June 14, 2014

The Tulsa Shock and the Seattle Storm missed the playoffs last year, but one of them seems on their way to avoiding such a fate again.

The Shock go for their longest winning streak in a dozen years Sunday night when they try to extend the Storm's slide in the opener of this home-and home set.

After failing to reach the playoffs for five straight years following its relocation from Detroit, Tulsa (7-1) is unexpectedly atop the Western Conference and tied with Connecticut for the league's best record.

The Shock started 2015 with an 83-75 loss at Minnesota before reeling off seven straight wins for the first time since doing it twice in 2007.

They haven't won eight in a row since June 5-27, 2003, when they last opened a season 8-1.

Tulsa's current run already includes a win over the Storm (2-6), beating them 68-45 at home on June 9. The Shock held Seattle to 23.8 percent from the field, and its starters to 16 points on 6-of-33 shooting.

A potent offense has been the biggest key to the Shock's success. They rank second in the league with 81.0 points per game while sinking a league-leading 39.6 percent from 3-point range.

Tulsa won for the fourth time in as many home games with Friday's 71-62 victory over New York, hitting 10 of 24 from long range and forcing 26 turnovers.

Skylar Diggins was held to a season-low nine points on 2-of-9 shooting after she had a season-high 36 on 9 of 15 from the floor in an 86-78 win at Minnesota five days earlier.

With the Shock showing postseason potential, the Storm are in need of a turnaround if they're going to avoid missing the playoffs for a second straight year after qualifying for 11 straight.

Their last two losses during a four-game skid have been especially disheartening. Seattle blew an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter Saturday in a 73-71 defeat at San Antonio, two days after squandering an 18-point advantage in a 76-73 loss to Minnesota.

At least the offense has been improved, with the Storm averaging 72.0 points over the last three games after scoring 58.3 over the previous four.

Crystal Langhorne matched season highs with 18 points and nine rebounds against the Stars. The forward, though, had a tough time dealing with Tulsa's Courtney Paris on June 9, getting outrebounded 11-5 while going 2 for 7 from the floor and scoring five points.

Sue Bird only managed six points in that meeting, but she's totaled 30 with 12 assists and nine rebounds in the past two games.

These teams will meet in Seattle on Tuesday.

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