When the Mystics and the Lynx tipped off tonight, both teams were in 4th place in their respective conferences, precariously clinging to that last playoff position. By halftime, the Mystics were down by 11 (40-29), having played an extremely sloppy 20 minutes. They turned the ball over 16 times . . . leading to 16 first-half points for Minny. It certainly looked as though the Mystics were the team that would give up some ground to their conference rivals in the playoff race tonight.
But during the break, BC Eileen fished around in her bag and found her Glow-in-the-Dark Magic Mystics Flashing Bracelet from Camp Day. As the 2nd half started, she put it on, waved it around on each Mystics possession, and repeated the magic words: "Good Mystics Karma" . . . and that seemed to do the trick.
The Mystics turned in a stronger performance during the third quarter, outscoring the Lynx 21-12 and narrowing Minny's lead to only 2 at the start of the final period. The Lynx maintained a slim lead for most of that last quarter, but neither team was able to find any offensive rhythm. (In fact, tonight's fourth period combined scoring total of 17 points tied the WNBA record for the fewest points scored in a fourth quarter.)
It may have been ugly
, but it was still a tension-filled, on the edge of your seat, nail-biter of a period. The lack of offense meant that every basket, every free throw, every bad call, might end up being the one that decided the game (and potentially whether a team made the playoffs). When the Mystics closed the gap to 2 points with 1:43 remaining, the fans were either screaming at the top of their lungs or holding their breath. Everybody was gasping for air. When the Mystics took the lead
on a Katie Smith
3-pointer in the final 43 seconds, the Phone Booth went wild
. With Mystics fans on their feet screaming, those remaining 43 seconds seemed an eternity: Minny got the ball back, could not score, could not inbound, and finally a foul sent Lang
to the line shooting two. Crystal
nailed them both, which meant that the Lynx needed a three to tie. They missed. They fouled Lang
again. She missed. Jump ball. Lynx got off one more shot. A miss! Mystics win, 61-58
! (Breathing resumed.
) Wow! Who knew that so little offense could generate such excitement!
Lindsey Harding led Washington's scoring with 15 points. Lang once again turned in a double-double (12 points and 14 boards), and Katie rounded out the double-digit scoring with 11.
Except for the fact that it was an important come-from-behind win (with major playoff implications), this would be a game the players and their fans would most likely want to forget. The Mystics committed 23 turnovers. They shot only 36% from the floor, and the Lynx shot only 30%. The Mystics scored only 11 points in the fourth quarter, while the Lynx only scored 6. (As we said, a record!) 61 points usually isn't enough to win, but tonight, that's all that was needed for the Mystics to pick up another W.
And what a huge W it was, tying the franchise record for most wins in a season (18), and securing only the third winning season for the Mystics in franchise history. (Yes, only 3 winning seasons in 13 years.)
Most important, the Mystics' win tonight kept 5th place Connecticut (which beat Seattle) still three games behind the Mystics with four games left to play. And because the Liberty beat the Dream, the Mystics have leapfrogged over Atlanta into third place in the East, a half game ahead of Atlanta. Nevertheless, the Mystics haven't yet secured a playoff berth.
So yes, every game remains critical. And the next game is at home, on Sunday at 4 PM against the Seattle Storm, which has already locked up a playoff berth, clinched the Western Conference regular season title and secured home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. The Mystics need everyone to come out on Sunday to cheer . . . and bring diapers.
That's right, diapers!The Bus Stops Here!
Well, to be more precise, the March of Dimes' Mama and Baby Bus will be stopping at the Verizon Center on Sunday, just in time for the 4 PM game against the Storm.
Why the visit? Well, the Mystics are partnering with CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield on Sunday to hold a diaper drive to benefit the Bus, which is the City's only prenatal and dental mobile unit. Parking in six different locations each week, the Mama and Baby Bus provides free prenatal and dental care to pregnant women in Wards 1, 2, 4, and 5.
The first 150 fans to donate diapers on Sunday will be invited to a post-game autograph session, and the fan who donates the most diapers will get to have dinner at Morton's with a Mystics player of her choice on a future, mutually agreeable date. (Steak! Yummy! They do have seafood entrees in case you win and want to dine with Nakia.) Everyone else who brings diapers to the game will have the enormous satisfaction of knowing that they've helped a very worthy cause.
Bring diapers! (New . . . no used ones, please.) Fill the Bus!
And, Go Mystics . . . Beat the Storm!