SEATTLE — The Connecticut Sun are on a hot streak, and the Seattle Storm are hoping to get on one for the first time since late May.
The teams will meet Wednesday afternoon at KeyArena, the Sun (10-7) having won four games in a row — and 10 of 13 since an 0-4 start — to move into first place in the WNBA’s Eastern Conference. The Storm (8-9) hasn’t won back-to-back games in more than a month, but are coming off an 81-69 victory against the defending WNBA champion Los Angeles Sparks.
Breanna Stewart, the reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year, scored 26 points and Jewell Loyd added 22 in victory. It was Stewart’s fourth consecutive game with 20-plus points.
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“They’ve proven that they can score in this league, they can take over games and really dominate at certain points,” Storm point guard Sue Bird told The Seattle Times about Stewart and Loyd.
“Considering it’s only their second (Stewart) and third year (Loyd), that’s a good sign for things to come. They’re just going to get better and better.”
Bird, who received her 10th All-Star selection Tuesday, matching Tamika Catchings for the league record, added 15 points on 6 of 7 shooting from the field against Los Angeles and kept the tempo moving. That helped the Storm win for just the fourth time in their past 12 games.
“When we play and we’re running and we’re out in transition, we’re not thinking as much,” Stewart told The Times. “It’s easier to find things and find people. Defenses can’t guard it.”
Added Bird: “We finally played the way we need to play in order to win games. And what do you know? We won.”
The Sun are coming off a historic victory, having rallied from a 22-point deficit in the second half to defeat the Washington Mystics in a battle for first in the East.
Jonquel Jones, who was named an All-Star starter Tuesday, scored 22 points and Alyssa Thomas added 19, including the go-ahead jumper with 36 seconds remaining.
“We have a lot of heart. This team never quits and it’s just a lot of fun out there,” Thomas, who was playing with the flu, told reporters after the game. “Most teams would have gave up down 22, but we just came together even closer.”
That topped the previous franchise record, set in 2006, when the Sun came back from a 19-point deficit against Phoenix.
The Sun and Storm met June 29 in Uncasville, Conn., with Jasmine Thomas, another All-Star starter, scoring a career-high 29 points in a 96-89 Connecticut victory.
The Storm nearly rallied from a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter, cutting the margin to 90-89 with 1:19 remaining before the Sun scored the final six points, including a Jasmine Thomas layup off a Seattle turnover with 33 seconds left.