Talking with the media about her back injury for the first time all week, Seattle Storm center Lauren Jackson revealed on Friday the depth of the pain she has played through the last three games.
“Pretty much the same – in pain,” Jackson said, asked how she’s feeling. “It’s fairly consistent. I’ve got a bone scan now (Friday afternoon) and hopefully there’s nothing too much going on in the joint. Then we’ll go from there in terms of treatment and how I progress. We’ll go from there.”
Jackson was a game-time decision on Thursday, when the Storm played host to Connecticut. Even after she told Brian Agler she would give it a go, the Storm’s head coach was surprised to see Jackson out warming up with her teammates instead of saving her energy for the game. She ended up playing nearly 30 minutes, scoring 17 points and coming up with two key buckets down the stretch as the Storm put the Sun away.
Still, Jackson says the injury affects her “A lot, actually. It’s one of those injuries that just doesn’t warm up at all. I have to go out there and focus on something else, but it’s definitely hard. It is what it is. Like I said, hopefully today in terms of figuring out what it is and trying to get the right treatment.”
Agler has been able to reduce Jackson’s minutes this week, with the Storm earning comfortable victories over Indiana and Washington. Ideally, he’d like to play Jackson slightly less than he did in the closer game against Connecticut, which was still below her season average in terms of minutes per game.
“It was one of those games where I wish we could have gotten her out more,” he said “but it was also – like all these games – a very important game. For whatever reason, her matchup on (Sandrine) Gruda was pretty crucial for us. It was very important that she was in the game there.”
And, noted Agler, “She’s just not going to pull herself out of a game. If she’s able to compete, she’s going to compete. The only time she’s not is if she feels like she can’t hurt the team or she could injure herself more.”
The Storm would not let her get to that point, valuing the All-Star’s health over the long run.
“We’re going to monitor her day by day,” said Agler. “We won’t put her at any risk. We won’t, and she won’t put herself in a position where she can injure herself more. That’s the bottom line. She’s just got issues now that it’s just going to take a lot of downtime to get totally past them. If we get in a situation where we can’t help ourselves anymore, we’ll use that time to really rest her and maybe some other people.”
Because of the way he has worked with Jackson, particularly last season when she had to have ankle surgery after the Olympics, Agler has earned his star player’s confidence.
“He knows I’m in pain right now,” Jackson said. “I trust him completely to do what’s right. I want to win.”
Jackson did not participate on the court as the Storm briefly practiced Friday morning. Because the team’s schedule has been so crowded, with games every other day all this week, Agler has limited the team’s activity to try to stay fresh.
“It’s that time of the year,” he said. “You’ve got to try to get better through watching film and talking and try to prepare as much as you can through walkthroughs and tape.”
The Storm may be aided in the preparation process this game and last by the fact that Connecticut and Atlanta are familiar foes. The Storm lost to both teams on the road two weeks ago.
“I think there are still some familiar thoughts,” said Agler. “It’s not a total loss like Indiana, where we played them the third game of the year and we played them last week. We had to start basically from scratch. Atlanta, we’re not starting totally from scratch, but we’ve played four games since then too.”