The Storm dished out a Finals record 33 assists on 40 shots in a 104-91 victory over the No. 1 seeded Las Vegas in Game 2 of the Finals. Seeded second due to two regular season losses to Las Vegas, Seattle is one win away from the franchise’s fourth WNBA championship.
Game 3 is Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Well-rounded offensive output for Storm
Sue Bird again led the way for the Storm in the assists column. She had a double-double of 16 points and 10 assists with two steals. The 17-year veteran was 6-of-9 overall, making 4-of-7 3-point attempts. It will also be her fourth title.
Three starters had massive outputs for the Storm and five players were in double-digits as they outscored the Aces, 29-23, in the final 10 minutes. It was a seven-point Aces deficit heading into the final quarter after they kept it tight all game.
Breanna Stewart scored 22 points on 7-of-13 shooting, hitting 5-of-8 3-pointers as the team shot a combined 46.2% behind the arc.
They shot 57.1% (40-70) as a team, including 46.2% (12-26) from behind the arc. The Storm successfully kept the Aces off the free-throw line, allowing five shots while hitting 12-of-15 themselves.
Aces’ Laimbeer: ‘No favors’ from referees
No team took more free throw attempts than the Aces this season and no individual has attempted more than MVP A’ja Wilson. That’s the team’s identity, though it wasn’t apparent in Game 2.
Bill Laimbeer highlighted that in the post-game media call.
"We had no favorsfrom the referees today ... they get to the free throw line more than us and they're jump shot shooters? Please."— Erica L. Ayala, MPA (@elindsay08) October 4, 2020
Bill Laimbeer felt TOs and lack of opportunities at the line was part of the story in Game 2. #WNBA #WNBAFinals
Laimbeer’s full comments in his opening statement to media:
“But make no mistake, we had no favor from the referees today. We only shoot five free throws and we’re going to shoot more than any in the history of the league, and that doesn’t make any sense to anybody. So that was a very determining factor in this ball game where we got fouled and didn’t get calls and they got fouled and they got the call.
“They go to the free throw line more than us and they’re jump shot shooters? Please. That makes no sense.
“So that was a big part of this basketball game, also. It’s not the whole story, but just a part of it, and so was our turnovers.”
The Aces won the boards, 34-26, and had 29 assists themselves. They again struggled with turnovers, committing 16 to the Storm’s 10. But in comparison to previous postseason games, it was a more well-rounded output for the Aces.
Wilson led the offense with 20 points (on 8-of-17 shooting) with seven rebounds. Angel McCoughtry had 17 points (on 8-of-16 shooting), eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. Kayla McBride stepped up with 14 points and five assists. Danielle Robinson had 10 assists.
Emma Cannon, who joined the “wubble” at the end of the regular season, poured in 17 points off the bench. She made 8-of-10 shots and added five rebounds and two assists.
Las Vegas shot 52% (39-75) and made 8-of-19 3-point attempts. They are feeling the impact of not having two-time Sixth Woman of the Year Dearica Hamby available. Hamby is out for the rest of the playoffs with a knee injury.
Bird keeps pushing on another level
Bird, the ageless basketball queen, had another eight assists in the first half including a no-look dish to the corner for a 3-pointer.
Her final stat line gave her another record this WNBA Finals, via Her Hoop Stats. It was her fifth points/assists double-double, giving her the sole mark over longtime friend and fellow UConn alumna Diana Taurasi of the Phoenix Mercury.
The Seattle offense runs through the 17-year veteran, but it takes efficient shooting to complete the task of an assist. And she’s not the only one moving the ball around. The offense had 17 assists on 18 baskets in the first half while shooting 50% overall and hitting 6-of-15 3-point attempts.
The Aces kept within six points at the break despite barely getting to the free-throw line. They shot better than the first half of Game 1, making 18-of-36 shots (51.4%) and sinking 3-of-7 3-pointers. They won it on the boards, 21-12.
Howard, Clark get Storm going
The Storm are so good because they have a starting cast and bench full of weapons. Jewell Loyd and Stewart combined to score 65 points in the 93-80 Game 1 victory.
The Aces came out in Game 2 by shutting that down; Stewart didn’t score until 1:16 left in the first quarter. But by focusing on them, it allowed Natasha Howard and Alysha Clark to star. Howard was a perfect 4-for-4 in the first quarter with two blocks and Clark made all three of her attempts for seven points along with two rebounds. The Storm held the 31-24 lead through 10 minutes.
Coming into the final quarter of a seven-point game, Canada lifted the Storm just as Stewart did in the same stretch the first game.
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