SEATTLE (AP) Sue Bird and the rest of the Seattle Storm found a bit more energy in the second half to rally from a 13-point halftime deficit.
Bird scored 22 points and Camille Little added 16 to help the Storm beat the Tulsa Shock 74-68 on Sunday night.
”We got off to a bad start the whole first half,” Bird said about the 42-29 score at the break. ”We weren’t really aggressive and weren’t playing the style of basketball that we need to play to win. We talked about it at halftime and in the second half we just came out and played.
”We didn’t really make many adjustments per se we just had a little more pep in our step.”
Bird, who scored 10 in the fourth quarter, hit four 3s as Seattle (12-20) climbed into a tie with Tulsa (12-20) for fifth, two games behind San Antonio for the fourth and final playoff spot with games left at Los Angeles and at home against Phoenix.
Storm coach Brian Agler noticed the difference in his team in the second half.
”We played with a lot more energy,” Agler said. ”It took us a little bit to get it going but we got some flow and hit a couple of 3-point shots and got Sue and Tanisha (Wright) coming off the pick and roll.”
Defense also triggered the rally.
”The stops we did get we turned into points and when we play like that we can play with anybody in this league,” Bird said.
Skylar Diggins scored 23 and Glory Johnson added 15 to lead Tulsa, which dropped into fifth after winning two in a row. The Shock still must play at Atlanta and at Minnesota.
”They (the Storm) stepped up their defense, were aggressive and got to the free-throw line,” Diggins said about the second half. ”For us, this has been the problem all year, we have to finish games. They were able to finish. They have a strong veteran core there that did their job.”
Little scored 14 in the second half to help the Storm to a third consecutive win after seven losses in a row and keep alive a chance at their 11th straight playoff berth.
”Still alive,” Bird said. ”We have two tough games ahead and we still need another team to lose. Unfortunately, we can’t control our own destiny. All we can do is try to keep going out there and win and hope for the best.”
Seattle must win its final two games and have San Antonio lose its final two (against Minnesota and Chicago) to make the playoffs.
Bird hit two free throws early in the fourth quarter to give the Storm their first lead of the game, 55-54. They never trailed again.
”We just kept fighting,” Little said. ”The first half our intensity wasn’t there and we weren’t playing any defense. You could see the difference in the two quarters when we played way harder we were more assertive on defense and got stops and were more aggressive on offense as well.”