Bird, a U.S. Olympian, have struggled to get in sync upon their WNBA returns.
Without Jackson, the Storm began 1-7 and was better only than the West's weakest, Phoenix and Tulsa, settling into the final playoff seed by mid-season.
The No. 4-seeded Storm drew the top-seeded and defending champion Minnesota Lynx (27-7), who took the season series 3-1. They played the Lynx three times in the season's first 10 games, losing the first two in Minneapolis by 13 and 24 points, then winning June 17 at home, 65-62. Th3 final regular season meeting was Aug. 21 in Seattle, Minnesota winning easily, 86-73.
The best-of-three series begins Friday in Minneapolis, followed a 6 p.m. Sunday game at KeyArena. If needed, a third game will be in Minneapolis Oct. 2.
Tickets for the playoff game are available at StormBasketball.com.
SEATTLE STORM 2012 FINAL REGULAR-SEASON 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||W||84-75||15-18|