Storm wrap up homestand vs. Fever

Twice this season, the Seattle Storm have given 37-year-old point guard Sue Bird a game off in an effort to keep her fresh for a playoff run.

Considering the results, there might not be a third time.

The Storm (8-4) dropped to 0-2 without Bird, who is tied for the WNBA lead with 5.9 assists per game, with an 89-77 defeat Tuesday against Las Vegas.

Seattle finishes a five-game homestand Friday night against the Indiana Fever (1-11) at KeyArena.

“Do I want (Bird) out there? Yes,” Storm coach Dan Hughes told The Seattle Times. “In a perfect world, I’m always going to put her out there.

“It’s a common theme this year with teams. If your health is really good, you’re blessed. But a lot of us are dealing with starters out of the lineup and what have you. And we all have to find ways to make that work when those things happen.”

The Storm also played without starting forward Alysha Clark, who was out with a sprained right ankle.

“It’s the league,” Storm guard Jewell Loyd told the Times. “You’ve got to be prepared to play without people.”

Forward Breanna Stewart, who leads the league with 22 points per game, scored 27 in the loss for the Storm, which had scored 100 or more points in their two previous games against the Aces.

“We had three points after five minutes, so I think we could tell that it was going to be a little bit different type of a game,” Stewart told the Times. “Still with that, we made shots. We made plays. We just didn’t make enough.”

The Fever snapped a season-opening, 10-game losing streak (and an 18-game skid dating to last season) with a 96-64 victory Saturday at home against Atlanta.

They lost 74-55 Wednesday at Los Angeles despite a double-double by center Natalie Achonwa (13 points, 14 rebounds).

Indiana outrebounded the Sparks 45-27 but struggled offensively.

“I thought we were able to make (the Sparks) uncomfortable with our defense, but we got stagnant on offense,” Fever coach Pokey Chatman said. “We stopped cutting, we didn’t make adjustments and we didn’t reverse the basketball. Then we gave up 17 turnovers, we can’t afford to give away easy baskets.”

Chapman praised Achonwa, who has four double-doubles this season.

“She made her presence felt on both ends of the floor,” Chapman said. “I can’t give her enough credit for her hard work and her ability to grind.”