Storm brace for tough matchup at Wings

The Seattle Storm know they are in for a game much more difficult at the Dallas Wings on Sunday than what they experienced Friday night at home against the struggling Indiana Fever.

Seattle (9-4) avoided a second straight upset loss after losing to the Las Vegas Aces on Tuesday by beating Indiana 72-63 behind one of its best defensive performances of the season. Jewell Loyd scored a game-high 25 points at KeyArena.

Waiting for Seattle is a Dallas team that handed the WNBA’s best team — the Los Angeles Sparks — a 101-72 loss at home Friday night.

Rookie guard Azura Stevens, a UConn product, made her first career start for the Wings (6-5). The No. 6 pick in April’s WNBA draft had a career-high 13 points. She started because Dallas has suffered injuries to its backcourt.

Stevens’ performance lifted her teammates.

“That’s my baby. I love Z. She’s been in her head a lot lately, putting a lot of pressure on herself,” Dallas center Liz Cambage said. “Her starting today I think was really good for her confidence.”

Seattle will look to disrupt that confidence, and the offensive flow, generated by Stevens.

The Storm, which plays Tuesday at Minnesota after playing at Dallas, faces the daunting schedule of four of its next six games on the road.

Forward Alysha Clark (right-ankle sprain) sat out for the second straight game Friday (her status is questionable against Dallas). Guard Sue Bird returned after missing one game with a minor knee injury. Bird had a season-high five turnovers against Indiana, but had seven assists, five points, a season-high three steals and career-high-tying two blocks

“It’s life in the WNBA,” Seattle coach Dan Hughes said. “There was some good, obviously (and) there was some where we had to deal with injury (in a five-game homestand that ended 3-2). There was some where we didn’t play to our strengths.

“We could’ve found a way to be better, but I think it really taught us the reality of having to play when you lose a starter or two. We kind of grew. It’s just reality in the league. Other teams are having to deal with it.”

Cambage scored 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting and Aerial Powers had 16 points and eight rebounds to lead Dallas’ rout of Los Angeles, which entered the game on a five-game winning streak.

Allisha Gray added 15 points and Skylar Diggins-Smith, who finished with a season-low six points, had 11 assists, one shy of her career record achieved in 2014.