TULSA, Okla. – Sue Bird scored 21 points, Swin Cash had 17 and the defending WNBA champion Seattle Storm rallied for an 82-77 victory over the Tulsa Shock on Tuesday night.
Camille Little added 11 points and Le’coe Willingham had 10 for the Storm (3-2), who outscored the Shock 30-13 in the third quarter after trailing by six at halftime. Bird and Cash combined for 20 points after the break.
Three-time MVP Lauren Jackson finished with four points. She suffered an apparent hip injury in the first half and did not return after halftime.
“We haven’t shot the ball very well this season,” Seattle coach Brian Agler said. “We’re not sure how severe the injury is. We’ll know more (Wednesday). We played well tonight in the second half. We finally saw a little bit of the heart we had last year. She was the MVP for a reason. We aren’t better without her.”
Tiffany Jackson had 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead Tulsa (1-6), which pulled to 78-75 with 1:05 remaining but scored just one basket after that.
Jackson tied up Bird to force a jump ball with 42.5 seconds to go. Jackson attempted to tip the ball to a teammate but Seattle’s Tanisha Wright came down with the ball.
Officials ruled Wright’s basket on the ensuing play good, despite the shot clock expiring before the shot.
“The (officials) said there was no way to tell what the clock read,” Shock coach Nolan Richardson said. “So, you go with the official’s judgment. Three seconds is a long time for them to dribble, dribble and then go in and score.
“Coming out of the second half, we missed the first two or three shots and they made theirs. That put us on our heels.”
Jackson shouldered the responsibility, saying it was her not getting the tip ball rather than Wright’s shot as the difference.
“We thought we would get the tip and we didn’t,” Jackson said. “We still felt like we had a chance though. We can’t put our finger on why we came out so flat in the third period. We just know we have to get better.”
Liz Cambage scored nine points off the bench to help Tulsa build a 15-point lead in the first half before the Storm pulled to 37-31 at the break.
Seattle scored eight consecutive points early in the third quarter to take the lead. Cash’s layup put the Storm ahead 40-39 with 7:50 to go in the period, Willingham capped the spurt with a basket about 28 seconds later and they didn’t trail again.
Ashley Robinson’s jumper in the opening minute of the fourth extended Seattle’s lead to 63-50.
“We battled to the end,” Latta said. “That shot (clock issue) was just a momentum breaker. We thought we had broke their backs until then. … This was a game of runs. We got ours in the first half and they got theirs in the second half.”
Veteran guard Sheryl Swoopes, who finished with four points, said she also likes the Shock’s persistence.
“We aren’t happy with the outcome,” Swoopes said.
“We played well in the first half. We came out in the third quarter a little flat and we just missed shots.”