The Indiana Fever's defense of their WNBA title has gotten off to a slow start, but they've at least taken a step forward by ending a long losing streak. Despite a better record, the Seattle Storm appear to have a rough road ahead as the absence of two stars continues to take its toll.
Indiana seeks a second straight win at home Sunday night as it faces Seattle.
The Fever (2-7) opened their season with a 77-86 home win over Atlanta, but then proceeded to lose seven in a row while averaging only 64.9 points.
They put an end to the skid with an 80-69 victory over Tulsa on Friday, getting a season-high 28 points from Tamika Catchings, who had missed the previous two games with a lower back injury.
"The last couple of months have been rough as far as just dealing with my back and stuff," said Catchings, who came in averaging 14.4 points in six games. She also had six steals for the Fever, whose 10.4 steals per game rank second in the league.
"The rest really helped. I feel like my old self out there. Able to move, not feeling so stiff."
Despite the season-high point total, the Fever still look to improve on their league-low average 68.1 points a game. Facing Seattle - which owns the league's worst field-goal defense at 47.7 percent - could help.
The Storm (4-5) forced 22 turnovers against New York on Friday, but still took a 67-62 loss, their second in a row. They were outrebounded 46-26, and without three-time league MVP Lauren Jackson - who, like teammate Sue Bird, is out for the season after undergoing surgery - they average a league-worst 29.6 rebounds per game.
"They're not very big," New York coach Bill Laimbeer said. "That's going to be their problem all year long is rebounding."
Seattle was also only 1 for 18 from 3-point range, including a 1-for-6 clip from leading scorer Tina Thompson (13.1 ppg). Thompson, the league's all-time leading scorer who will retire after this season, was held to three points on 1-for-8 shooting for the second straight contest.
"Most of the shots that I took I actually felt like they were going to go in," said the 38-year-old Thompson, an eight-time All-Star. "They just didn't. I just kind of had one of those clunky nights."
Indiana won both meetings last season, including a 72-48 victory at home on Sept. 12 as Catchings tallied 13 points, seven rebounds and six steals. She also recorded 18 points and 11 rebounds in a 68-66 win in Seattle on Aug. 23.
The teams are the WNBA's two worst in terms of assists, with Indiana at 13.0 per game and Seattle averaging 12.3.