Lauren Jackson back with Storm for late-season push

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SEATTLE — Tears turned to sweat as Lauren Jackson returned to the Storm’s practice Wednesday.

The Storm session was a simple walk-through after critiquing game video. Seattle (10-12) plays host to Indiana (12-8) on Thursday.

The Storm will attempt to halt its worst home skid since 2009 at two games.

Jackson, a 6-foot-6 center, will start against the Fever. She remained after practice Wednesday to get in extra offensive work with assistant coach Jenny Boucek.

That’s when the sweat dripped after an emotional week in her native Australia. She was at the forefront of the country’s celebration for Olympic athletes, an honor after being named her country’s flag bearer for the London Games’ Opening Ceremonies.

“It was something I’ll never forget,” Jackson said. “Getting on the plane (from Sydney to Seattle) and having to say goodbye to everybody was the first time I’ve been in tears ... ever. It was the end of that era, and now I’ve got to focus and move forward.”

Add star Sue Bird and veterans Tanisha Wright and Camille Little to the practice mix and the Storm is finally coming together for a late push. The final piece to the starting lineup is wing Katie Smith.

“She’s someone who has been a partner in crime for the last 11 seasons,” Bird said of Jackson. “Whenever we’re back on the floor together it’s very comfortable. I think she puts us at ease.”

Whether it culminates in victories is unknown. Indiana has won two of three since the Olympics hiatus, with a 10-point triumph Tuesday at Los Angeles.

The Storm is without center Ann Wauters (Achilles) and forward Tina Thompson (knee). Wauters has missed eight games due to her injury. Storm coach Brian Agler expects her to be out at least another week to completely heal. Thompson also is being held out as a precautionary measure. She’s expected to play Sunday.

Jackson’s minutes will be limited Thursday, but the team is glad she’s back after watching from the bench during an 86-73 defeat against Minnesota on Tuesday.

“I don’t think it’s all going to fall into place right away,” Agler said. “But I think we’re going to have enough time to get it to a pretty good spot.”

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