Fever-Storm Preview


In the midst of their longest road swing of the season, the Indiana Fever are coming off another narrow defeat.

Facing the WNBA's worst team could help them bounce back.

The Fever try to continue their recent success against the Seattle Storm, who hope to avoid a seventh consecutive loss Thursday night.

Indiana (12-14) has gone 1-2 on its five-game trek after falling 77-73 to Los Angeles on Monday. The Fever, who kicked off their trip with a 60-57 defeat to Chicago last Tuesday, were held to one point in the final 2:17.

"I thought we should have won the game," an emotional coach Lin Dunn told the team's official website. "We didn't finish the game. We didn't do the little things you need to do to win a game in crunch-time.

"When we had a chance to win, we made a defensive error, we missed rebounds and we missed free throws. You can't do those things and expect to win on the road."

Tamika Catchings had 16 points while Erlana Larkins added 10 and 10 rebounds for the Fever, who have lost four of six. Indiana gave up 14 offensive rebounds and 24 points off 17 turnovers.

"There are definitely some good things, but there are definitely some things within our control that we didn't take care of - rebounding consistently and communicating on defense was a huge thing," guard Briann January said after going 1 of 8 from 3-point range. ''Those are things we need to do to pull out games on the road, and we fell short."

Despite its recent scuffles, Indiana is the only Eastern Conference team with a winning road record (7-6).

The Fever have also fared well against the Storm, taking five of the last six in the series and are seeking a season sweep. Indiana won this season's first meeting 76-68 at home June 11 behind 17 points and 11 boards from Larkins.

"This is something I feel like we've all seen her do in the last couple years," Storm guard Sue Bird said of Larkins, who is fourth in the league with 9.4 rebounds per game. "She's very active, a very energetic player who never seems to give up on any play."

While the Storm (9-19) have posted a WNBA-record 10 consecutive postseason appearances, their streak is all but certain to end. Seattle is 3 1/2 games behind Los Angeles for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West with six remaining.

The Storm are coming off an 80-74 defeat at Tulsa on Tuesday and haven't lost seven in a row since July 7-21, 2001, which is also the second-longest skid in team history. Bird led four players in double figures with 15 points, but Seattle was outscored 21-2 in transition and outrebounded 35-22.

Seattle is averaging a league-low 70.7 points and also is last in rebounds at 28.4 per game.

This will be Dunn's final regular-season appearance at KeyArena. Dunn, set to retire at season's end, was Seattle's first coach and general manager from 2000-02.