Wizards

Mystics fall to Liberty

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Mystics fall to Liberty

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Trailing by nine points with about nine minutes remaining, a loss to last place Washington could have dealt a serious blow to the New York Liberty's playoff chances.

However, thanks to Cappie Pondexter, Nicole Powell and some stifling defense, the Liberty remain in control of their future.

Pondexter had 30 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, and 11 rebounds as the Liberty rallied to beat the Mystics 75-68.

"Defense is our key," Liberty coach John Whisenant said. "And Cappie. She's been awesome. She's our MVP and the most important player to her team of anybody in the league."

Powell scored 10 of her 18 points in the fourth quarter as well and Essence Carson added 15 points as New York (14-17) won its third straight.

The Liberty retained a one game lead over Chicago for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Sky beat Phoenix 86-55.

Jasmine Thomas scored 16 points (on 7-of-11 shooting) and Monique Currie had 12 to lead the Washington (5-27), which has lost 11 straight.

"I think we played a tough game. We fought through until the end," Currie said. "They executed better than we did. They made some tough shots, some big shots."

After Washington scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to take a 56-49 lead, Pondexter scored the first six of an 8-0 run by the Liberty. The Mystics pushed the lead to 63-58 with 4:36 left and New York called timeout.

"When it looked like they could take over the game with about four minutes left, we had a time out, talked about it, and regrouped," Pondexter said.

Powell's 3-pointer tied the score at 63 with 2:50 left and her short jumper gave the Liberty a 67-65 lead with 1:34 to play.

"Nicole made some huge shots down the stretch," Pondexter said.

After a miss by Currie, Kara Braxton scored on a layup off a nice pass from Pondexter to make it 69-65 with 48 seconds left.

"I think we stepped up our defensive intensity when it mattered most," Pondexter said.

Matee Ajavon missed a short jumper and Pondexter hit two three throws. Thomas's 3-pointer made it 71-68 with 19 seconds to go, but the Mystics got no closer.

"Coming into the stretch I don't know if it's a loss of focus, or what it is, but we have to figure it out," said Thomas.

The Liberty outrebounded the Mystics 13-4 in the fourth quarter.

"We only gave them one shot so we were blocking out well," Whisenant said. "Nicole Powell got a couple of rebound putbacks that were critical when the basket was shrinking up on us a little bit."

The Mystics' Ashley Robinson finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Washington outscored New York 19-12 in the third quarter and built a five-point lead as the Liberty hit just 5-of-22 field goals.

Washington played without leading scorer Crystal Langhorne (14.7 ppg), who left Friday's loss to Atlanta with a left foot sprain, and Noelle Quinn (6.5 ppg), out with an injured right shoulder.

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Will John Wall miss any games with his latest injury?

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USA Today Sports Images

Will John Wall miss any games with his latest injury?

With how poorly John Wall played on Friday night against the Miami Heat, it makes sense that there is a specific explanation why.

Wall, who went scoreless until 5:25 remaining in the fourth quarter, says he had little mobility in his left knee due to fluid buildup. It all stems from last weekend when he was administered two IVs by the Wizards' training staff so he could play against the Atlanta Hawks.

Wall was given the fluids to combat a bad cold that was compounded by a migraine headache. They didn't settle correctly and now the fluid has collected in his left knee.

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Now a week later, Wall is still feeling the effects.

"I could barely move out there," he said. "I was feeling like some s***."

Wall has been dealing with this for several days - he first mentioned it in an interview with NBC Sports Washington last weekend -  but said Friday was particularly bad due to it being chilly in Capital One Arena. The Wizards share a stadium with the NHL's Washington Capitals.

Wall was held to just eight points in the Wizards' 91-88 loss to Miami. He shot 3-for-12 from the field in 35 minutes.

Wall's eight points matched his lowest scoring output in a game since Dec. 12, 2014 when he had six. He has never been held scoreless in a game, but had zero points in the first 41:25 on Friday night.

With Wall admittedly not feeling well, the question now becomes whether he will miss any time. Fluid buildup isn't a serious injury, but the Wizards happen to have their first back-to-back games coming up on Sunday and Monday. They will play the Raptors and Bucks, two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.

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Wall said he has full confidence in the Wizards' training staff and the team's doctors to decide whether he will be good to go on Sunday for a 3:30 p.m. tipoff. It will depend on how he feels on Saturday after getting a night's rest.

But given the fact it's a back-to-back set and given that it's so early in the season, it would not be surprising if Wall missed one of those games. The Wizards have already beaten Toronto, ironically without Wall. With one win under their belt, they would at worst be tied in the season series with a loss.

Against Milwaukee, Wall may have more incentive to play given the season series. Head-to-head records determine tiebreakers for playoff seeding.

Whether Wall misses a game or not, this is another obstacle in a season full of minor injuries for Wall. He missed the game against the Raptors because he sprained his left shoulder in the game before. He has had migraines, has been sick, sprained his ankle on Monday vs. the Kings and now he can't shake this fluid buildup in his left knee. After a full offseason of being healthy, all of a sudden Wall is having some tough luck.

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John Wall said he could 'barely move' vs. Heat due to residual fluid buildup in his left knee

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John Wall said he could 'barely move' vs. Heat due to residual fluid buildup in his left knee

John Wall didn't score until there were five minutes left in the Wizards' narrow loss to the Heat. His lack of offensive production stood out as Washington struggled to catch up to Miami at Capital One Arena Friday. 

After the game, Wall blamed fluid buildup in his left knee for his inability to contribute. 

He told the assembled media that he could "barely move" at the beginning of the game. 

The knee ailment dates back to IVs he received this past weekend, Wall said. This isn't the first time he's mentioned the issue, either. 

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It first came up in a walkoff interview he did with NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller after the Wizards' win over the Kings. 

With road games in Toronto, Milwaukee and Charlotte next on the schedule, it's possible the Wizards training staff could consider resting Wall as a precaution.