Defending WNBA champ Sky is an excessive amount of for Mystics


CHICAGO — In some unspecified time in the future, the gantlet via the WNBA’s prime groups was certain to meet up with the Washington Mystics, who had feasted of late on top-shelf competitors within the common season’s stretch run.

However after stringing collectively a group of spectacular victories over two of the league’s prime 4 groups whereas making an attempt to chase down a prime postseason seed, the Mystics bumped into buzz noticed Friday evening within the type of the defending champion Chicago Sky, who overwhelmed Washington, 93-83, at Wintrust Area in a sport that wasn’t practically as shut as the ultimate rating advised.

“It felt like we had been flat,” Mystics Coach Mike Thibault mentioned. “We didn’t have an incredible observe [Thursday], and we performed like we practiced. It’s in all probability the primary unhealthy [game] I might say we’ve had in a protracted whereas the place we simply couldn’t generate the vitality.”

The Mystics — taking part in with out main scorer Elena Delle Donne, who was held out to relaxation for the ultimate three common season video games — had been unable to take care of the success they’d present in victories earlier this week over the Seattle Storm and Las Vegas Aces.

As an alternative, Washington (20-13) — led by Myisha Hines-Allen, who completed with 21 factors, and Shakira Austin’s 17 — was left gassed, chasing after the fast-paced Sky (24-Eight).

The reigning champs began quick, taking a 29-15 lead after one quarter. Thibault, helpless to do something however watch his workforce unable to maintain tempo, spent a lot of the second half close to the top of the Washington bench, fingers in pockets, principally speechless with what he noticed play out in entrance of him.

Whereas Chicago maintained its snug cushion with an array of perimeter capturing, together with 9 three-pointers in 22 makes an attempt, the Mystics had been unable to seek out any vary and completed the loss Eight for 24 from past the arc.

The Mystics had been unable to decelerate the league-leading Sky, who constructed a 23-point lead by the closing moments of the primary half. Chicago used a 14-2 run to interrupt the sport open, because the Mystics struggled to seek out any offensive rhythm whereas the Sky produced factors at a breakneck velocity.

The Mystics had been by no means in a position to minimize the Sky lead below double digits factors within the second half. The margin was greater than 20 factors for a lot of that point.

“Give Chicago credit score: They got here in able to go, they knocked down huge threes, the ball moved, they’d nice tempo to every part they did tonight they usually appeared — for a half, at the very least — like a method higher workforce,” Thibault mentioned.

Kahleah Copper paced Chicago with 19 factors to go together with 18 from Allie Quigley and 11 from Azura Stevens and Rebekah Gardner. Courtney Vandersloot and Emma Meesseman, the 2019 WNBA Finals MVP with the Mystics, rounded out the balanced Sky scoring assault with 10 factors apiece.

The Mystics, who entered Friday evening’s sport tied for the No. four seed with Seattle, might want to bounce again in fast order in the event that they hope to maintain tempo with the Storm. Washington hosts the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday at Leisure and Sports activities Area earlier than ending with back-to-back video games in opposition to the Indiana Fever, who’ve 5 victories and sit on the backside of the WNBA standings.

The Storm holds the common season tiebreaker over the Mystics, whose loss in opposition to Chicago was solely their second in seven video games. However after struggling their first double-digit loss since June 23, when the Mystics dropped an 85-71 loss to the Storm, Thibault will try to get his workforce to regroup with nonetheless extra work to be completed earlier than the playoffs arrive.

“I advised [the team] that our preparation for Sunday begins proper this minute,” Thibault mentioned. “… Mentally, they should get themselves again into the scouting report and get your sleep and get relaxation for 2 nights and attempt to get ourselves able to go.”

What sort of bounce-back effort he will get from the Mystics now that the hardest stretch of the schedule is out of the best way might decide how a lot momentum Washington can carry into the postseason.

Right here’s what else to know concerning the Mystics’ loss:

Mystic gamers mentioned after Friday’s sport that they’d not communicate concerning the loss however as a substitute wished to commit their time to discuss the 9-year sentence handed down in Russia to Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner.

Mentioned ahead Alysha Clark: “Clearly, the choice that occurred [Thursday] weighs very closely on the hearts of all of us as [Griner’s] sisters on this league, as pals … We’re going to proceed to name on President Biden to proceed to do no matter he can to get her and Paul [Whelan] dwelling and the entire different wrongfully detained People over there. We miss her, and there’s not even any phrases about how one can describe this.

“Sports activities ought to be a protected house, and no participant ought to be used as a political pawn, and so we’re going to proceed to elevate her up and we’re going to proceed to talk on her behalf and we’re going to proceed to have hope within the administration and that they’re going to get her dwelling swiftly and that they’re going to get her dwelling safely.”

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