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Jackson powers short-handed Storm past Silver Stars

SEATTLE -- Lauren Jackson had 31 points and 15 rebounds to lead the short-handed Seattle Storm to an 86-72 victory over the San Antonio Silver Stars on Tuesday night.

Despite playing without leading All-Star vote-getter Sue Bird, Seattle (14-2) matched the 1999 Houston Comets and 2002 Los Angeles Sparks for the fourth-best start in league history.

Swin Cash scored 16 points, and Svetlana Abrosimova, Tanisha Wright and Le'coe Willingham each had 11 for the Storm, who are now 10-0 in Western Conference play. Wright, starting at point guard in Bird's absence, also had 12 assists.

"Tanisha was unbelievable and I'm so proud of her," Jackson said. "All the girls really stepped up. ... I think that if we just keep doing what we're doing, we're going to be pretty good."

Storm coach Brian Agler pulled his starters with the game well in hand and Jackson took to the bench with 4:17 remaining, just a point shy of her season-high 32 scored against Atlanta on June 1.

"This is one of those nights she could have really put some huge numbers up if she had got the minutes," Agler said. "She was really energized tonight."

Becky Hammon scored 24 points and Chamique Holdsclaw had 16 to lead the second-place Silver Stars (5-8).

Bird played just 2 minutes before leaving due to back spasms in the Storm's come-from-behind win over Tulsa on Sunday. Agler said she was a game-time decision after participating in a morning shootaround. She was in uniform for the game but didn't play.

"She wanted to play," Agler said. "We want her to play but in reality there is a bigger picture to this. It's probably the smartest thing not to over-do it right now with her.

"I think Sue's goal is to play Saturday if you really sat down and talked with her."

After committing a season-high 25 turnovers against Tulsa with Bird out, Seattle had a season-low eight against San Antonio.

Jackson had 18 points in the second half and Cash scored 13 as the Storm began to pull away.

"They kicked our butt," Hammon said. "Obviously they're a better team than us right now. They're better than every team in the league right now."

After a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws from Hammon pulled the Silver Stars within 10 late in the third quarter, the Storm answered with a 16-4 run to put the game out of reach.

Wright helped the Storm build an early lead, attacking the basket and scoring six points in the opening minutes as Seattle jumped ahead 14-4.

Jackson then took command inside scoring 13 points to keep the Storm comfortably in front in the first half.

Holdsclaw had 13 points to keep the Silver Stars in the game. San Antonio closed within six late in the half, but Willingham made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the first half, giving the Storm a 36-27 lead.