After a challenging start to the season, the Seattle Storm may be starting to establish an identity without their stars.
The San Antonio Silver Stars, however, don’t appear to be adjusting as well to their rash of injuries.
The Storm seek their third straight victory overall and 13th win in 16 meetings with the Silver Stars on Friday night in San Antonio.
With key players Sue Bird (knee) and Lauren Jackson (hamstring) out for the season with injuries, Seattle (3-3) opened the season 1-3 and suffered those defeats by an average of 17.0 points.
The Storm, though, have regrouped with double-digit victories over Connecticut and Washington to even up their record as they open a stretch of six of seven on the road.
Although she’s set to retire at season’s end, 38-year-old Tina Thompson has given the short-handed Storm a lift with team highs of 15.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
The veteran forward hit five 3-pointers and finished with season highs of 30 points and eight rebounds to lead Seattle to a 96-86 overtime win over the Mystics on Tuesday.
“She’s a winner and she’s proven that,” Seattle coach Brian Agler said. “It’s nice for us and our fans and our players to have her on our team so we can enjoy this and see her at her best.”
Teammate Tanisha Wright added 17 points and is second on the Storm with 12.5 per game.
Since averaging 65.3 points during their slow start, the Storm have scored 87.0 per game in their last two victories.
They’ll try to continue that production against a San Antonio team that was swept in a three-game road trip and is third-worst in defensive scoring in the WNBA at 78.2 points per game.
Injuries have taken their toll on the Silver Stars (2-4), who lost 84-48 at Los Angeles on Saturday without leading rebounder Jayne Appel (undisclosed) and last year’s leading scorers Becky Hammon (broken finger) and Sophia Young (ACL tear).
The Silver Stars were outscored 46-20 in the paint and their season-worst 25 turnovers led to 27 points for the Sparks.
“When you’re turning the ball over to a team that loves to run and they have the players to run, then we’re sitting ducks,” said forward DeLisha Milton-Jones.
The lack of depth has plagued the Silver Stars, who have been outscored 101-56 in the second half of their last two losses.
Shenise Johnson (11.5 ppg), Danielle Adams (11.2), Jia Perkins (11.0) and Danielle Robinson (10.2) are averaging in double figures, but San Antonio is 11th in the league in scoring at 69.7 points per game.
The Silver Stars won both their home games last season against the Storm by a combined 37 points.