The Washington Mystics’ woes are continuing, this time with a 91–70 defeat to the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday evening. As the 2019 WNBA champions took the court, the fans at Entertainment and Sports Arena rose to their feet to applaud the home team, a strange sight after such a long hiatus. But from there, there wasn’t much to write home about.
Back-to-back threes and a Brittney Griner two caused Mystics Head Coach Mike Thibault to call for an early timeout.
A slick steal by Leilani Mitchell turned into a four-on-two and a layup for Tina Charles. Out of the stoppage, the Mystics went on an 8–0 run before Diana Taurasi ended the streak with a deep shot. At the 6:48 mark of the first, Charles drove and hit a contested two to give her 6,000 career points, becoming just the 11th player in WNBA history to accomplish such a feat. The former MVP logged 10 points in the first, but Washington trailed by three.
There it is #️⃣ 6000 for @tinacharles31 #TogetherDC pic.twitter.com/ENaBGMlSqM— Washington Mystics (@WashMystics) May 19, 2021
The Mystics struggled from behind the arc through the second, as the team started the match with eight missed threes. After four minutes played in the frame, Ariel Atkins scored her 1000th career point, and she's only 24 years old. Natasha Cloud ended the team’s cold streak from deep at 4:59 to close the gap to two. Washington’s sleepy defense allowed Phoenix to go up six, a lead they pushed to nine before a Cloud buzzer-beater two saw the Mystics go into the locker room down, 44–37.
Point #️⃣ 1000 for little A!!#TogetherDC pic.twitter.com/ytpm0onSXT— Washington Mystics (@WashMystics) May 19, 2021
Atkins started the second half with a jab step for the half’s first basket. Down nine, Cloud hit a big three to rally the troops. Mitchell then poached the inbound and found Cloud, who netted a nifty reverse layup to cut the lead to five and force a Mercury timeout. With Phoenix pushing the pace, Charles turned Griner inside out in the paint, a move that got the fans up off their feet. Whenever the Mystics seemed to be scraping away at the lead, the Mercury had an answer; the team from the desert held the advantage after three.
Frustrations were on display early in the fourth as Cloud was called for a technical after she was tagged for a soft foul. After all five of Phoenix’s starters, led by Taurasi (17 points) scored in double digits, the Mystics’ never-give-in mentality wasn't enough to dig themselves out of a 19-point deficit that prevented Washington from earning win number one on the season.
Charles led the Mystics with 22 points and 12 rebounds while Natasha Cloud added 18 more.
The Mystics’ next game is on Friday, May 21st at 7 p.m. ET against the 3-0 New York Liberty and it will be televised on NBC Sports Washington.