Mystics find key pieces falling into place in win over Dream
The Washington Mystics are starting to look a lot more like the league-best team they were in June.
In her second game back since breaking her nose, forward Elena Delle Donne led the Mystics to a knockout victory over the Atlanta Dream 93-65 Sunday at the Entertainment and Sports Arena.
“It is kind of like the beginning to our season because everyone is here together,” Mystics guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough said. “We are trying to build on what we have been doing and continuing to get better.”
Delle Donne led the Mystics with 28 points, sinking all four of her shots from the three-point line. Forward Tianna Hawkins added 13 points and three rebounds.
Mystics guard Kristi Toliver was glad to have Delle Donne on the court, but Ariel Atkins missed Sunday’s contest because of left Achilles tendonitis.
“It is important to have our whole team together,” Toliver said. “We have had people in and out with injuries and stuff; it is hard to put together wins and put together camaraderie. We need everybody to get what we want. Delle Donne is certainly a huge part of that.”
Delle Donne missed time after breaking her nose two weeks ago in the first quarter of a game against the Los Angeles Sparks.
Delle Donne’s absence sent the Mystics skidding into their longest losing streak of the season, three games.
But when she returned Friday wearing a protective facemask, she scored 28 in an overtime win against the Indiana Fever. Kim Mestdagh and Emma Meesseman also rejoined the squad earlier this month after wrapping up commitments to their teams in Europe.
The Mystics will be on the road for three out of their next four, starting Wednesday against the Minnesota Lynx.
“Minnesota is always a tough team play so we’re going to need to carry this energy to the next game,” small forward Aerial Powers said. “We’re all excited about it. We were talking about one more win before All-Star and then we get a little break.”
Walker-Kimbrough, a Maryland product who had nine points off the bench, said she feels the Mystics can make a title push with Delle Donne back. The Mystics lost in the conference finals last season to Seattle. The Mystics are now 11-6 and currently the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.
“Absolutely. That is our motto, bring it back from last year. We want to continue to build on that. I feel (Delle Donne) is the best in the league,” Walker-Kimbrough said. “She makes the game a lot easier for us.”