The end of Tina Thompson's stellar WNBA career is about to come to a close, but not before she tries to help the Seattle Storm build some momentum heading into the postseason.
With retirement looming, Thompson plays her final regular-season contest Saturday night looking to help the Storm to a second win in three days over the visiting Tulsa Shock.
The 38-year-old forward will call it quits after her 17th WNBA season ends after the 2013 playoffs. The WNBA's all-time leading scorer, Thompson was the league's first draft pick, helped the Houston Comets win the first four titles and is the only one to play in every season.
"She's a tremendous competitor," coach Brian Agler told the Storm's official website. "She competes in practice on every drill. Every game, she's going to do her best to bring her best. That becomes infectious in a team setting.
"That's part of her leadership. There's leadership you can do by your communication and by your action and she does both. I think all of our players who have played with her have benefited in learning from her in multiple ways."
Thompson's leadership has certainly been visible while leading the Storm (16-17) with 13.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game in 2013. Though stars Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird missed the season while recovering from injuries, Thompson helped guide Seattle to its 10th straight trip to the playoffs, which it opens against top-seeded Minnesota next week.
"I'm really proud of my teammates and what we've been able to do, considering we had so many doubters," Thompson said.
She had 20 points and 10 rebounds while Shekinna Stricklen scored a career-high 26 as Seattle snapped a three-game skid with Thursday's 76-67 win at Tulsa (11-22). The Storm had lost the three previous three meetings this season by an average of 19.3 points.
"We want to finish at .500 and have that momentum heading into the playoffs,'' Stricklen said. "It's good to have a game that builds confidence.''
Thompson had totaled 30 points and 10 boards in the previous three with the Shock.
Tulsa's Riquna Williams, who scored a WNBA-record 51 points in Sunday's 98-65 victory at San Antonio, finished with 17 and went 0 of 4 from 3-point range after making 8 of 14 against the Silver Stars.
Williams (15.9 ppg) scored 26 on 9-of-15 shooting in 19 minutes of an 86-59 win at Seattle on July 17.