Storm improve to 6-3 without Jackson, clinch playoffs

CHICAGO -- Sue Bird scored 19 points to help the Seattle Storm clinch a playoff berth with a 70-62 victory over the Chicago Sky on Thursday night.

Camille Little had 13 points and Yolanda Griffith added 10 for Seattle (20-10), which moved into sole possession of first place in the West and secured a fifth straight trip to the postseason.

"We know that it is going to be a tight playoff race," Bird said. "We're obviously excited about clinching but we know it's going to be tight."

The Storm won for the third time in four games since the Olympic break and improved to 6-3 without reigning MVP Lauren Jackson, who is out for the rest of the regular season after having arthroscopic surgery on her ankle last week.

Jia Perkins scored 22 points and rookie Sylvia Fowles added 12 for Chicago (11-18), which snapped a three-game winning streak.

"This is very frustrating," Sky forward Candice Dupree said. "We had control of the game until the fourth quarter. That's what hurts the most."

Seattle overcame a rough first half in which it had 16 turnovers and trailed 34-29. But the Storm had only eight turnovers in the second half and got big baskets from Bird in the fourth quarter.

Perkins hit three free throws to give the Sky a 60-59 lead with 4:07 left in the game. But Bird responded with nine points during the Storm's game-closing 11-2 run.

"She's the MVP of the league," Seattle coach Brian Agler said of Bird. "She's going to do whatever it takes, whatever we ask. When the game was on the line she came through."

Chicago used a 6-0 run to extend its lead to 40-30 just 2 minutes into the third quarter. Seattle closed the period with an 8-2 run and opened the fourth quarter with eight straight points to take a 56-52 lead with 8:13 remaining.

Trailing 30-20 in the second quarter, the Storm closed the first half on a 9-4 run to cut the Sky's lead to 34-29 at the break.