Sue Bird scored 13 points and handed out 10 assists, Camille Little led Seattle with 18 points and the defending WNBA champion Storm opened the 2011 season with a 78-71 win over of the Phoenix Mercury on Saturday.
Lauren Jackson added 15 points and seven rebounds as Seattle built a big fourth-quarter lead and then watched Phoenix's Diana Taurasi try to rally the Mercury in the closing seconds.
Taurasi scored a game-high 31, including 11 in the closing minutes as Phoenix trimmed a 19-point deficit to within five with 16 seconds left.
The six returning members of Seattle's championship team from a year ago received their title rings, then went out and beat Phoenix for the eighth straight time and ran the Storm's regular-season home win streak to 18 after going undefeated at home a year ago.
Seattle led by just five at halftime but scored the first eight points of the second half and led by as many as 19 in the fourth quarter.
Seattle's six returning members from last year's title team received its championship rings in an elaborate pregame ceremony that took most of 20 minutes and was capped by the unveiling of the second championship banner in team history. Seattle also won the title in 2004, when Bird and Jackson were still in the infancy of their careers.
It took six years, but they finally added another crown. And with the addition of veteran Katie Smith in the offseason, Seattle is considered again the team to beat.
The Storm looked pretty strong in the opener, despite some opening-game sloppiness that resulted in 16 turnovers. Seattle controlled the glass, outrebounded Phoenix 38-28 and outscored the Mercury 46-32 in the paint.
And much of that came with Jackson as a non-factor offensively for the first 12 minutes. She eventually warmed up and made 4 of 9 shots and all six of her free throws.
But it was Little taking advantage of Jackson's quiet start. She made 8 of 13 shots and grabbed nine rebounds while most of Phoenix's defensive attention was placed on Jackson.
Little received a scare in the fourth quarter when she collapsed under the Phoenix basket and grabbed her right knee, but was able to walk off the court under her own power.
Smith added eight points in her Seattle debut, and capped a key 14-2 run in the first half with her second 3-pointer. Jackson had just three points at half, all at the foul line, but her presence opened up chances for Little and cleared room on the perimeter for Bird, who scored Seattle's last six points of the half and also handed out six assists.