The Washington Mystics reduced the fouls and turnovers that plagued them Thursday but were still unable to end a streak of four double-digit defeats, losing, 81-64, to the Los Angeles Sparks tonight.
Losing for the eighth time in their last nine games, the Mystics dropped to 6-17 and fell into a tie for the WNBA's worst record and fifth place in the six-team Eastern Conference with Cleveland. The Rockers ended a three-game losing streak tonight with a 55-53 victory at Detroit.
Despite being outscored 10-2 at the start of the game, the Mystics remained competitive with the Sparks until midway through the second half. Guard Andrea Nagy's basket cut the Sparks' lead to 51-42 with 12 minutes 19 seconds remaining, but an 8-0 run assured the Sparks (16-6) of their franchise record-tying sixth consecutive victory and 13th triumph in their last 15 games.
Guard Nikki McCray led the Mystics with 19 points. Forward Chamique Holdsclaw added 15, all but four in the final 10:13. Playing before a crowd announced at 7,716 at the Forum for her first game in Southern California, Holdsclaw missed nine of her first 11 shots, making five of her last nine.
After committing 25 turnovers and 23 fouls in Thursday's 70-54 loss at Sacramento, the Mystics lowered those figures to 16 and 14 against the Sparks.
The Mystics were plagued by early shooting and rebounding problems, missing seven of their first eight shots and being outrebounded, 8-1, as Los Angeles took its 10-2 lead. Despite later runs of 9-2 and 5-0 by the Sparks, the Mystics outscored Los Angeles, 23-20, the remainder of the half. The Mystics closed the half with an 8-2 burst on baskets by Shalonda Enis, McCray, Murriel Page and Nagy, and trailed 30-25 at halftime.
"I thought for the most part we executed pretty well and did what we were supposed to do on defense," Mystics Coach Nancy Darsch said. "Obviously we did have some breakdowns, but I just think L.A. played very, very, well, and shot well in second half."
Los Angeles regained control at the start of the second half with six straight points as the Mystics committed two turnovers and missed two shots in their first four second-half possessions.
McCray and Enis's three-point baskets, and Page's layup cut the Sparks' lead to 40-33 with 16:37 remaining.
Los Angeles responded with a 7-0 spurt. The Mystics mounted one last challenge, as McCray hit a 15-foot jumper and a three-point basket while Nagy sank a 12-foot jumper and a driving layup to cut the deficit to single figures for the final time.
Forward Lisa Leslie had 15 points, La'Keshia Frett 12 and DeLisha Milton 10 for the Sparks, who completed a six-game homestand undefeated.
Box score on Page D14