UNCASVILLE, Conn. - Rookie Lindsay Whalen set a team playoff record with nine assists, scored 11, had two steals, blocked two shots and helped shut down Sue Bird to lift Connecticut to a 68-64 victory over Seattle in Game 1 of the best-of-three WNBA Finals.
Game 2 is Sunday at Seattle, and Game 3, if necessary, will be Tuesday at Seattle.
In all, the Sun had 15 steals and blocked six shots, and Whalen held Bird, 10th during the regular season in field goal percentage at 46.3 percent, to 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting.
Katie Douglas led Connecticut with 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting and made two free throws with 16 seconds left.
Betty Lennox scored 17 for the Storm. Lauren Jackson, who led the league at 20.5 points per game during the regular season for Seattle, scored 16, six during the closing minutes.
MVP: Los Angeles center Lisa Leslie won the award for the second time. The 2001 winner received 33 of 48 first-place votes from a national media panel. Seattle's Lauren Jackson, last season's MVP, was second. Leslie led the league in rebounds (9.9 per game) and blocked shots (2.88) and finished third in scoring (17.6).
PACERS: Center Jonathan Bender missed practice because of a knee injury sustained during a pick-up game three weeks ago. The 7-footer could miss Monday's preseason opener, but coach Rick Carlisle said the injury is not serious.
Bender has missed more than 100 games in his five seasons. Last season, he missed the first 39 due to offseason surgery on his left knee and nine with a shoulder injury.
RODMAN COMEBACK: Former star Dennis Rodman believes his bad-boy image is hurting his chance of a comeback.
"They think I'm uncoachable, and I don't know why," he said. "I'm just a free and independent person."
Rodman, 43, hasn't played in the NBA since 2000, when he was waived by the Mavericks after a 29-day stint. He is in Monterrey, Mexico, to play two games with the city's Fuerza Regia team.