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Losing altitude? Dallas Wings’ playoff hopes grow dim

An inside look at the match-up between the Dallas Wings and the Seattle Storm in their third meeting of the season, where the Wings fell for the first time to the Storm, 78-66.

Fred Williams Chris Poss - Swish Appeal

Seattle, WA — Dallas Wings Head Coach Fred Williams’ 100th win will have to wait once again, as Dallas falls for the ninth game in a row, losing to Seattle 78-66. As the Wings fell, their playoff hopes fell with them.

Any player knows that being in a position of “playing uphill,” involves focusing not on the overall jump in the standings that needs to occur, but instead focusing on each game like it’s the one that will make the difference.

In a game that was so vital for Dallas, the Wings definitely did come out of the starting gates as well as they should have. But that initial burst didn’t last long, as it was apparant that their overall focus was lacking both offensively and defensively, allowing Seattle to capitalize on second-chance opportunities and quick transition plays.

“This was a big game. Because it’s at home, because it’s against a team that, if we would have lost, would have had the tie-breaker on us, also a team that is trying to get to the last playoff spot as well. This one was big,” Storm guard Sue Bird said.

The Wings were not able to accomplish much offensively in the first half, heading into the locker room down 11, 41-30 to the Storm. The most glaring — and alarming — stat for Dallas was its 8 turnovers.

The Storm, on the other hand, and on the other side of the court, performed like a well-oiled machine right. Their hustle, energy and effort plays continued to decimate Dallas, as they got many 50-50 balls, and caught the Wings off-guard on rebounds.

From a player’s standpoint, running through the underground hallways into the locker room after a disastrous first half, there’s only one thought in each player’s mind – coming out in the second half aggressive, and winning the first four minutes.

Dallas obviously had that agenda when they took the floor again for the second half, outscoring the Storm 24-13 in the third quarter and tying the game heading into the final 10 minutes.

Moreover, for the first time in the match-up, Dallas was capitalizing on second-chance points and limiting their turnovers to only one in the third quarter.

As the Wings continued to exude more efficiency, they still needed a player to galvanize them, as most teams need a player to step up in critical moments in the game. And that’s exactly what Plenette Pierson did for Dallas.

Pierson’s experience in close, tough games showed up at the right time for the Wings, as she worked hard to put up points for her team. However, her fight wouldn’t be enough, thanks to Seattle’s will to hold off their comeback.

This game showed more than just true grit in the final moments, but also showed Dallas’ tendencies through the season, and also what the Wings need to do in these last games: play aggressive from the beginning of the game.

After their initial burst of energy to start tonight, the Wings fell back into their slow and unpredictable tendencies, which has haunted them for the outset of their season.

“I think we started a little slow, and we weren’t all on the same page on defense,” Dallas Wings forward Glory Johnson said. “We’re going to keep working hard. We’ve got seven games left, and we’re going to keep pushing until the end. Regardless of a playoff run, we’re still going to play hard because that’s what we do.”

But even though Seattle won tonight, the same issues go for the Storm, a team that remains steady throughout, but yet has inconsistent flashes of excellence.

The steady factor tonight for the Storm would fall in Sue Bird’s hands, as she’s been so reliable throughout the season. As a teammate, having someone to count on is a tremendous asset to any program. From start to finish she sets the tone for the Storm and never relaxes.

The Wings were not able to complete the trifecta of wins after beating the Storm twice earlier in this season, before the Olympic Break commenced.

With this win, the Storm jumped a total of 2.5 games ahead of the Wings in the playoff standings, making the chances of Dallas finding a spot very slim.

If only the Wings would stop ground themselves.