She played Saturday night, fractured finger and all. And although she was able to dribble, finger roll and score nine points against Charlotte, Washington Mystics forward Chamique Holdsclaw said yesterday if she could do it over again, she would sit the game out.

Holdsclaw said her injured left index finger was sore yesterday after practice, but Mystics Coach Nancy Darsch said it was "most likely" Holdsclaw will start tonight's game against Orlando at MCI Center.

"I popped it again today, so it's definitely sore," Holdsclaw said. "But I've just got to play through it, you know? I know this team needs me. Whatever I've got to give, I've got to give."

"I'm sure it would have been better [for the finger if Holdsclaw hadn't played], but I didn't realize she was in any pain," Darsch said. "But that's the thing with a broken finger. It's going to have some up days and some down days until she has some time away from the game to let it heal."

Wearing a brace on the finger, Holdsclaw played 24 minutes during the Mystics' 63-56 loss at Charlotte. She jammed it midway through the first half when she bumped into a Sting player, but Holdsclaw had it re-taped and kept playing. Although she had six rebounds to go with her nine points, she made just 3 of 10 field goal attempts. Holdsclaw said the injury, which is on her non-shooting hand, affects her touch on her shots because she pushes too hard with her right wrist in the shooting motion.

"My touch, my feel for the ball is a little off," Holdsclaw said. "The sensation is definitely different, especially with [the brace] on it. It affects my timing, because I usually jam the ball with that hand waiting to make a move. But I've just got to go out there and play. I don't know. There's no answer to it."

While Holdsclaw may have to test the finger in games, she won't have to as much in practice. Darsch said that because her team is fatigued, she will shorten practices from three hours to two for the rest of the season. Tonight's game against Orlando (7-8), is Washington's third in four days. After a home game against Cleveland Wednesday, the Mystics (5-11) will play six games in 11 nights, all on the road.

"Coming back [from the all-star break] with one day of practice and playing three games in four nights is very tiring mentally and physically," Darsch said. "We won't practice for three hours [a day] the rest of the season.

"But we have 16 games left and we're at the halfway point, so we have to focus on that half of it's gone, and we need to get some home wins here."

Darsch acknowledged that the Mystics were tired during the first half against Charlotte, in which both teams set an WNBA record for fewest points in a half (39). Washington appeared to rush shots, missing nine consecutive shots at one point.

The fact that the team is playing Orlando, which it hasn't seen since losing on the road to the Miracle, 73-68, on June 19, may be a boost.

"It can be refreshing, but it's also a whole new preparation and a whole new mental approach, which, when you're tired, is difficult to do," Darsch said. " . . . We're trying to keep it short, but an hour and a half [of practice] is minimal at this point. . . . You have to try to stay mentally sharp."

"Being tired is all a mental thing," said forward Murriel Page, whose personal-best three game double-double streak ended against Charlotte. "You've got to be positive. Some other team somewhere is practicing, and if you stop or let that fatigue get to you, that other team is going to be better."