Friday, August 14, 2009

OMG! What a Game!! If you were there, this is one you won't soon forget. For the 9,700-plus fans in attendance, this is one we'll be talking about for years to come.

Tonight at the Phone Booth, the young-and-the-reckless Mystics team played their hearts out -- for 50 minutes -- to beat the Connecticut Sun (not to mention the 3 guys wearing whistles) in a Double-OT thriller, 91-89.

After a demoralizing 4th-quarter meltdown on Tuesday against the Shock, the Mystics faced the daunting task of hosting the only team this season that has succeeded in handing them a humiliating loss . . . the Sun, who beat them last Sunday up at Mohegan by nearly 30 points. But tonight the reborn Mystics showed what they were made of.

For the first 40 minutes, with their outside shooting continuing to elude them (another 0-fer night from outside the arc), Washington played gritty, grind-it-out basketball . . . rebounding, driving inside, hitting their free-throws, and contesting every Connecticut move and shot. The Mystics played with enough heart-and-soul to win this game in regulation.

So why didn't they? Well, we'd be lying if we told you we didn't think the refs called a classically horrible game. Two technicals were called on the Mystics (Nakia & Alana), in both cases because the player had the audacity to point out to the official that she had just been fouled. But it wasn't only the Ts. Time and again the jumbotron replays showed that the officials had BADLY blown calls against the Mystics. Many of those calls occurred at critical junctures in a game that was a nailbiter throughout.

However, despite the obstacles thrown in their way, the Mystics regrouped time and again and continued to fight. In the 4th quarter, Alana put the team on her back, scoring 12 of her game-high 26 points in the final 10 minutes of regulation, helping to send the game into overtime.

But tonight, to no Maryland fan's surprise, overtime was Lang's time. In the last minute-and-a-half (or so) of the first OT, Crystal single-handedly wiped out the Sun's 4-point advantage, first by scoring on a lay-up and then by stepping to the line and swishing 2 free throws (her only attempts of the night). The result: the Mystics survived to play another day overtime.

In the second overtime, Lang again led the way. She scored 6 of the Mystics' 10 points, including a 17-foot (game-winning!) jumper from the top of the key (on an assist from Alana) with about 1 second remaining on the shot clock, that put the Mystics ahead with 9.1 seconds left in the 2nd OT period. Two time-outs and 9.1 seconds of defense later, Nakia grabbed the rebound from a missed Connecticut 3-point attempt. Game over! Mystics win!

The coaches jumped into each other's arms. The players mobbed each other at mid-court. The 9,700 fans stood and screamed their approval; nobody, absolutely nobody, left before the final buzzer -- with the exception of LeBron James and 4 of his buddies. This one was a classic!

Alana, as we mentioned, led all scorers with 26. Lang finished with a double-double, 22 points and 16 boards (both career highs)! The BasketCases watched Lang play all four years at Maryland, and we have to say that this was one of the most amazing (and memorable) games of hers we've ever seen. Lang has always been a high-percentage shooter, but now her shots include long jumpers, including ones (like tonight's) made at clutch moments. She has a free-throw shooting form that is unorthodox to say the least, but her accuracy from the charity stripe continues to improve. We think this season she's answered her critics who questioned whether she could perform well at the pro level.

The Mystics are now tied again for 2nd place in the Eastern Conference, this time with Connecticut and Atlanta. Though playoff position is important, perhaps more important was the statement the Mystics made tonight in toughing out a win against a perennial playoff team. No matter what the rest of the season may hold, the Mystics have shown that they are a team to be reckoned with, a team that's growing . . . a team headed in the right direction. And, as their fans already know, they are a team tremendously exciting to watch! We have 9,700 witnesses.


At 1:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Patiently waited for your blog to comment before retiring for the nite. Lots to blog.

Attended the Chalk Talk (my 1st) w/GM Taylor. I am impressed by her presence and candor to respond to direct ?'s about the team, individual players and officiating.
She was on point in her observations for tonite's game.

As for the game, this team will give reason to drink to calm my nerves. Great action and drama!! Lindsey's swirling spin-a-rama layout in OT was sic. Alana's "D" to force a jump ball was brillant. But Lang's jumpers (had another on the baseline that was key in OT) "was nothin but money". If she does not win "MIP", something is all wrong with the WNBA.

Go Stics! Can't wait to purchase my first playoff tickets.

At 7:51 AM, Anonymous Stewart said...

The team did LOTS of growing up Friday night. A loss would have been devastating. But, they didn't quit, even when the Sun punched them in the mouth. These are the games upon which winners build and those plunky ladies came through with the goods. My first double-overtime game in person and I lived to tell about it. Christy Winters-Scott very accurately, I think, called it the best Mystics game ever.

At 10:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a fabulous game. My heart was beating so fast from the 4th quarter on!!! It was really all a blur. Lang was amazing and I'm glad Alana was able to draw and dish!! Alana and Nakia's techs were for questioning the refs! I'm just glad they both focused their fury into their play!! This was a real team effort, by everyone-all the players, coaches, fans!! Go Mystics, keep working together!!

At 11:04 AM, Blogger fr mike said...

Congratulations to the Mystics and their wonderful (full of wonder, aren't you) fans. Great game! Great team! Great fans!

At 2:55 PM, Anonymous Stevo said...

Fight to the finish, is what the Mystics did!!! This team will continue to impress...Fight on Mystics!!!!!!!!

At 3:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good to see both BCs back in the game too.

At 10:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At the chalk talk before the game, GM Taylor said the team had not yet played a full 40-minute game. Well...the team played no only their first full 40-minute game, but ten extra minutes of passion and energy. They could have gone another OT session if they had to. They just were NOT going to let this one slip away. Even though the refs seemed to be rather one sided, it was the Sun who looked frustrated and tired. What a great game. I hope this gives them the momentum they need heading into the road trip.

At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two comments. First of all, I am not sure why LaBron James was there at all. All he did was slouch in his seat looking bored and snicker with his posse about who knows what. He obviously was not interested in the game. He walked right in front of me twice and as he left I performed a little protest and turned my back on him - ignoring him like he ignored us. Second comment. While I am in thunderous agreement that the officiating was embarrassing in this game, I need to point out that Alana probably deserved her T. After her basket she turned to the ref and it was pretty obvious that she was making an 'in your face' comment. It was also obvious when she came to the bench that she realized what she did was unnecessary and she was quite contrite. On the balance of things, though, I'm not sure I would have been able to have kept my composure on the court given the horrible officiating. So, I'm not faulting her, but pointing out that in this particular instance the official was probably well within his rights to slap her with the T.


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