Storm 86, Lynx 79
After forcing two extra periods with late 3-pointers, the Seattle Storm knew they had the momentum.
Sue Bird scored 22 points, including two 3-pointers in the second overtime, and the Storm beat the Minnesota Lynx 86-79 in two overtimes Sunday night, forcing a deciding Game 3 in their Western Conference semifinal series.
Lauren Jackson hit a 3 for Seattle with 1.1 seconds left in regulation and Tanisha Wright's 3 with 23.9 seconds to go in the first overtime sent it to another extra period.
Tina Thompson then opened the second overtime with a 3 that put the Storm ahead for good, 78-75. After Lindsay Whalen had a jumper for the Lynx, Bird hit a 3 that stretched Seattle's lead to four points with 2:24 left, and then made another with 42 seconds remaining to seal the win.
''At that point, I think we felt that we were doing the things we needed to do to win the game,'' Bird said. ''We had a pretty good scheme on defense that seemed to be working. The times we were struggling offensively, we weren't on the same page. In the second overtime, we kind of narrowed it down to two or three things, and to be honest, we ran the hell out of them. We're a better team when we're like that.''
Jackson's tying shot at the end of the fourth quarter was set up when Taj McWilliams-Franklin made 1 of 2 two free throws with 11 seconds to go that put Minnesota up 70-67.
''The looks that we wanted to get was Sue, and if that wasn't going to be there, then Lauren,'' Storm coach Brian Agler said. ''Fortunately for us, Sue made a good read, and Lauren didn't hesitate on the shot.''
Jackson, who shot 4 for 17, was scoreless on 0-for-6 shooting in the first half and had all nine of her points in the third and fourth quarters. She fouled out with 40 seconds to go in the first overtime.
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said neither Jackson nor Wright should have been that wide open for their tying shots.
''We needed to make that play, and we didn't make that play,'' Reeve said. ''Any time Jackson is involved in a screen, you switch, and we failed to switch. There also was the play where (Wright) got her 3 - we made a bonehead play.''
Wright finished with 18 points, Little added 12 points and Thompson had 10.
Rebekkah Brunson scored 22 points and Seimone Augustus had 20 for the defending champion Lynx.
Game 3 is Tuesday night in Minneapolis, with the winner advancing to face Los Angeles in the conference finals. The Sparks finished a sweep of their series against San Antonio on Saturday night.
Monica Wright's jumper put the Lynx up 72-70 with 4:07 left in the first extra period, and Little tied with a layup 50 seconds later.
Brunson hit two free throws with 2:09 to go, and then made another with 40 seconds remaining in the period - when Jackson fouled out - to put the Lynx up three.
Tanisha Wright then hit her tying 3, and Augustus missed a jumper with 2.1 seconds to go, sending the game to another extra period.
The Storm trailed 57-47 with 3 1/2 minutes remaining in the third quarter before using an 18-6 run to take a two-point lead on Little's layup with 3:12 left in regulation.
The Lynx ended a scoreless stretch of more than four minutes when Brunson converted a putback to tie the score at 65-all with 1:31 remaining. She made a jumper nearly a minute later and Whalen made two free throws with 17.6 to go to put the Lynx up 69-65.
Bird's jumper pulled the Storm within two with 12 seconds left.
The Lynx called a timeout and Tanisha Wright fouled McWilliams-Franklin on the ensuing inbounds play in Minnesota's offensive end.
Minnesota appeared on the brink of breaking the game open in the first half. The Lynx went on a 16-0 run that bridged the first and second quarters to take a 31-18 lead as they kept the Storm scoreless for six minutes.
But Seattle responded with a surge of its own, outscoring Minnesota 18-6 during the final 6:40 of the half to pull to 37-36 at the break.
''Everybody who plays basketball knows it's a game of runs. That was their run, and we knew we were going to get ours,'' Bird said. ''At that point, it would be very easy to put your head down and go, `Oh, we're down, there they go,' and let them go up by 20 or 25 points. But we never hung our heads and knew we would have an opportunity to do it.''
After shooting 53 percent (9 for 17) in the first quarter, the Lynx were just 16 for 60 the rest of the night and wound up just under 33 percent.
''The ball wouldn't go in the hole, and that was the story of the game,'' Reeve said. ''At some point, you have to score - there's only so much you can do defensively.''
The Storm were at 40 percent (40 for 77), including 9 for 21 on 3s - after hitting their last five from beyond the arc.