It took a while, but the Seattle Storm seem to be figuring things out without three-time league MVP Lauren Jackson.
The Storm look to win their fourth straight Sunday when they begin a home-and-home set with the visiting Washington Mystics, who have dropped six in a row in Seattle.
Missing Jackson as she prepares to play in the Olympics for her native Australia, Seattle opened with seven losses in eight games, but it appears to have found an answer to its struggles.
The Storm (4-7) are coming off an 82-76 win over San Antonio on Friday, as Tanisha Wright scored a season-high 20 points to lead six players in double figures.
"I think there is still a long way to go and we can get better, but we're starting to see our identity come out to really know what we can rely on," said point guard Sue Bird, who hit a pair of free throws with 17.5 seconds left after the Silver Stars pulled within two.
"Out there in a tight game you need that comfort level and we're starting to get that and you're seeing it in the games."
It was the second time in three games Seattle topped 80 points after averaging 61.3 during a four-game skid prior to this winning streak.
Coach Brian Agler says the improvement on offense is due to Seattle's willingness to drive to the basket instead of settling for outside shots. The Storm averaged 24.0 3-point attempts over their first nine games but have put up 16 shots from beyond the arc in each of the last two.
"I think we're more efficient," he said. "Now we're being more aggressive at the rim."
Seattle will try to keep things going against Washington (2-7), which has lost its last two and is struggling to defend on the road.
The Mystics fell to 0-4 away from home with an 80-77 defeat to Phoenix on Wednesday. Washington had a 70-63 lead with 5:48 remaining but allowed the Mercury to go on a 12-4 run before they hit a tiebreaking layup with 23 seconds left.
Michelle Snow finished with 21 points and nine rebounds and Monique Currie scored 20, but the rest of the Mystics shot 32.6 percent.
The Mystics are giving up 85.0 points per game on the road compared to 70.2 at home. They have dropped 13 consecutive road games dating to last season, with three of the defeats this year coming by eight points or fewer.
"Just being able to close out close games," guard Jasmine Thomas told the Mystics' official website. "We have to figure out a way to play consistently for four quarters."
These teams will meet again Tuesday in the nation's capital.
- Washington Mystics
- Seattle Storm