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Mystics hope to put together two halves of good basketball against Indiana

By Mark Giannotto,

Though the Washington Mystics’ 1-5 record to begin the 2012 regular season looks eerily similar to the 1-5 start they had to the 2011 season, presenting such a comparison to the team’s players and coaches is met with derision.

This group is different, with more experience and more fight, they say, pointing to losses against the defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx, Chicago Sky and New York Liberty in which the Mystics erased double-digit deficits only to fall short in the closing moments. But what Washington has come to realize during its current four-game losing streak is that, whether it’s in the standings or on the court, it’s taking much too long for these Mystics to show off what they consider to be an improved roster.

Washington has been outscored, 135-79, in the first quarter this season and enters Friday night’s matchup with the Indiana Fever at Verizon Center having led at halftime just twice in six games thus far.

The slow starts came to the forefront in the most recent defeat to the Liberty, in which the Mystics allowed 35 points and fell behind by 22 points in the first quarter. After the game, General Manager and Coach Trudi Lacey promised changes to the lineup and she delivered on her word Wednesday.

She waived starting point guard Dominique Canty, a 13-year veteran brought in during the offseason as part of a roster overhaul, and added guard Shannon Bobbitt to the roster.

The move will likely thrust guard Jasmine Thomas (Oakton High) into the starting lineup, but more changes could be on the horizon. Guard Matee Ajavon, the team’s second-leading scorer at 12 points per game, could also see her role change after being used as a sparkplug off the bench through six games.

“The bottom line is we have to find a combination and to come out with energy and execute in the beginning of the game so that we can stop getting in the hole,” Lacey said.

Center Michelle Snow, who responded to receiving her first start of the season by recording a double-double (10 points, 12 rebounds) against New York, said the problems early on in games stem from Washington not totally buying in to Lacey’s game plans from the opening tip.

If there is a bright side, these near comebacks have shown the Mystics what could be if they figure out how to put together two full halves of solid basketball. That, though, continues to be an elusive goal at this point.

“If we have the energy to come back from 20 points down, then we should be able to win these games,” Thomas said.

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