Comets 75


Storm 58

(20-14, 14-3 home)

    10:00 PM ET, September 3, 2005

    Key Arena, Seattle, WA

    1 2 3 4 T
    HOU 43 32 75
    SEA 26 32 58

    Top Performers

    Houston: S. Swoopes 14 Pts, 10 Reb, 10 Ast, 2 Stl

    Seattle: B. Lennox 12 Pts, 2 Reb, 1 Ast

    Houston at Seattle 10:00 pm EDT

    SEATTLE (AP) -- No team could use extra rest more than the Seattle Storm. Following a Game 2 loss, they would gladly settle for a place in the Western Conference finals.

    The Seattle-Houston series is tied 1-1. For more coverage of the series, check out the following links:

    • Comet comeback forces Game 3 • Seattle wins Game 1 on road
    • Back injury won't bench LJ
    • Lieberman: Snow is X-factor
    • Voepel: Talent-laden West
    • Title defense not easy road
    • Playoff schedule
    •'s playoffs coverage
    • Rosters: Teasley in; no Wauters

    With a win over Houston on Friday in a decisive Game 3 at KeyArena, Seattle can join Sacramento, Indiana and Connecticut, all of which already have clinched a spot in the conference finals. The Monarchs await the Seattle-Houston winner after sweeping Los Angeles on Friday, and will have homecourt advantage in the Western Conference Finals.

    After winning their series opener 75-67 at Houston on Tuesday, the Storm hoped to complete the sweep on Thursday and give star forward Lauren Jackson extra time to rest her strained lower back before the conference finals start on Thursday.

    Houston, however, wasn't ready to go home and overcame a 10-point halftime deficit for a 67-64 victory to force Game 3.

    Sheryl Swoopes scored 20 points and came up with two key defensive plays in the final three minutes to give the Comets the lead for good.

    With 2:06 left, Swoopes stole a pass from Seattle's Sue Bird and scored on a layup to give the Comets a 63-62 lead. On the Storm's next possession, Betty Lennox was called for a charge. Swoopes was fouled at the other end, and made both free throws for a 65-62 lead with 1:53 left.

    "Our total effort was just so much better -- our focus, our enthusiasm,'' Houston coach Van Chancellor said.

    Tina Thompson added 13 points, Janeth Arcain 12 and Michelle Snow had 10 for the Comets, who shot 59 percent (13-for-22) from the field in the second half and outscored Seattle 25-5 from the free-throw line.

    "It reminded me a lot of Game 1. They got out to an 8-10 point lead, and then we fought back,'' Swoopes said. "Game 1, we just couldn't get over the hump. Tonight, everyone was just really determined.''

    A victory Saturday would give Houston its first playoff series victory since it won the franchise's fourth WNBA title in 2000.

    Lennox led the Storm with 16 points, but made only 6 of 20 shots. Jackson finished with 14 points and Janell Burse had 12 as Seattle had a nine-game home win streak snapped.

    "Whatever we didn't do tonight, we're going to do Saturday night,'' Lennox said. "We have no choice. We're going to be the aggressor. We're going to do whatever we can. It's going to be a great game, so may the best team win.''

    Seattle is hoping to avoid becoming the second straight WNBA champion to lose in the first round in the following season. Detroit won the 2003 title and lost 2-1 to New York in the first round last year.

    Although she leads the team with five assists per game, Bird has struggled in this series. She is shooting 7-for-25 (28 percent) from the field, including 2-for-11 from 3-point range.