SEATTLE -- Brian Agler watched his team throw the ball away and miss several free throws down the stretch Tuesday night.
When it was over, the coach focused on the bottom line: The Storm is just one win away from their second WNBA title.
"It's almost like everyone is disgusted with how we've played the last two games," Agler said. "The point is, we're up 2-0."
League MVP Lauren Jackson scored 26 points, Swin Cash added 19 and Seattle moved one step closer to the title with an 87-84 win over the Atlanta Dream in Game 2 of the finals.
Seattle improved to 21-0 at home this season and is hoping it won't need another game at KeyArena. The best-of-5 series resumes Thursday night in Atlanta, where the Storm can wrap up its first title since 2004.
"We pulled it off, thank God. So I'm happy," Jackson said.
The Storm had plenty of reasons to be pleased after winning two rough and ragged games in Seattle.
Iziane Castro Marques, who kept Atlanta close with 21 points Tuesday night, might have broken her nose for the second time in two months after a first-quarter collision kept her on the bench for a chunk of the second quarter with an ice bag on her nose. Angel McCoughtry, the Dream's leading scorer, wore a Band-Aid over her left eye, the result of a collision in Game 1 that required stitches.
McCoughtry was off in Game 2, making just seven of 23 shots on her way to 21 points. She tried to salvage the shaky performance, scoring five quick points in the final 30 seconds to help Atlanta close to 87-84.
Cash missed two free throws with 2.2 seconds left but Atlanta could not get off a potential tying shot.
"I keep hearing all these like moral victories -- I live in the reality of the wins and losses," Cash said. "For me, it comes down to whether we win or we lose.
"Bottom line we won two games at home like we're supposed to do and now we go on the road and try to steal one."
McCoughtry, averaging 28 points entering the finals, was held to 19 points in 21 minutes in Game 1, saddled by early foul trouble and slowed when she needed stitches.
It was more of the same Tuesday night.
She continued to struggle with her shot, missing 10 of her first 11 attempts, before hitting four straight at the end of the first half. Her falling-down 3-pointer at the halftime horn trimmed Atlanta's deficit to 49-47.
But McCoughtry went cold again in the second half. She took just eight shots after the break and was flustered by the defense of Cash and Tanisha Wright, with the long arms of Jackson always lurking nearby.
To add insult to an already miserable night for Atlanta's star, Camille Little forced her way through McCoughtry's foul for a layup with 4:11 left and an eight-point Seattle lead.
"I just missed some shots. You're going to have bad days," McCoughtry said. "I had good looks. Usually I knock them down. I just didn't knock them down today. I just gotta stay more focused."
Wright added 17 points for Seattle and Bird, whose 16-footer with 2 seconds left won Game 1 for Seattle, had 10 points.
Bird helped turn back the Dream in the third quarter when Atlanta tried taking control, and Cash made an open 3-pointer with 2:30 left in the game to give Seattle an 81-73 lead.
Castro Marques put the Dream in position to even the series. With an array of one-handed runners from all over the court, the former Seattle forward led Atlanta to a 62-59 lead with possession and less than 4 minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Bird then drove for a layup, found Jackson on a fast break for another layup and added a left-handed drive to retake the lead. Le'coe Willingham added a quick baseline spin and basket at the end of the third to give Seattle a 69-65 advantage.
Seattle outscored Atlanta 27-16 at the free-throw line.
"I thought that we were aggressive and we got called for fouls," Atlanta coach Marynell Meadors said. "There were way too many fouls called in this game."