Storm hits hard in Atlanta in trip opener
The Storm brand buzz saw the defense fail to appear in Atlanta.
Seattle entered Sunday’s game ranked second in the WNBA in points allowed (76.0 per game) and buoyed by a dominant defensive performance two days earlier while giving up 57 points – the fifth-fewest in the league this season. .
But none of that mattered against the Dream, who used their superior size, speed and strength to defeat the Storm in a way few teams have done recently.
Atlanta’s offensive efficiency, especially in the paint, and Seattle’s stubborn overreliance on a perimeter attack that repeatedly misfired told the story of the Storm’s 90-74 loss in front of a home crowd. sold-out crowds of 3,138 at the Gateway Center Arena.
“Atlanta played extremely well,” coach Noelle Quinn said in a teleconference interview. “They came out blazing guns [and] shoot the ball at a high clip. They hit first, and we were never able to recover.
“We did a few runs and got close, but at the end of the day their physicality, aggression and athleticism bothered us and we were never able to get into a groove.”
Indeed, Seattle came out flat and trailed by 14 points in the first quarter, clawed back briefly to cut their deficit to 46-41 by halftime before collapsing completely in the second half.
It was an uninspiring start to a three-game road trip for the Storm, which in part contributed to fatigue for shellacking 24 points and their most lopsided loss of the year.
“They understand what they’re trying to do,” forward Breanna Stewart said. “They play fast. Obviously the transition first, but the non-stop movement. It’s hard to keep up. It wears you down. Obviously we were tired today. But it’s hard when you don’t s never stop.
It was Seattle’s first loss to Atlanta since July 15, 2019, which ended a seven-game winning streak.
The Storm (13-8) also gained momentum going into the game given their 8-2 record over the last 10 games that started with a dominating 72-60 win over Atlanta on June 6. at the Climate Pledge Arena.
In their previous matchup, the Dream (10-11) were without prolific guard Tiffany Hayes, who missed the first 19 games of the season and made her season debut on Thursday.
Hayes, who led Atlanta to a 92-81 overtime win over the New York Liberty in its last outing, featured prominently in the Storm’s defensive game plan gone horribly wrong.
“We didn’t want to give up 90,” Quinn said. “It was one thing. We wanted to defend flawlessly. I also wanted to pressure Hayes, but she was a lot in the throwing game. We were unable to trap her so much.
The Storm held Hayes (10 points) in check, but they had no answer for center Cheyenne Parker (21 points and nine rebounds) and rookie forward Rhyne Howard (16 points, five rebounds and three steals).
Seattle, which has never led, cut its deficit to 50-46 midway through the third quarter.
However, Atlanta responded with a decisive 20-5 run to come back 70-51 in the final minute of the third, and the Storm never mounted any sort of comeback the rest of the way.
Stewart lamented a missed free throw following a technical foul on Hayes as well as an errant midrange jumper on the same possession that could have brought Seattle to one point with six minutes left in the third quarter.
“I had a few possessions and a few shots that could have gone in,” said Stewart, who finished with a team-high 19 points, five rebounds and two steals. “We got it. We had our moment and we couldn’t enjoy it and it happens.
Still, there are two takeaways from the Storm’s misfire.
Seattle was outscored 42-16 in the paint in a game in which eight-time WNBA All-Star center Tina Charles, who joined the team last week, tied her career with 2-for-1 points for 6 shots in 14 minutes. The bench. Atlanta shot 50 percent from inside the arc and had five players with double-digit scoring.
Meanwhile, the Storm have converted just nine of 32 three-point attempts (28.1%) and shot less than 30% from the perimeter in three of the last four games.
Stewart was the only double-digit scorer for Seattle, which rebounded 44-30.
“It’s no secret we struggle with athleticism and physicality and teams are physical with us in various ways offensively and defensively,” Quinn said. “Some matchups don’t lend themselves well with us.
“We took 32 threes. Felt like we shot a lot of free throws [Seattle was 23 of 26 at the line while Atlanta converted 17 of 19]but just having variety on our attack too and not settling for those three, especially when they don’t fall.
On Tuesday, Seattle travels to Indiana and plays Thursday in Los Angeles before the WNBA All-Star break.
— During a pregame presentation, Atlanta Dream coach Tanisha Wright, who played 10 seasons in Seattle and won a 2010 WNBA championship with Sue Bird, presented the Storm star with a gift bag and a plaque to commemorate his final season.