Late miscues doom Storm on 69-64 loss to Mercury

LAS VEGAS, NV -MAY 8: Breanna Stewart #30 of the Seattle Storm handles the ball during the game against the Las Vegas Aces on May 8, 2022 at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. 2022 NBAE (Photo by David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images)

Seattle, WA – The Seattle Storm suffered a second straight loss to the Phoenix Mercury. A late turnover and a missed three pointer came back to bite Seattle on two possessions that would have tied the game. Without two starters and their backup point guard, Seattle failed to generate much offensively. Storm guard Jewell Loyd had a game-high 26 points, as no other Storm player reached double figures. Currently on a three-game losing streak, the Storm fall to fifth in the Western Conference and 11th in the entire WNBA.

Aussie connection steps up, Ezi Magbegor and Stephanie Talbot, playing expanded roles with their starter counterparts out, stepped up big for the Storm. Magbegor, tasked with the tough assignment of Tina Charles, helped hold the former MVP to just four points on the day. Magbegor also set a career high for block in a game, with seven. Those seven blocks are the second highest number for a Storm player ever, with only the legendary Lauren Jackson having more in a game with eight.

Stephanie Talbot had big shoes to fill with Breanna Stewart out due to COVID. The Australian forward lead the team in rebounds with 14, tying for the most in the game with Mercury’s Brianna Turner. Talbot played with lots of energy, pouring in eight points as well. It is hard to fill in for the best player in the world, but Talbot did a solid job playing in Breanna Stewart’s spot. Stephanie Talbot and Ezi Magbegor spoke after the game about the importance of stepping up.

“I think it was super important, obviously we’re without Stewie who’s a big defensive presence, Pip as well. We all had to step up as a team. That allows the guards to get into scoring position. Focusing on our defensive keys helped us out,” Magbegor responded to being asked how important was for herself and Talbot to step up.

“Stewie is out, Pip is out, Mercedes is still out. Playing out of position, I knew that I had to help Ezi inside. Defensively, she’s covering a lot, helping me out… If I could clean up rebounds and shift on transition, that was the plan,” Talbot reflected on her performance.

Jewell Loyd steps up once again in the third quarter, Storm guard Jewell Loyd is a scoring machine, and that was shown again in this game. Similar to the team’s first home game of the season, Loyd had an explosive third quarter with tough baskets and great hustle plays. Loyd, nicknamed the “Gold Mamba,” scored 18 of her 26 points in the second half. With Stewart out and Sue Bird only adding two points, Loyd led the way offensively for Seattle. While it is impressive to see Loyd continue to build off of her career year last season, she deserves more help on the offensive end. When nobody else on your roster is in double figures, let alone against a contending team like Phoenix, you will not win games.

The Storm may be on a three-game losing streak, but it’s hard to hit the panic button just yet. There are several months of the WNBA season to play, you’re missing three players that play huge impacts on your roster, and your team hasn’t hit on full cylinders yet. Gabby Williams and Briann January are still getting their legs on them with this Storm roster. You’re only four games in to the regular season. Your backup point guard and your starting center are out. All of that, plus the best player in the world in Breanna Stewart has missed two of four games. Seattle is dealing with the growing pains now, and I expect them to be firing on all cylinders sooner rather than later.

The Storm’s next matchup comes against the defending WNBA Champions, the Chicago Sky. Seattle welcomes the reigning champions to Climate Pledge Arena on Wednesday, May 18th, with a 7PM PST tip off. Candace Parker comes to town, as her Sky currently sit at a 1-1 record.