When youre the WNBAs lowest scoring team, succeeding on defense is a must. In the Washington Mystics last outing against Atlanta, that was so not the case. Earlier this month against their next opponent, the Mystics had similar issues when it came to allowing points. Off since Friday, the Mystics (5-18) return to action Tuesday night at Indiana, a locale they have little recent success. On August 16, Washington allowed nine 3-pointers while committing 16 turnovers compared to nine assists in an 84-66 loss to the Fever (14-8). Indiana has won four straight games in the series on its home court.Help is on the way though maybe not in time for the Fever. Washington signedWNBA veteran forward and 3-point threat Iziane Castro Marques on Sunday.Starting with the previous setback against the Fever, the Mystics have lost four of five games since returning from the Olympic break. The latest defeat, 81-69 at home against Atlanta is one of those where the final score is not a true indicator of the action. Washington committed nine of its 18 turnovers in the first quarter, trailed by double figures after every quarter and by 28 points in the third quarter. The miscues led directly to 25 points for the Dream, who also scored 40 points in the paint, many on easy buckets."If you can't take care of the ball, you can't make shots,'' said Washington's Monique Currie, who scored 14 points. "We can't get shots, we're not getting back on defense. They had a layup clinic.''Washington sits four games behind Chicago for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.Matee Ajavon scored 16 of her game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter against the Dream, leading a rally that had the Mystics down 77-69 inside the final minute before time ran out."It was pretty tough to come back from that deficit,'' Ajavon said. That loss is pretty hard.''The addition of Castro Marques should at least make putting the ball in the basket less hard for a team averaging only 70 points per game. Signed on Sunday, the nine-year WNBA veteran averaged 10.0 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game for her career. The 6-foot forward helped Atlanta reach consecutive WNBA Finals and shot 54 percent from 3-point range during last years playoffs.Collectively this season the Mystics are shooting 30.6 percent from beyond the arc. Indiana ranks second in the WNBA at 41 percent.Castro Marques sat out the first half of the WNBA season in preparation for the Olympics, but she was kicked off the Brazilian national team for violating team rules.Currie led the Mystics with 12 points in the loss to the Fever this month. Crystal Langhorne, Washingtons leading scorer and rebounder on the season, finished with four points and three rebounds in the loss.Indiana forward Tamika Catchings posted a double-doublewith 14 points and 14 rebounds against Washington earlier this month. The Olympic gold medalist totaled 15 points and nine boards in a 67-66 loss at the Vereizon Center on June 15.
NEW ORLEANS—Here are my five main takeaways from the Redskins stunning overtime loss to the Saints
It’s everybody’s fault—When the game ended my Twitter timeline exploded with people venting and blaming the offense or the defense or the play calling or Kirk Cousins for the blowing the game. But it’s not as simple as pointing the finger at the third and one run that didn’t work or the grounding call on Cousins or the inability to get pressure on Drew Brees during the Saints’ final three drives. You don’t have enough fingers to point to everything that went wrong. When you blow a 15-point lead with six minutes left, it’s a total team collapse. It’s everyone.
Chris Thompson a huge loss—He’s not just the team’s leading rusher and leading receiver. Thompson is part of the heart and soul of the locker room. He’ll talk to anyone in the media any day and give thoughtful, intelligent answers. At age 27, Thompson is the “old man” in the running back room and the other backs looked to him for knowledge and as an example to follow. The Redskins have overcome a lot of injuries this year but this one might be the toughest to deal with.
READ MORE: THIS REDSKINS LOSS LITERALLY DEFIED THE ODDS
No defense—It’s hard to figure out who on defense to blame for the Saints’ last two drives of regulation. It was just a Brees blitzkrieg. In the two drives, he was 11 for 11 for 164 yards and the two touchdowns. Without knowing the coverage calls it was hard to tell who was supposed to be covering the players who caught the ball because they weren’t anywhere near the receivers. There was virtually no pass rush and poor coverage. That turned out to be a fatal combination.
A good performance by Cousins—It’s hard for me to pin much of the blame here on Cousins, even though he is getting a lot of it. If you help put up 31 points and throw a touchdown pass that puts your team up by 15 points with just under six minutes to play, I think you’ve done your job. The grounding call we’ll discuss right here.
There should have been no penalty for intentional grounding—We can debate the audible call and whether Cousins should have thrown the ball all day. But that was not intentional grounding. That penalty requires that the passer be “facing an imminent loss of yardage due to pressure [and] throws a forward pass without a realistic chance of completion.” That’s from the rule book. Cousins was not facing an imminent loss of yardage; he took the snap and threw the ball immediately. The play does not fit the definition of the rule. I’m also confused by the 10-second runoff. It’s always been my understanding that the runoff was only enforced in situations where the penalty stops a moving clock. Jamison Crowder had gone out of bounds on the previous play so the clock was not running. I’m not positive that referee Walt Coleman blew that aspect of the call but he did make a mistake is throwing the grounding flag in the first place.
Kirk Cousins and his coaching staff picked a really, really bad time to mix up their signals on Sunday vs. the Saints.
With less than a minute left and the Redskins on the edge of field goal range, Cousins dropped back to pass and lofted the ball to the right sideline. The problem was that the area wasn't occupied by any Redskins receivers.
So, after a brief conference, the refs decided to flag Washington's QB for intentional grounding, a penalty that effectively doomed their chances of kicking a game-winning field goal. New Orleans would, of course, go on to finish off the 'Skins in overtime.
Afterward, Cousins took to the podium inside of the Superdome to try and explain what went wrong on that sequence.
"We had a run play called, and based on the defensive look they were giving, it was gonna be a tough run to get, and we were probably gonna get stuffed and have to clock it and hope for the best for the field goal," he said (his comments can be seen in the video above).
"I looked over to the sideline out of the corner of my eye and saw the coaches saying, 'Throw it,' and they wanted, potentially, an audible, get to an actual pass play," he continued. "I thought they were saying if you just throw it by Jamison [Crowder], in the general area of Jamison, there's an eligible [receiver] in the area and there's no penalty."
So, according to Cousins, the miscommunication wasn't between him and Crowder, which is what most assumed during the game. Crowder was simply going to block, which was his assignment for the run play that the offense originally went to the line with.
The issue actually occured between the passer and the sidelines, with Cousins not catching onto his coaches' desire for him to audible into a pass. That's the explanation he's giving, at least. And that late slip-up will unfortunately be what most remember from a day where No. 8 was mostly on-point.