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Seattle Storm don’t blink after taking lead late in fourth, turn 19-point comeback into comfortable win

Sue Bird orchestrated a beautiful play that ended with a Jewell Loyd triple to put the Seattle Storm ahead of the Minnesota Lynx by three late. The Storm bulldozed their way through the rest of the game.

Seattle Storm v Minnesota Lynx
Jewell Loyd
Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

After rebounding a Crystal Dangerfield missed layup, Sue Bird raced out in transition, faked a pass to a cutting Jordin Canada, then dished it to Jewell Loyd between the left wing and the left corner for a triple over Kayla McBride’s close out, which was late thanks to the fake.

That was with almost exactly three minutes to go and it gave the Seattle Storm a 78-75 lead over the Minnesota Lynx on Thursday night at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn. The Storm hadn’t led since 1:38 into the contest and had trailed by as much as 19. The score extended the Storm’s run to 11-0, but they were far from done as they pushed it to 17-0 and finally 23-3 over the final 4:33 for a 90-78 win that improved their record to 2-1.

It was the third-largest comeback in Storm history.

Bird said she had a special message for her teammates after Breanna Stewart tied the game at 75 with two free throws at 3:22 remaining.

“I remember on the way back, yelling to our team ‘it’s tied now,’” Bird said postgame in a tone that suggested she had been encouraging her teammates not to blow it. “Because sometimes what happens in these games, we’ve all seen it, you work so hard to get to the point where you cut it close, you tie it, and then you kind of run out of steam. It took too much energy to get to that point, you run out of it.

So I just yelled ‘alright we’re tied now,’ which means ‘change your demeanor.’ You don't have to exert the energy to play catch up anymore, now it’s about making plays to win the game. So I just thought we did a great job of getting the stops and the scores when we needed them.”

“Sometimes you don't get over that hump where all of a sudden now you’re turning a deficit into an advantage,” said Storm coach Dan Hughes. “But today we sustained the momentum past gaining the lead. And aside from fouling a couple times on their drives, we were pretty efficient at both ends. We offensively were scoring, and you can see 37 points in the fourth quarter. But defensively we were solid.”

Bird finished with 21 points and eight assists after being held scoreless in Seattle’s 96-80 loss to the Las Vegas Aces on Tuesday. She was 5-of-9 from deep.

Loyd was 5-of-8 from beyond the arc with a game-high 23 points to go along with four assists and three steals.

Loyd’s nine points in the first quarter proved to be important even though the Storm trailed 26-16 after the opening frame.

“I think (I was) just trying to get a rhythm,” Loyd said when asked if she was thinking about trying to keep the game close knowing that Stewart, who was held scoreless in the first, could get hot later. “I think that’s the biggest thing. It’s just trying to stay patient with our shots. I mean we’re not gonna always shoot well, but just staying patient. I knew eventually we would try to cut it down.”

Canada contributed 16 points to the winning cause while Stewart added 13 points and seven rebounds, and Candice Dupree had 10 points.

Canada made a great interception and turned it into a layup on the other end that cut Minnesota’s lead to 75-73 with 3:50 to play.

Crystal Dangerfield scored 22 points and dished out six assists for the now 0-3 Lynx after she was also held scoreless on Tuesday. Sylvia Fowles started 6-of-6 from the floor and scored 11 of her 20 points in the first quarter. She added nine boards.

Aerial Powers had 10 points, five rebounds and six assists in defeat.

A McBride trey with 2:23 to go in the second gave Minnesota its 19-point advantage.

The Storm have defeated the Lynx 10-straight times.