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Delle Donne's return fuels Mystics's 97-76 rout over Dream

Delle Donne's return fuels Mystics's 97-76 rout over Dream

Elena Delle Donne had 15 points and 10 rebounds in her return from a bone bruise in her left knee and the Washington Mystics forced a decisive Game 5 with a 97-76 win over the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA semifinal series.

Delle Donne started, played 34 minutes, sank 3 of 5 three-point attempts and scored 11 points in the second half after sitting out Friday's 81-76 loss. She suffered the injury in the final minutes of Atlanta's 78-75 Game 2 victory.

The 2015 WNBA Most Valuable Player award winner sported a bulky brace on her left knee. She failed to score until less than four minutes remained in the first half, but her presence immediately helped open the floor for teammates.

Washington shot 50 percent from the field overall. Ariel Atkins scored 19 points, Natasha Cloud 13 and LaToya Sanders 10.

Kristi Toliver led the Mystics with 22 points as all five starters scored in double figures. Washington pulled away with a 28-10 run in the second half for its largest lead at 90-67 after Atlanta closed within five points.

The series shifts back to Atlanta for the finale of the best-of-5 series on Tuesday. The Mystics have never reached the WNBA finals in the franchise's 21 seasons.

Tiffany Hayes and Renee Montgomery each scored 12 points for the Dream.

Atlanta remains one victory away from the franchise's fourth finals appearance and first since 2013. Brittney Sykes and Jessica Breland also scored 12 points.

The Mystics raced out to a 26-12 lead in the second quarter and entered halftime up 44-35. Toliver, who had only seven points on 3 of 15 shooting in Game 3 topped all scorers with 12 points in the first half.

Delle Donne's second of three 3-pointers stifled Atlanta's momentum after the Dream's 10-0 run cut Washington's lead to 62-57 with 2:04 left in the third.

TIP-INS

Toliver and Cloud, Washington's starting backcourt, combined to make 13 of 26 shots after finishing 4 of 22 in Game 3. The Mystics outrebounded the Dream 40-31. Atlanta shot 14 of 25 on free throws. Washington turned Atlanta's nine first-half turnovers into 12 points while the Dream scored one point off the Mystics' eight miscues.

WHAT'S NEXT

The teams split the first two games in Atlanta, though Washington held a double-digit lead in Game 2 before losing. Delle Donne averaged 29.5 points and 13.5 rebounds in Atlanta.

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Report: NBA likely to use new All-Star format again, will discuss using it in G-League

Report: NBA likely to use new All-Star format again, will discuss using it in G-League

If you were a fan of the NBA's new format for the All-Star game, which featured a target score to decide the winner instead of a clock, you might be in luck. 

According to Zach Lowe of ESPN, the NBA is likely to use the target score format again in next year's All-Star game. The NBA's president of league operations Byron Spruell told Lowe it's a 'good assumption' we see this format again. 

In its maiden voyage, the target score was a smashing success. The NBA has struggled to make the All-Star game entertaining and intense enough for the best players in the world to try. By adding 24 points onto the leading team's score at the end of the third and saying, "First one to this number wins," it sparked the competitive fire in the league's biggest stars and made for an unforgettable basketball moment. 

The target score is very similar to the "Elam Ending," created by Ball State University professor Nick Elam. The Basketball Tournament, a winner-take-all event held over the summer, has used the Elam Ending for the last two years.

Chris Paul suggested using the format in the All-Star game to commissioner Adam Silver, and now the target score ending has a chance at making it to the G-League. 

Lowe also includes in the story that the NBA will discuss using the target score system in the G-League, the league's developmental league. However, concerns about making G-League play too different from play in the NBA make it unlikely for a full adaptation of the target score system. 

Spruell did say a possible first step would be using the system at the annual G-League Showcase, which usually takes place in December. 

To go even further down the rabbit hole of hypothetical changes to NBA games, the NBA will also reportedly discuss using target scores in the elimination rounds of a midseason tournament. In late December, the NBA propose massive schedule changes to the league's owners including shortening the regular season to 78 games and introducing a midseason tournament. 

The owners still have to approve the changes before any target scoring system can be implemented. 

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Wizards congratulate Marcin Gortat on retirement with tribute video

Wizards congratulate Marcin Gortat on retirement with tribute video

Following Marcin Gortat's retirement from basketball, the Wizards and Capitals made sure to congratulate him on wrapping up a 12-year career. 

Gortat spent five seasons with the Wizards from 2013-2018, averaging 11.6 points and 9.2 rebounds during his time in D.C. He was a reliable roll man f next to John Wall and helped lead the team to four straight playoff appearances. 

After spending a short time with the Clippers last season, The "Polish Hammer" decided to retire earlier this week. He did not play in the NBA this year. 

Could there be a Gortat appreciation night at Capital One Arena sometime soon? Wizards fans probably wouldn't oppose. 

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