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Bird leaves early, but Storm beat Mercury

SEATTLE – Sue Bird of the Storm battled Australia, France and jet lag, but she had a tough time dealing with a growing bout of stomach flu Thursday.

Seattle began the second part of its WNBA season Thursday with a pregame celebration for Bird to honor her for winning a third Olympic gold medal. She flashed the coveted neckpiece to the crowd and then started against the Phoenix Mercury.

Visibly sniffling, huffing and puffing, she had to leave the game shortly into the second quarter.

As she dealt with a turning stomach, her teammates spun Phoenix’s head in a 72-58 victory at KeyArena.

Forward Camille Little led the Storm with 17 points and six rebounds. Rookie guard Samantha Prahalis led Phoenix with 15 points.

Guard Tanisha Wright and Svetlana Abrosimova filled in the void in the Seattle backcourt.

The duo, along with strong play from the reserves, pieced together a 15-5 run at the end of the second quarter to help Seattle take a 34-29 lead into the break.

A splashy play from Katie Smith to Abrosimova to forward Alysha Clark in the third quarter gave the Storm a 51-40 lead.

Seattle cruised from there, evenly spreading minutes among its players.

The Mercury are on a seven-game losing streak.

The Storm improved to 10-10, solidifying their hold on the fourth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

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