Storm-Silver Stars Preview

TOM CASTRO (STATS Senior Editor)
The Associated Press

The San Antonio Silver Stars stopped a five-game losing streak with a critical road win their last time out. Still in a tight battle for the second seed in the Western Conference, they'll try to end a three-game home skid Friday night against the struggling Seattle Storm.

The Silver Stars (18-11) ended their surprising skid with a 78-67 victory over last-place Tulsa on Wednesday. San Antonio had won 15 of 17 before suddenly falling apart in the next five games.

Danielle Robinson had 12 points, five assists, four steals and three rebounds as the Silver Stars took advantage of a 6-23 Shock team.

"We needed this," coach Dan Hughes said. "... Defensively, I was pleased with our efforts. That's a building block. We needed that after the little skid we've been on."

Hughes' team was better at the defensive end after giving up 87.4 points per game during the losing streak, but the third quarter Wednesday showed there's still room for improvement. The offensively challenged Shock outscored the Silver Stars 29-13 in the period.

Now it remains to be seen whether San Antonio can overcome the late-season slump and pass Los Angeles for second place in the West. The Silver Stars are right behind the Sparks for that spot with five games remaining, but they'll have to play better at home, having lost three straight there after opening 9-1 on their own court.

Four of San Antonio's final five contests are at the AT&T Center.

They'll get to face another slumping opponent Friday, as Seattle has suffered lopsided losses in its last two games. The most recent was particularly bad, 72-48 at Indiana on Wednesday.

While Seattle (13-16) is headed to playoffs, it certainly hasn't been surging to the end of the regular season. Lauren Jackson has returned to join Sue Bird, but the team hasn't been able to find a rhythm with the two superstars.

The Storm's only two wins in the last five games have come against Tulsa.

Bird rested Wednesday and Tanisha Wright did not play because of a groin strain, leaving the Storm without their starting backcourt. Jackson was unable to pick up the slack, finishing with four points on 2-for-10 shooting and committing seven turnovers.

The former MVP, who has averaged 19.0 points in her career, has scored 11.0 per contest in her seven games this season.

Seattle had 28 turnovers Wednesday and posted its lowest point total since 2004. The Storm were blown out even though the Fever shot 33.0 percent from the floor.

"Without our two top point guards, things were difficult," center Ann Wauters said. " ... We need to move on to prepare for the playoffs and we need to play better as a team."

The Storm and Silver Stars have split two meetings this season, with each winning at home. They meet again next Friday at Seattle.

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