Storm hand Atlanta its first defeat

Associated Press
SEATTLE — Lauren Jackson scored a season-high 32 points and hit back-to-back 3-pointers during a decisive run to end the third quarter and help the Seattle Storm hand the Atlanta Dream their first loss of the season, 90-72 on Tuesday night.

The Dream (6-1), now in its third year, had been the last unbeaten team in the league. The Storm (6-1) won their second straight to continue the best start in franchise history.

Jackson had just scored a season-high 27 on Sunday in an 84-56 win at San Antonio. On Tuesday, she hit 10 of 19 from the field, including five of eight from behind the 3-point line. She also had 10 rebounds.

Even with those numbers, Jackson wasn’t especially pleased with her own play. “I still feel like I didn’t shoot that well,” she said. “I airballed one, and I missed two lay-ups. But I think it’s a step forward.”

Storm coach Brian Agler wasn’t nearly as hard on his All-Star forward.

“Lauren is playing tremendous right now,” he said. “She’s playing at a real good speed for herself. You don’t see her trying to rush things. Her shot is smooth, she can set, and she’s reading it.”

Angel McCoughtry, the league’s leading scorer at 24.0 points coming into the game, led the Dream with 16. But she shot just seven of 24. Sancho Lyttle added 10 for Atlanta.

“It was just one of those days when things didn’t go our way,” said McCoughtry, who missed her first seven shots of the night before draining a 3-pointer with 1:26 to go in the first quarter. “But at the same time, we’ve got to learn how to play through it. We were just getting by, 6-and-0, winning — we were feeling good. This is a humbling experience for us.”

The Storm effectively put the game away with a 13-2 run that spanned the last 1:28 of the third quarter and the first 45 seconds of the fourth, stretching a 53-46 lead to 18. Atlanta, which shot just 35.6 percent for the game (26 of 73, including four of 22 in the first quarter) never got closer than 12 points after that.

“We backed down on some things that we shouldn’t have backed down on,” Dream coach Marynell Meadors said. “We didn’t hit the boards like we were capable of, and our post players getting those early fouls really hurt us.”

Seattle went on a 17-5 run, including the final nine points of the half, to snap a 22-22 tie and take a 39-27 lead into the break. Jackson scored 11 of those points. The Dream had forged the 22-all deadlock with 6:16 to go in the half on a running jump shot by McCoughtry, capping a 9-2 scoring surge that erased a seven-point deficit.

The Storm scored the next six points and led the rest of the way.

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