SEATTLE (AP) - Three-time WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson gave the Seattle Storm the lift they needed for the third straight game.
Jackson had nine of her 14 points in the third quarter to help lead the Storm past the Tulsa Shock 74-57 Thursday night for Seattle's third straight win since her return from a hip injury.
``When you have the best player in the world on your team, it makes a big difference,' said Storm guard Tanisha Wright. ``She 100 percent opens up a lot of different opportunities for each and every player on the floor. As she gets even more and more comfortable with playing again, a lot more things are going to open up even more.'
Wright scored 12 points, Camille Little had 10 and Swin Cash nine for Seattle (16-12), which moved into a tie with Phoenix for second place in the Western Conference.
Jackson and Sue Bird sat out the fourth quarter as the Storm held a comfortable lead. Jackson played just 15 minutes.
``Obviously, she didn't play a whole lot tonight which is probably good,' Storm coach Brian Agler said. ``But she has recovered well after each game.'
Tiffany Jackson and Sheryl Swoopes each scored 12 points and Amber Holt had 10 for Tulsa (1-25), which extended its WNBA record to 20 straight losses.
``I just think they came out with more intensity in the second half and we really didn't match it,' Tiffany Jackson said. ``We never could match it in the second half.'
Lauren Jackson has averaged 15.7 points in the three games after missing 20 games.
``She can ring 'em up if you get the ball to her in the right spots she has the ability to do that,' Agler said. ``We just didn't shoot the ball very well in the first half and she wasn't shooting the ball well in the first half. But she got the ball and played with a little more rhythm in the second half.'
Jackson made 4 of 9 shots from the field, including two 3-pointers. She opened the second half with a three-point play and a 3-pointer.
``I was mad and that's what happens when I get mad is I don't think and when I don't think I tend to play better,' said Jackson, who was frustrated when she and Tulsa's Jennifer Lacy got tangled up. ``I got mad, got up, had a few words with a few people and ran down the court and shot a 3. It felt good, back to my own self.'
Defending champion Seattle hopes to overtake Phoenix for second as the top two conference teams earn homecourt advantage in the playoffs. The Storm are 12-2 at home and 4-10 on the road.
Jackson scored nine and Cash had five to key a 28-16 run in the third quarter and give the Storm a 56-41 lead. Jackson hit two 3-pointers in the quarter to help offset Holt's eight points, including two 3's.
Seattle led 28-25 at halftime as Tiffany Jackson scored 10 to help keep the Shock close.
Despite Tulsa's nearly 7-minute scoreless drought to start the second quarter, the Shock closed the first half with six straight points.
The Storm struggled as well with a 4-minute scoreless stretch early in the second quarter and shot 3 for 16 from the field in the period. Jackson and Cash were a combined 1 for 11 in the first half, including Cash's 0-for-5 effort.
Tulsa's only win this season came on June 18, 77-59 against Washington.
``We're warriors, we're fighting but it's a test of character for us,' Tulsa coach Teresa Edwards said. ``We have a lot of young ladies with a lot of pride.'
The Associated Press News Service
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