Seattle Storm

Storm take 2-0 Finals lead after a stellar Sue Bird performance, role players step up

Seattle Storm

It was a hot start for the No. 2 Seattle Storm Sunday afternoon in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals against the No. 1 seeded Las Vegas Aces.

Through the first 12 minutes, Seattle shot over 72 percent from the field.

Through the first three quarters, whenever it seemed that the Storm were going to run away with it, the Las Vegas Aces would go on a run.

“This is a very good team that we’re playing or they wouldn't be here,” Storm head coach Gary Kloppenburg said postgame. “You know they’re going to make runs…  We stayed focused... I thought our offensive execution was really good tonight and only 10 turnovers.”

Hot shooting was the name of the game early for Seattle.

Sue Bird started off Game 2 with the first bucket of the contest.

Plus, she started off right where she left off in Game 1 with dishing out more dimes Sunday.

Bird hit her first two field goal attempts Sunday, after having just two points in Game 1, but with her 16 assists in that one, she still made her presence felt.

Between Bird’s locked in performance and the Storm’s role players stepping up on both ends, Seattle defeated Las Vegas 104-91 to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.

FINAL BOX SCORE: SEATTLE STORM 104, LAS VEGAS ACES 91 

At the end of the first quarter, the Storm held a 31-24 lead.

The 2020 MVP A'ja Wilson made sure to keep the Aces within striking distance. Wilson was able to get better looks Sunday than in Thursday’s contest. She scored 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting in the first half to tie Seattle’s Breanna Stewart and Alysha Clark for leading scorer of the half. Wilson finished with 20 points in the loss. 

 

But for Seattle, Bird set the tone early. She notched eight assists in the first half. Role players Alysha Clark and Natasha Howard stepped up on the offensive end, especially when Stewart struggled early.

In the win, Bird finished with 16 points and 10 assists. The 18-year WNBA veteran went 4-for-7 from downtown.

“Our captain, Sue Bird, is leading us… Everybody knows their roles on the floor,” Howard said.

Howard’s 21 points and Clark's 21 were a big boost for Seattle.

Those two have been steady scorers all season long… I thought they both were relaxed today. We did a good job of getting Natasha down low… I thought Alysha got in the right spots, we found here… It’s not a surprise that both of those two got back into the flow tonight.

Storm HC Gary Kloppenburg on Clark and Howard's big scoring night

“My teammates have confidence in me to score the ball,” Clark said postgame. “When your team has your back like mine does… it helps keep you focused.”

“That’s really how we’ve played all year long – is a good balance,” Kloppenburg added.

With the balanced offense attack, as a team the Storm finished with a Finals record 33 assists.  Stewart had five of those assists, while adding 22 points.

As for the 'sharing is caring' mentality, Clark explained what goes into the Storm having a record night in assists.

“Thirty-three is obviously amazing. That just goes to show the unselfishness of everybody that’s out there on the floor and the confidence we have in one another.”

At the break, the Storm held a six-point lead after they cooled off on the offensive end, while the Aces dominated on the glass.

Vegas took a 53-52 lead at the 7:09 mark of the third quarter. That was their first lead since it was 11-10.  

But, the Storm went to Stewart late in the third and she delivered.  Heading into the fourth quarter, she led all scorers with 20 points.

Seattle took the lead back to end the third quarter, up 75-68.

And it was all Storm all the time in the final period.

Backup point guard Jordin Canada was huge for the Storm in the fourth.

Canada was doing it all.

Canada was aggressive on both ends. She was scoring, coming up with loose balls, and finding her teammates. Canada recorded 10 points after hitting 4-of-8 from the field.

Seattle also clamped down on defense in the final period.

After taking a commanding lead, Coach Kloppenburg took out his starters with 2:10 remaining in the game.

Following the win, Stewart explained how her team's 'winning time' mentality has to be there in the closing minutes.  

Our mentality is to keep our foot on the gas… If you give them any chance to come back then they will.

Breanna Stewart

Both Stewart and Coach Kloppenburg mentioned that they believe they're playing their best basketball right now.

Playing their best basketball in the WNBA Finals is always a good thing.

The Storm are now one win away from their fourth championship in franchise history.

Seattle and Las Vegas will take the court for Game 3 Tuesday at 4:00pm PST on ESPN.