BRADENTON, Fla. - Breanna Stewart scored 26 points, and the Seattle Storm won their second WNBA championship in three seasons, sweeping the Las Vegas Aces with a 92-59 rout Tuesday night.
It’s the fourth title in franchise history for the Storm, who also won in 2004, 2010 and 2018. Seattle had pretty much the same core group that won the 2018 championship back for this year, led by Stewart, Sue Bird and Jewell Loyd. The Storm joined Minnesota and Houston as the only franchises to win four championships.
Seattle has now won a record 11 games in a row in the WNBA Finals, dating to the team’s first championship in 2004. Bird has been a part of all of them. The veteran guard, who turns 40 next week, was once again a catalyst for the Storm.
“I don’t cheat, I don’t cheat the game. I do what I have to do to be able to play at a high level,” said Bird, who missed all of last season with a knee injury and only played in half of the team’s regular-season games while dealing with a bone bruise.
She finished with five points and seven assists. The league’s career assists leader averaged 11 assists in the three-game sweep.
“We’re chill. We’re made for a wubble,” Bird said. “We don’t get too high or low. You saw it off the court with what we stood for and saw it on the court with how we played.”
The 26-year-old Stewart set a WNBA record by scoring more than 20 points for the sixth straight finals game. She earned WNBA Finals MVP honors for the second time in her young career, becoming the fifth player to win multiple finals MVPs.
Her play all season showed she had fully recovered from a torn Achilles’ tendon that sidelined her for the entire 2019 season.
PALMETTO, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 06: The Seattle Storm celebrates winning the WNBA Championship after defeating the Las Vegas Aces 92-59 during Game 3 of the WNBA Finals at Feld Entertainment Center on October 06, 2020 in Palmetto, Florida. (Photo by Juli
Stewart and Bird were both on the bench for most of the fourth quarter with the game well in hand. The 33-point margin of victory was the biggest in WNBA Finals history.
The team shared hugs at center court after the final buzzer as yellow and green confetti streamed down on them.
A’ja Wilson, the league’s regular-season MVP, tried to keep the Aces alive. She had 14 of her 18 points in the first quarter, hitting five of her nine shots. She also took four of the team’s six free throws in the period. The Aces, who led the league by averaging more than 23 attempts in the regular season, only had five total in Game 2. Coach Bill Laimbeer voiced his displeasure that the team couldn’t get to the foul line on Sunday.
Despite scoring the first seven points of the game, Las Vegas trailed 23-21 after one quarter after the Storm closed the period on an 11-2 run. Seattle then scored the first six points of the second. Stewart picked up her third foul early in the quarter and had to sit for the final 7-plus minutes.
It didn’t matter as Seattle extended its two-point advantage to 43-34 at the half.
Seattle put the game away in the third quarter, scoring 12 of the first 14 points in the period.
The Aces’ future is bright. The team was missing Liz Cambage and Kelsey Plum — starters from last year. Cambage was granted a medical exemption to skip playing this season in the bubble in Bradenton, Florida. Plum tore her Achilles’ tendon.
“I know it hurts. But end of the day you learn and grow from it,” Wilson said. “I know I grew from it. That’s a success in my book and I’m going to keep growing.”
MISSING HAMBY: The Aces clearly could have used Sixth Woman of the Year Dearica Hamby in the series. She said Monday she had been dealing with a quad injury for the past two months and felt her right knee get injured in Game 3 of the semifinals against Connecticut. Hamby played through the injury to finish that game but didn’t return. She said she most likely wouldn’t need surgery. She averaged 13.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.7 steals during the regular season.
WINLESS ANGEL: Angel McCoughtry came to Las Vegas this season after spending her entire career in Atlanta since getting drafted No. 1 in 2009. She led the Dream to three WNBA Finals appearances but the team was swept in each one. She’s now 0-12 in the championship round.