Buckle up, because the Storm season is about to get serious.
After a two-day layoff following the season opener, Seattle began a three-games-in-five-day stretch Tuesday night with a 90-66 victory against Minnesota at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
However, there’s little time for the Storm to enjoy its second straight blowout considering it returns to the court Thursday to face defending WNBA champion Washington before Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Sparks, a title contender.
“I had a chance to look at the schedule,” backup guard Jordin Canada said, smiling. “It is what is and you can’t do anything about it. It’s a taking one game at a time and one day at a time and just focusing on one team.
“Obviously we’re going to have a lot of games and not enough rest time, but we all have that mindset and we’re mentally prepared for that.”
Breanna Stewart finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds while Sue Bird added 16 points for Seattle, which improved to 2-0.
Minnesota (1-1) received a team-high 18 points from Damiris Dantas. Sylvia Fowles finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Napheesa Collier added 11 points.
Similar to its 87-71 win in Saturday’s opener, the Storm was methodical while overwhelming an overmatched opponent with a blistering assault at both ends of the court.
A shorthanded Minnesota team played without point guard Odyssey Sims, who is making a late arrival after giving birth to her son in the spring. The WNBA All-Star led the team in scoring (14.5) and assists (5.4) last season.
The Lynx also lost forward Karima Christmas-Kelly, who suffered a right ankle injury late in the first period and didn’t return.
The Storm took a 41-35 lead into halftime before the Lynx cut its deficit to 45-42 midway in the third with Bird nursing with an apparent leg injury.
That’s when Stewart and Loyd began a 3-point barrage, each connecting on a pair of shots behind the arc to power a 15-3 game-breaking run and carry Seattle to a 60-45 lead.
“As a team, we play the long game,” Canada said when asked about the Storm’s up-tempo offense and pressure defense. “It may not show up in the first half and it may not show up in the third quarter, but in the fourth quarter if we keep doing what we’re doing, pushing the pace and executing our plays and executing our schemes on the defensive end, then in the fourth quarter that’s when we usually control the pace of the game and take over because we’re so aggressive.
“We know that at some point it’s going to hit them, and then in the fourth quarter that’s when we take over.”
This time the Storm put the game away in the third while outscoring the Lynx 28-17 and taking a 69-52 lead into the fourth.
The big fourth-quarter lead allowed coach Gary Kloppenburg to empty the Storm bench for the second straight game, and everyone scored. The Storm reserves outscored the Lynx’s subs, 34-20.
“Everyone on this team has an important role,” said Canada, who had eight points and four assists. “It’s our job as a bench players to continue that spark that the first five is giving us and just to maintain the flow of the game.”