We had a brief discussion in our game thread the other day about whether Skylar Diggins and the Tulsa Shock would get their first win before Brittney Griner and the Phoenix Mercury.
Tonight we got our answer as the Shock went into KeyArena and defeated the Seattle Storm, 67-58.
Ultimately, this game wasn't necessarily about Diggins, though she looked more poised tonight in scoring 12 points on 3-for-8 shooting and 6-for-6 free throw shooting. The story, was in part the Storm's inability to simply knock down a 3-point shot - often open - when they needed it.
Storm held without a 3-pointer for the third time in franchise history (last in 2008).— Kevin Pelton (@kpeltonWBB) June 8, 2013
And then late in the game - when extending possessions really mattered - the Storm's inability to control the boards that even had injured star Lauren Jackson trying to lead her team from afar.
Glory Johnson led the way with a game-high 9 rebounds to go with a game-high 17 points (tied with Storm forward Tina Thompson) and newly re-acquired center Courtney Paris came off the bench to grab seven rebounds in just 8:31. As a team, Tulsa outrebounded Seattle by a margin of 36-26.
If there were two things that stood out as potential problems for the Storm without their injured stars before the season, those were it - poor rebounding and potential scoring droughts. Tonight was just an example of a team when they were particularly victimized by those weaknesses against an athletic, scrappy team that was just looking to get a win.
Though they've dug quite a hole for themselves at 1-4, that's the kind of early-season performance - without Liz Cambage, Tiffany Jackson-Jones, or Riquna Williams - that had people talking about this as a playoff team.
"It's for sure a morale booster," said Shock guard Candice Wiggins, who scored 13 points on 3-for-5 3-point shooting. "And it's nice because it's our first win against a Western Conference team, and that's really important in terms of the playoffs. Seattle is going to be tough so to get the win is huge ... it's a bonus. And it's nice to win before a back-to-back, too."