The matchup: Last meets first Friday night (7 p.m. ET) at the Verizon Center as the Washington Mystics (2-9) host theConnecticutSun (9-3). Hosting the second game of a four-game homestand, the Mystics, losers of eight of their last nine games,are looking to break a four-game losing streak. Washington has also dropped five straight to a Connecticut team that has had a week to stew after afranchise-worst 34-point loss against Indiana. On June 3, the Mystics lost to the Sun in Connecticut, 84-86.Last time out: Olympian Sue Bird scored 25 points and the veteran Seattle Storm held off the Mystics 79-71. Crystal Langhorne led the Mystics with 20 points and 10 rebounds. After trailing by as many as 14 points in the first half, Mystics coach Trudi Lacey adjusted her second half lineup, sending out Langhorne and four reserves. The change worked early initially as Washington tied the game, hitting 7 of 10 shots starting the third quarter. Seattle weathered the surge with a barrage of 3-pointers and sealed the win by making 9 of 10 free throws inside the final two minutes. The Mystics finished on the short end of a 30-19 free disadvantage."We didn't start off well," Lacey said. "Anytime a team scores 30 points off the free throw line, that's tough."Post powers: In the previous meeting against the Sun, Langhorne, the Mystics leading scorer (16.5) scored a season-high 25 points. That was not enough to counter Connecticut center Tina Charles, who tallied a season-best 30 points. Charles ranks fifth in the WNBA in scoring with 19 points per game.
The Caps battled through the rust on Thursday to earn a point in New Jersey. On Friday, rust cost them yet again as they fell 3-2 to the Montreal Canadiens.
Here's why they lost.
4 shots on goal in the first period
Canadiens goalie Antti Niemi has had his struggles this season. Yes, he has played better since getting claimed off waivers by Montreal, but getting to play against Niemi instead of Carey Price wass a golden opportunity for the Caps to generate some offense. Washington, however, had very little offense to speak at the end of the night. How did they respond with Niemi in net? By getting only four shots in the first period. Four. They finished with 26 shots on goal for the game, but had they come out swinging in the first and put pressure up early on Niemi, they could have gotten a much different result.
After the game, Lars Eller said "It was one of the sloppiest games we've played if not the sloppiest. I don't think we've given up so any odd-man rushes or chances in one game." In no aspect were the Caps more sloppy than with their passing. Here are just a few examples.
A cross-ice backhand pass in the defensive zone? Really? You are not going to be successful trying to make those type of plays and it cost the Caps. They could not maintain possession of the puck or breakout of their zone and it led to several odd-man rushes for Montreal.
It's not an excuse. The Caps should have played better on Friday regardless, but there's no arguing the fact that rust was a factor. It was abundantly clear that the Caps were out of sync. That will happen when you are playing on the second leg of a back-to-back with no practice time.
Saturday's practice will be absolutely critical since Washington faces a matinee game on Sunday, their third contest in four days.
The Washington Wizards beat the Detroit Pistons 122-112 on Friday night. Here's analysis of what went down...
Changes were subtle: Many were surprised when head coach Scott Brooks decided to trot out the usual starting lineup after all the talk about making changes following their blowout loss to the Hornets on Wednesday, but that didn't mean Brooks was going to keep everything the same. He did adjust his rotation, it just took him a few minutes.
Center Marcin Gortat played four minutes in the first quarter before sitting the rest of the first half. After Markieff Morris began the game cold and missed his first three threes, Scott pulled him and got creative with his lineups.
Early in the second quarter we saw Tomas Satoransky, Jodie Meeks, Kelly Oubre, Otto Porter and Mike Scott in a super small-ball set... and it worked. After the Wizards went down by 15 points, that group exploded back by causing turnovers left and right and took the lead. Even Meeks, who has struggled all season, popped off for six points in his first five minutes.
Whether it was those moves or not, the Wizards came out in the third quarter a different team. They outscored the Pistons 45-28 in the frame and shot 16-for-21.
After going scoreless in the first half, John Wall exploded for 10 points in the third quarter and finished with 16 points and 11 assists for the game. Bradley Beal had 13 points in the third and Gortat had eight. Beal had 26 points for the game and Gortat had 13 points and nine rebounds.
The big third quarter propelled the Wizards to the win. They snapped a two-game slump and improved to 26-20 on the season.
Otto came to play: Brooks ripped into the Wizards following their loss on Wednesday and early on it seemed like most of the players didn't get the message. Porter was a major exception because he came out on fire.
Porter had 11 points, six rebounds and three steals by halftime. He was 3-of-4 from three and was all over the place on both ends of the court.
Porter ended up with 16 points. It was a great sign for the five-year pro, who hadn't reached double figures in six of his previous eight games. If Porter gets going offensively, the Wizards should be in good shape moving forward.
Look at the ball movement, y'all. pic.twitter.com/rREZYbYf39— NBC Sports Wizards (@NBCSWizards) January 20, 2018
Oubre, too: Oubre gets criticism from time to time about his mistakes on the court, when he gambles on defense or doesn't make the extra pass on offense. But what is never questioned is his effort, so it's no surprise he showed up when Brooks was looking for more energy from his team.
Oubre lit a spark with 11 points in the first half on 4-for-7 from the field in just under 16 minutes. He ended up with a career-high 26 points for the game. He shot 9-for-14 from the field and 5-for-9 from three. He also added five rebounds.
Oubre has been one of the Wizards' most consistent players recently. He has reached double figures in seven straight games and is averaging 16.3 points per game during that stretch.
Oubre has 15 points or more in four straight games, a career-high. This season he has 13 such games compared to seven in his previous two seasons combined.
If the Wizards continue to struggle in the big picture, Oubre will be knocking on the door to be inserted into the starting lineup. His improvement is also giving the Wizards a lot of options as they approach the trade deadline because if they want to move a starter, he could step right in.
Kelly Oubre is on fire tonight with 16 points in 19 minutes. Here he scores five quick points to end a huge third quarter for the Wizards. pic.twitter.com/qjPmRomjgB— NBC Sports Wizards (@NBCSWizards) January 20, 2018
Stocking up: The Wizards beat the Pistons for the third time this season, meaning they took the season series. That could come in handy if the Wizards need a playoff tiebreaker over the Pistons at the end of the season.
Up next: The Wizards are off through the weekend. Their next game is on Monday night at the Dallas Mavericks. Tipoff is at 8:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.
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