The Seattle Storm are thriving while short-handed and will aim for their fifth consecutive victory when they host the Dallas Wings on Friday night.

Legendary point guard Sue Bird is in the COVID-19 protocol and will likely miss her third straight game. The Storm (5-3) beat the New York Liberty twice without her, including a 92-61 rout on Sunday.

Bird and fellow starter Ezi Magbegor remain in the protocol. Reserve Stephanie Talbot also missed time with COVID but cleared protocol Thursday.

“We don’t make excuses,” Storm coach Noelle Quinn said of her short bench. “To have players go through this adversity now, it brings us closer. Adversity shows character and reveals character and I think our character is showing that we’re down to be blue-collar workers and fight through it and try to make the best of our situation no matter what is thrown at us.”

Jewell Loyd scored 22 points to pace Seattle on Sunday. Loyd is averaging 18.4 points, second on the squad behind Breanna Stewart (20.7), and the latter also leads in rebounding (7.5 per game).

Seattle is 4-1 on an eight-game homestand, while Dallas (5-4) is 1-2 on a five-game road trip.

The Wings have dropped their last two games, including a 93-91 decision to the Los Angeles Sparks on Tuesday. Isabelle Harrison led Dallas with 20 points.

The Wings have five players scoring in double digits, led by Arike Ogunbowale’s 18.4 per game.

Also playing well is Allisha Gray, who is third on the squad with a 13.2 scoring average. She averaged 13.1 points in 2020 and 13.0 as a rookie in 2017, but this season she is shooting superbly from 3-point range with a career-best 42.5 percentage.

She is also shooting a career-high 90.3 percent from the free-throw line.

“I just feel like I’m a very underrated player in this league,” Gray told the Dallas Morning News. “Many people don’t pay attention to my game as a whole. Everybody’s so focused on how a player can score and the stats they put in each game.”

Gray had 10 points against Los Angeles to reach double digits for the eighth time in nine games.

–Field Level Media