Washington cruises to easy win over New York
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — Elena Delle Donne scored 25 of her 30 points in the first half and the Washington Mystics cruised to a 93-77 win over the New York Liberty on Tuesday night.
Ariel Atkins added 23 points for the Mystics (24-8), who have clinched a top-two seed for the playoffs and extended their lead over second place Connecticut to 1½ games. The season ends Sunday.
Washington raced to a 31-19 lead after one quarter and with Delle Donne scoring 17 points in the second quarter stretched the advantage to 58-40 at the break.
Delle Donne and LaToya Sanders both had 10 rebounds as the Mystics dominated the boards 42-23.
Marine Johannes led the Liberty (9-23), which has lost five straight and 13 of 14, with a career-high 22 points. The rookie from France had scored 21 points in her previous game.
The Mystics, who have won four straight, signed Tianna Hawkins, a former first-round pick, to a contract extension through the 2020 season, then rested her against the Liberty. Kristi Toliver missed her ninth straight game because of a knee injury that is expected to keep her out until the playoffs.
STORM 82, MERCURY 70
PHOENIX (AP) — Natasha Howard scored 11 of her 22 points in the first quarter and the Storm got off to a strong start en route to a win over the Mercury.
Seattle (17-15) moved into a tie with Minnesota for the sixth seed and holds the tiebreaker. The Mercury (15-17) will finish eighth. When the playoffs open next week, the fifth and sixth seeds have home games and the seventh and eighth seeds are on the road in the single-elimination first round.
The Storm shot 58% in the first quarter to 39% for the Mercury and steadily pulled away. It was 50-35 at halftime and the margin was 20 entering the fourth quarter.
Brittney Griner had 22 points for Phoenix.
Before the game the Storm announced Sue Bird, who had preseason knee surgery, would not play this season.
It was Women of Inspiration night in Phoenix with the Mercury players wearing custom shoes dedicated to the women who inspired them.
SPARKS 70, DREAM 60
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Candace Parker and Chiney Ogwumike each had double-doubles and Los Angeles overcame a slow start to beat the last-place Dream in a game that put the Sparks in position to earn a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Parker had 21 points and 11 rebounds, Ogwumike 17 and 10. Ogwumike started for her sister Nneka, who was out with an illness that sidelined her for the second half of the team’s last game against Las Vegas.
After trailing by 11 after one quarter, the Sparks rallied in the second quarter, took the lead in the third and held off Atlanta to move a full game ahead of fifth-place Chicago with two games to play.
The Sparks (20-12) have won 12 straight at home, where they play their last two games. Los Angeles coach Derek Fisher became the ninth WNBA head coach to get to 20 wins in their first season. The record is 29 by the Sparks’ Michael Cooper in 2000.
Atlanta shot 55% in the first quarter to 33% for the Sparks but a 7-0 run helped Los Angeles take a brief lead before the Dream took a 35-34 lead into the break. It was 51-45 for the Sparks after three quarters. The teams combined to go 7 of 40 from 3-point range.
Alex Bentley, who did not score in the second half, and Elizabeth Williams each had 15 points for Atlanta (7-25). The Dream are having their worst season since their inaugural season of 2008 (four wins).