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Mystics lose a close one while Natasha Cloud continues her assist streak

Despite the Mystics’ loss to the Sparks on Sunday, Natasha Cloud continued her streak of games where she dishes five or more assists.

Los Angeles Sparks v Washington Mystics
Natasha Cloud continues to dish many assists for the Mystics.
Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

Since being drafted by the Washington Mystics in 2015, Natasha Cloud has always been one of the best passers in the WNBA. She started her career by leading all rookies in assists at 3.4 per game. From there, she continued to be one of the Mystics leaders in assists every season and has helped head coach Mike Thibault lead multiple offenses that registered over a 100 offensive rating.

Since being a part of the championship team in 2019, she’s had 11, double-digit assist games, which is second in the WNBA.

“I think she’s played with teammates that she knows where they’re good at, and she knows where to get them the ball,” said Mystics General Manager and Head Coach Mike Thibault.

This season she leads the WNBA in assists, totaling five assists per game in all but four games. She wasn’t named an All-Star, but many WNBA stars think she was snubbed, including players on other teams.

In this game, the Mystics are facing off against the Los Angeles Sparks, and they started slow, but Cloud’s dazzling assist got the team and crowd behind the team early. Her energy was excellent, and after dropping a bounce pass to Shakira Austin, she scored a layup while getting fouled to put the Mystics up 13-12.

After the first quarter, Cloud produced 3 points, two assists, and two rebounds. The game was tied at 19 points, and the Entertainment and Sports Arena was exhilarated after every made basket.

In the second quarter, the Mystics went down by as much as 13 points. But, the shooting of Ariel Atkins and furious defense by Cloud helped them march back into the contest. Atkins had 13 points at the end of the second quarter to lead the team, and Cloud had one block to help bolster the on-ball defense.

Coming out of halftime, the team gained some needed energy from a huddle before the game resumed. Cloud was talking to her fellow starters to help energize them to make a run in the second half.

“Natasha is one of my favorites, just not as a basketball player but a leader as a whole, keeping the whole team together,” said Los Angeles Sparks interim head caochFred Williams. “What makes her stand out is that she sees the whole floor, makes everybody better, passes the basketball well, and defensively she gets at it.”

But the Sparks came into this game, leading the WNBA in steals, making it difficult to pass the ball into the paint. The Mystics have tried to feature Elena Della Donne, but after multiple batted passes and missed shots, the team decided to try another strategy.

Washington ran the fastbreak offense by Shakira Austin and Natasha Cloud to perfection. The Mystics rank last in the WNBA in pace, but in this game, they tried to capitalize anytime they got a 2-on-1. Cloud ended the third quarter by leading both teams in assists with seven, and Austin is second on the Mystics with 15 points.

The Mystics were storming back down from double digits in the fourth quarter. Cloud hit an emotional and-one layup to bring the game within three, and she let the crowd know it. Natasha was yelling at the referees all game and almost fouled out the game in the fourth quarter.

Cloud took the game’s last shot to try and put it into overtime. But, after not getting a foul called, the referees would declare the game over with Washington losing 79-76.

But, Cloud recorded nine assists today, which extended her consecutive assist streak of at least five to 24 games.