Mercury-Storm Preview

The Associated Press

No matter how much adversity the Seattle Storm have to face, they appear to be ready for the challenge.

The depleted Storm look to remain undefeated at home Sunday, when they try to keep the Phoenix Mercury from a third consecutive victory.

Even with second-leading scorer Jewell Loyd (ankle) the latest key contributor to be sidelined, Seattle continues to trudge on while not making any excuses. Jordin Canada had 17 points and Alysha Clark banked home a one-handed shot with 10.1 seconds left to help give the Storm (8-5) a 79-76 home victory over Chicago on Friday.

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Natasha Howard (18.5 points, 9.2 rebounds) had a gritty 14 points with nine rebounds as five Seattle players scored in double figurers and the Storm forced 15 turnovers to prevail in a game that was tight late.

It was another example of the character the reigning WNBA champs have shown despite being without stars Breanna Stewart (Achilles), Sue Bird (knee), coach Dan Hughes (cancer treatment) to begin the season, and now Loyd (15.8 ppg).

"We understand that injuries happen. We wish they would stop. We hope (Loyd) was the last one, but we're not going to roll over and quit," Clark, averaging 8.4 points and 6 rebounds, told The Seattle Times. "That's just not who we are as people."

Who the Storm are is a team that's 5-0 at home for the fourth time ever, and first since going undefeated there in 2010. Friday was the first in a stretch of six consecutive home games at Alaska Airlines Arena on the campus of the University of Washington.

It was at the Angel of the Winds Arena in nearby Everett, where the Storm opened their latest post-WNBA title season with a 77-68 win over Phoenix on May 25. Howard had 21 points with 16 rebounds and Canada (9.8 ppg, 4.8 assists per game) added 16 with six assists, plus seven turnovers, as Seattle raised the championship banner and overcame a seven-point deficit after one quarter to come through.

Phoenix (4-5) did not have league legend Diana Taurasi available for that contest due to a back issue, and it remains uncertain when she will actually make her 2019 debut. It appeared Taurasi, the league's all-time leading scorer, would be ready for last Sunday's 10-point win over Los Angeles and then Friday's 91-69 rout of Indiana. It's possible she could be set for this contest, but that again is unsure.

Phoenix, regardless, can turn to the likes of DeWanna Bonner (20.2 ppg), Brittney Griner (17.1 ppg) and Leilani Mitchell (12.7) points to lead the way as it tries to win three straight for the first time in 2019. Bonner scored 31 and pulled down eight rebounds while Griner chipped in 18 points at Seattle in May.

Griner had 23 points and Mitchell scored 18 as the Mercury shot 52.4 percent, made 10 3-pointers and held the Fever to 2-of-18 shooting from beyond the arc on Friday.

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