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Mystics go cold in fourth, lose WNBA finals rematch to Storm in last seconds

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Mystics go cold in fourth, lose WNBA finals rematch to Storm in last seconds

The Mystics ran it back. Almost.

In their first rematch with the Seattle Storm since being shut out at in the WNBA Finals last season, Washington let the game slip away from them late to lose their second game in a row.

Despite another well-rounded game from Elena Delle Donne (19 points) and 14 points off the bench for Aerial Powers, losing Kristi Toliver to an ejection early in the game plus a handful calls that had the crowd in Southeast D.C. all but pleased proved to be too much for the Mystics.

It was a game of runs to start, with consistent lead changes through the first half. Then, the Mystics pulled away, ahead by eight at halftime and building a lead as large as 12 in the third quarter.

Things were going Washington’s way. Could they run it back?

Delle Donne made a driving layup to close the third quarter and drilled jumper to open the fourth that to give the Mystics a 13 point lead at 65-52. But then the Storm scored 12 of the next 14 points.

With less than four minutes to go in the game, the lead was down to one possession for the Mystics. 

Washington missed bucket after bucket.

It was clear that they could have used Toliver, one of their best players, on the court. The Mystics scored just eight points to close the last quarter, compared to the Storm’s 22. 

A go-ahead jumper buy Jewell Lloyd gave the Storm a 73-71 lead with 8.6 seconds left, and despite having a near-open look at the basket to tie the game, Aerial Powers missed the driving floating jump shot.

“That was bad basketball. We shot it terribly. Our defense wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t great when we needed it most to be,” said Mystics head coach Mike Thibault after the game.

“We did a great job in the first half of taking care of the basketball and moving the ball. Second half we moved the ball, but missed shot after shot after shot. When you score eight points in the fourth quarter it’s hard. We had five turnovers in the fourth quarter to add to that and I don’t know that our clock management was very good,”  he added. “Just those things -- that’s not good basketball.”

Instead of moving to 5-0 at home, Washington falls to 4-1. They’re now 4-3 on the season.

Thibault lamented that the team now to “make up for it somewhere in the next month.”

“You’ve gotta get one that maybe no one expects you to win and now you’ve gotta go get one of those somehow. Because we gave one tonight. Credit Seattle for hanging in, but I think as much as anything, when you shoot the ball like we did, it’s hard to win the game,” Thibault added.

The Mystics finished the game shooting 34.8 percent from the field compared to the Storm’s 46 percent.

The Mystics head out west to face the Los Angeles Sparks on Tuesday and the Las Vegas Aces on Thursday. They then have two more away games before returning home to face the Connecticut Sun on June 29. The Sun blew out the Mystics to open the WNBA season last month, and they’re currently 6-1 and atop the Eastern Conference Division.

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3 biggest moments in Wizards 125-121 loss to Magic

3 biggest moments in Wizards 125-121 loss to Magic

The Washington Wizards couldn't continue their winning ways against the Orlando Magic on Sunday, falling despite an admirable comeback attempt. 

Here are the game's top three moments. 

Brad Beal injury scare

Bradley Beal has been on a scoring tear of late, notching consecutive 44-point outputs against the Celtics and Timberwolves. But before he could really get going Sunday night, he had an injury scare after rolling his right ankle. 

Beal is far and away the most important player on the roster given John Wall's long rehab from an achilles injury, so an ankle injury would seriously hinder the Wizards chances at staying in games. Thankfully, he stayed out on the court and almost orchestrated an admirable fourth quarter comeback with some smooth shooting from deep. His 34 points were a game high. 

Boost from the Bench

The Wizards have plenty of offensive contributors in the starting five, and on the bench. The second unit trio of CJ Miles, Moritz Wagner and Davis Bertans produced 48 points on the night. Miles was feeling it from deep, going 6-7 from behind the arc to offset some shooting troubles from Troy Brown Jr., who had two points on 1-5 FGM.

Despite only combining for eight points on the night, Brown Jr. was able to connect with rookie Rui Hachimura for a highlight-reel alley-oop

Local Product Markelle Fultz seals the game

D.C. native and Dematha alum Markelle Fultz seems to be settling into the Orlando Magic offense. With 19 points, a career-high two 3-pointers and some great transition basketball, Fultz terrorized the Wizards backcourt all night long. Although it's clear this roster wasn't built for defense, the strategy of leaving Fultz wide open for uncontested threes certainly backfired. 

Beal, on an impressive shooting hot streak down the stretch and only down three with under a minute to go, has his kickout pass deflected by Fultz, who then sealed the game with a dunk over Bertans on the other end. 

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Rui Dunk Tracker: Troy Brown Jr. lobs it to Hachimura for the alley-oop

Rui Dunk Tracker: Troy Brown Jr. lobs it to Hachimura for the alley-oop

Rookie sensation Rui Hachimura has been an inside menace for opposing forwards early in his fledgling NBA career. That didn't change against the Orlando Magic on Sunday night. 

The first dunk came off a beautifully crafted pick and roll with Troy Brown Jr., who lobbed it up for a Hachimura alley-oop. Some great chemistry from the young guys there. 

The Japanese international is averaging 13.8 ppg and 5.7 rpg through his first 10 games, shooting an efficient 50.8% from the field during that stretch. More offensive athleticism like this will do well to take a load off Bradley Beal's shoulders. Beal scored back-to-back 44-point games in a Boston loss and win against Minnesota, but will need more help from his teammates if the Wizards want to improve on their 3-7 record. He scored 13 points in the first half versus Orlando. 

The No. 9 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft has been a matchup headache for defenders with his combination of size and speed. Deployed at the four, he's been both too fast for bigger defenders and too strong for smaller defenders. 

Here's to hoping for more Hachimura dunks in the games ahead!

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