Saturday, June 05, 2010

One that Got Away

We have to admit that we were more than a little apprehensive as we headed to the Phone Booth this evening. The Mystics would be facing the Conference-leading Atlanta Dream for the first time this year. Atlanta started the season by reeling off six straight wins, before picking up two losses this week. So the Dream were coming into tonight's game eager to snap that losing streak and get back on track. Not only that, but Atlanta is a BIG team (four players 6'4" or taller), not to mention athletic and talented, making them a tough opponent no matter when you play them.

But early on, the Mystics showed no signs of sharing our anxiety. Somehow, someway, the smaller Washington team managed to contain the Dream for the first three quarters . . . thanks in large measure to the Mystics' own (not quite so big) post players --Lang, Kia, and Chas -- and the play of PG Lindsey Harding. In fact, the Mystics led by 10 at one point during the third quarter, and were up by 8 as the final period began.

But the Mystics were unable to contain the Dream during the fourth quarter. As Atlanta repeatedly pounded the ball inside and scored, Washington's lead slipped away. With about 20 seconds left in the game, the Dream were up by 3 and things were looking grim for the Mystics, but Matee Ajavon hit a clutch 3-pointer (one of only 2 shots made from beyond the arc by the Mystics tonight) to tie the game at 75 and send it into overtime.

Unfortunately, the Mystics saved their worst basketball for the extra period. Although they had taken relatively good care of the ball for the 40 minutes of regulation, they were not able to hang onto it during the OT . . . they had as many turnovers in that extra five minutes as they had points. The Dream capitalized on Washington's turnovers, outscoring the Mystics 11-4 during OT and left with the win, 86-79.

It was an exciting game to watch (at least for the first 40 minutes), but of course disappointing in the end for the Mystics and their fans. Five Mystics finished in double figures, led by Lang, who tied for game-high honors with 23 (also tying her career high). With the exception of Lindsey, who hit 50% from the field and scored 14 points, the Mystics' guards suffered from subpar nights (all hit 30% or less). And between the OT TOs and the poor perimenter shooting, the Mystics allowed the chance to gain ground on the conference leader to slip away. Come playoff time, close losses -- at home -- like these are what dreams nightmares are made of.

Next up for the Mystics is a trip to Chicago for a Friday matchup against the Sky, who've won their last four games after a slow start. Then on Saturday, the Mystics return home to face the Liberty again at 7 PM at the Phone Booth.

Go Mystics . . . Beat the Sky (and then the Liberty)!

* * * * * *
Sunday Morning Update . . . . In addition to her game story, which we've linked above, Katie Carrera has a blog post, here, containing post-game quotes from some of the Mystics. Ironically, the players who are the harshest on themselves are Lang, Kia, and Chas, the players most responsible for keeping the team in the game last night and nearly getting the win. We appreciate that despite their own considerable efforts, they were not satisified with the outcome. We hope that the players whose contributions last night were lacking are likewise engaged in some self-critiquing today.


At 12:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What happened to Lindsey in the second half? She stopped driving and shooting!

At 12:46 AM, Anonymous nsw43 said...

Katie tried to take over in the second half but couldn't do it -- at least she couldn't hit shots. She's got the heart of a champion but her body isn't working for her. The team did better last game when she was out.

I'd like to see more Matee and less Katie.

Lang had a heck of a game though.

At 5:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lang is awesome. There is a big problem though and that is no bench scoring. Mo got into foul trouble again and when she was out of the game, no other guard (besides Lindsay) could score. This is the problem with this team. No real scorers besides Lang, Lindsay and Mo. If Marrisa and Matee (Matee play ok last night...better than Marissa for sure) don't step up, it's going to be a long season for this team. I love Katie Smith but reality is she is older and her shot is OFF to say the least. I just don't understand what's happened to Marissa's game. She looks uncomfortable out there. Not aggressive.

At 7:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cannot win games in the WNBA with only using nine players. They are spent by the time the 4th quarter rolls around, and with Katie's age and physical concerns, the Mystics really are only playing with eight! This will take a toll this season!

At 1:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But only 3 of the 9 are scoring consistently. That's the problem. They need someone else who can score 10-12 pts a night and more if one of the guards gets into foul trouble. Right now Marissa, Katie, and Mattee aren't scoring at all. It's too bad because Lang is having such a great season. Mo has stepped up. Lindsay is still solid.

At 1:21 PM, Anonymous BetsyinDC said...

Any word on what happened to Katie's finger in the fourth quarter? There was a play that ended up with the ball out of bounds and Katie came out of it with one finger sticking out funny. She grabbed it and yanked it, as if she was putting it back into place. The next few plays she kept her hand in a fist and had minimal ball touches. At a time out, they taped a few of her fingers together but she didn't take a shot again after that. Did anyone else notice or do we know what happened?

At 3:31 PM, Blogger BasketCases said...

Dear Betsy,

Yes, we also saw Katie grabbing her right hand after that play. No word on whether or to what extent she was injured. Let's hope it was nothing serious.

-- BC

At 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right now I would like to see less Marissa (I know they don't play the same position) and more Matee. At least Matee is playing with confidence and helps out on the defensive side. Right now Marissa is playing with no confidence at all. I know she has the skills to help this team out. It must be a mental thing.

At 1:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It must be a mental thing. She has the body frame to go to the basket more....get hit, make the free throws. She is too dependent on her jump shot. That's the biggest difference I see in Mo this year is her ability to take it to the basket. Last year she was shooting a million jump shots. This year she is driving to the basket much more. Even if she misses, she gets fouled and goes to the line. That's what Swin Cash's game. Marissa did it in college. Again, I understand this isn't college but I would think she has the skills to do this at the pro level. Again, she has the body frame. That's why she was the #2 pick.

At 1:55 PM, Blogger EdDC said...

Does anyone know why the Mystics did not go after Kristi Toliver when she became available? She was traded for a future #2 round draft choice. Both the Mystics' #2 round draft picks were cut this season, so that is not a high price tag.

If the Mystics had sunk a couple late baskets Saturday, they would have won. And Kristi can shoot!

At 6:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe CHI didn't want to send her to another Eastern Conference team. I don't know why we traded Nicki for Ashley Houtes.....neither one plays anyway.


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