Sue Bird sets WNBA career assists record, plus Storm gets help and earns playoff berth despite OT loss in Washington

The veteran has 2,610 career assists, surpassing the mark held by Ticha Penicheiro. The Storm got into the playoffs when Chicago and Atlanta each lost.

WASHINGTON – Storm guard Sue Bird set the WNBA all-time assists record Friday night, passing Ticha Penicheiro with her 2,600th career assist, and Seattle clinched a playoff berth despite losing 110-106 to the Washington Mystics in overtime.

Because it didn’t win, the Storm needed both Chicago and Atlanta to lose on Friday in order to secure a playoff spot. The two best teams in the WNBA gave the Storm the help it needed, as Minnesota beat Chicago 110-87 and Los Angeles routed Atlanta 81-56.

Bird, playing her 477th game, moved ahead of Penicheiro in the first quarter on a pass to Carolyn Swords, who was cutting through the lane, for the basket. It was her third assist of the game.

After she set the record, the game was stopped and Bird was given the ball and received an ovation from Mystics fans.

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Bird’s first assist came May 30, 2002, when she dished to Adia Barnes for a three-pointer.

Bird had 19 points and a season-high 13 assists for her 23rd career double-double.

She has 2,610 assists.

Penicheiro, 42, a U.S. citizen who was born in Portugal, said in a statement released by the league: “Sue, congratulations on becoming the all-time assists record holder. Records are meant to be broken and if somebody is going to take your ‘crown,’ you want it to be somebody like you. You do it with class, charisma, passion, humility, efficiency, professionalism and creativity…always leading your team and your teammates. You have done so much for the game, not just here with the WNBA in the U.S., but all over the world!”

Of the record, Bird said, “What makes it special is that with an assist there’s two or more people involved, so its something that as a point guard I know I take very seriously – and I’m sure a lot of point guards do – about getting your teammates involved and trying to get the ball in the right spots.”

Alysha Clark led the Storm with 20 points.

The Storm plays at Chicago on Sunday, the final day of the regular season.

Elena Delle Donne scored a season-high 37 points for Washington, which holds a one-game lead on Phoenix for the fifth spot in the playoffs

Washington (18-15) led by three points when Emma Meesseman made one of two free throws with 16.3 seconds remaining in…

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