The Seattle Storm couldn’t really afford to drop a game to the Minnesota Lynx Wednesday night with the battle for the fourth and final home court-advantage seed still ongoing. So they came out of the gates with a 12-0 run and went on to lead by as much as 29 in an 89-77 win at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle.
“I think it was huge,” Breanna Stewart said of the great start. “I think that we wanted to come out and obviously punch first, knowing that Minnesota is fighting for a playoff spot. They’re really trying to do whatever they can to get wins, especially in this final stretch.”
BEHIND THE BACK BY @gabbywilliams15!!! #TakeCover pic.twitter.com/75qJ9vzXKn— Seattle Storm (@seattlestorm) August 4, 2022
It’s hard to win a scoring title, but Stewart has been a model of consistency. She has scored in double figures in every game this season and has scored 17-plus in each of her last 10, including a season-high 33 on Wednesday. Her career high remains the 38 she scored in just her 15th career game on June 28, 2016. She is still 2022’s scoring leader at 21.5 points per game and added eight rebounds, five assists and two steals on Wednesday. After the game, she was asked about the MVP race.
“To be honest, the accolades are nice, but they’re just gravy, they’re icing on the cake. Right now the priority is getting wins and doing whatever that takes ... whether it’s making shots, finding plays for other people. Just making sure that our team is in the best place possible.”
With it being the Storm’s second-to-last home game of the regular season, retiring guard Briann January was honored beforehand. January is from Spokane, Wash. This is her first year with the Storm.
“It’s not only what she’s done in Seattle thus far, but what she’s done in the league over her entire career,” Storm head coach Noelle Quinn said of January. “She’s a champion, her defensive prowess, she’s a leader, she’s an amazing human being. So she deserves her flowers.”
From Spokane to Seattle, and everywhere in between, we're proud to have been part of your amazing career.— Seattle Storm (@seattlestorm) August 4, 2022
Thank you, @BriannJanuary! pic.twitter.com/MuFboeKCWB
The team plans to honor retiring 19-year member of the Storm Sue Bird before their last regular-season home game on Sunday.
“To be honest, I don’t know how I’m gonna handle Sunday’s game,” Stewart said. “I think the players who this is not their final season, we need to step it up for the ones that are taking in all those emotions in Bri and Sue. Sometimes it’s good to just let them have a moment.”
In addition to January and Bird, Minnesota’s Sylvia Fowles is retiring at the end of this season. Wednesday was her final regular-season game in Seattle.
“She’s gonna go down as one of the best to ever do it, someone who’s at the top of the record books,” Stewart said of Fowles. “But it’s beyond what she does on the court. It’s the ways that she’s able to create relationships and affect a lot of people off the court. And Minnesota’s obviously very lucky to have her.”
Thank you for everything you've given to the game of basketball, @SylviaFowles! pic.twitter.com/OlQFEYeoDF— Seattle Storm (@seattlestorm) August 4, 2022
Lauren Jackson in attendance
Sue Bird has been fortunate enough to play alongside two of the greatest players of their generations in Lauren Jackson and Breanna Stewart, winning two championships with both of them.
Jackson played for the Storm from 2001 to 2012 and with Bird on the Storm from 2002 to 2012, winning championships in 2004 and 2010. Known for ability to play inside-out at 6-foot-6, Jackson won three MVP awards, won the Finals MVP in 2010 and was listed as the seventh best player in WNBA history by ESPN in 2021.
Jackson was in attendance on Wednesday, along with another former Strom player in Abby Bishop, who, like Jackson, is from Australia.
Lauren Jackson and Abby Bishop just sat down courtside. They received a loud applause from the Seattle crowd. #TakeCover— Storm Chasers (@WNBAStormChaser) August 4, 2022
Jackson spoke with the media prior to the game and had the following to say about Bird:
“What she’s been able to do in her career on and off the court has been phenomenal and I don’t think there will ever be anyone like her. I think the legacy that she’s left on the sport and that she’ll be leaving on the sport is enormous. But I’m really excited to see what she does next.
“What we did on the court, it just happened really organically. As did our friendship. You know, it wasn’t forced, nothing about anything that we did was forced. And I think that’s why we sort of developed the one that we had and that we still to this day have.”
Jackson on Sylvia Fowles:
“Syl is one of my favorite people in the world, but also probably one of my toughest competitors. I think when she first came into the league, her strength and her size really made it hard for me to do what I do naturally. But I think it’s more the person that she is. She's become a great friend and someone that I absolutely adore, like Sue. Incredible human being. And it’s awesome that I get to see the both of them play tonight live.”
Reunited and it feels so good! ⛈ @S10Bird @laurenej15 pic.twitter.com/r29vSofhnk— Seattle Storm (@seattlestorm) August 4, 2022
Breanna Stewart on Paige Bueckers injury
It was announced on Wednesday that UConn rising junior Paige Bueckers will miss the entire 2022-23 NCAA season with a torn ACL. Stewart, who was once in Bueckers’ shoes as the star player at UConn, had the following to say about the news:
“Really just devastated for Paige. Especially after coming back from an injury, feeling at her best, and then to kinda be hit with another injury. It’s obviously tough and it reminds me of me going through injuries. And I’m sure she’s asking herself ‘Why?’ And you don’t know why. It’s just gonna be her journey, it’s gonna be her story. It’s gonna be the way that she fights back through adversity. I reached out to her and I told her there’s gonna be good days and bad days. There’s gonna be ups and downs, it’s a roller coaster of a journey. But what’s most important is that you show up. You show up every day, you do your rehab. And she’ll be back before she knows it.”