Sun-Storm Preview


Behind yet another outstanding performance from Tina Thompson in her final season, the Seattle Storm continued their march toward an improbable playoff spot. Seattle will try to take another step toward clinching a postseason berth when it hosts the struggling Connecticut Sun on Thursday night. The Storm have gone 8-4 since a 6-10 start, managing to overcome the season-long absences of Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson. That's largely because of the 38-year-old Thompson, who's averaged 16.8 points and 7.3 rebounds in the last 12. The WNBA's all-time leading scorer has also averaged 21.3 points and 9.3 rebounds in Seattle's past four wins. The Storm have gone 4-1 in their previous five. She had 27 points and 13 rebounds in a 72-71 win at San Antonio on Tuesday, pushing the Storm's lead to four games over the Silver Stars for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Thompson bounced back from an 11-point, three-rebound performance in a 70-64 loss to San Antonio two days earlier. "She's one of the all-time best," coach Brian Agler said. "She continues to show it at 38. She'll mix it up. I've coached some of the best players and she takes a back seat to no one in regards to competitiveness." The Storm took the season series from the Silver Stars, giving them the crucial tiebreaker. "This game was definitely high stakes because it had playoff implications," said Thompson, selected as an All-Star for the first time since 2009. With the worst record in the league, the Sun (7-20) find themselves in an unfamiliar position after winning the Eastern Conference regular season title last season. They're all but guaranteed to miss the playoffs for just the third time in the last 11 years and have set a team record for losses. Connecticut dropped a fifth straight contest for the first time since 2009 with a 91-78 defeat at Los Angeles on Tuesday. The Sun received a big contribution from their reserves, getting 37 points, including a season-high 19 from Iziane Castro Marques in 24 minutes. However, that wasn't enough to overcome a 17-for-49 shooting performance from the team's starters. Tina Charles scored 18 but was 8 for 21. She's shooting a career-low 40.1 percent from the field, including 37.9 in her last eight contests. Thompson scored a team-high 17 as Seattle hit 50.0 percent of its shots in a 78-66 win at Connecticut on June 16. Charles went 5 of 18, finishing with 15 points and six rebounds.