Lynx 73, Mystics 62
Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
It took most of the first half for the scoreboard at Target Center to display individual statistics from Friday's game between the Mystics and Minnesota Lynx -- which meant the board showed up for work just a few minutes before Washington did.
If Washington's effort in the first five minutes had been even close to the energy it expended trying to erase the effects of its lackluster start, the Mystics might have left with a win. Then again, nothing in the team's history so far this season suggests Washington can be counted on for a strong opening.
Minnesota (2-2) opened the game on an 18-2 run, with Katie Smith scoring eight points before the Mystics hit a field goal, and the Lynx survived a bumpy second half to win, 73-62, before 6,361.
It was the second straight game in which the Mystics have trailed by 10 or more in the first half. Washington also blew a 14-point first-half lead in a 68-67 win over Indiana last Sunday.
"It looks like we have to get better energy from our bench, because our starters have not come out with the frame of mind that we have to play defense to start a game," Mystics first-year coach Michael Adams said.
Chamique Holdsclaw, who averaged 23.7 points per game in the Mystics' first three contests, scored 16. She and Stacey Dales-Schuman were the only Mystics players in double figures. Washington shot 37 percent from the field, including a 3-for-18 performance from three-point territory.
Minnesota, by comparison, made 8 of 14 threes.
The Mystics (1-3) scored 28 points off 23 Lynx turnovers and got within one early in the second half but never led. Smith scored a game-high 28 points and made all 12 of her free throws.
Adams stressed a need for improved rebounding at Thursday's practice, and he got it -- the Mystics grabbed 31 boards, three more than their season average.
But part of the improvement was merely Washington picking up after itself -- 12 of its rebounds were on the offensive end.
Rookie forward Alana Beard scored her only two points on a layup with 31 seconds left. Beard got in foul trouble early and gave Adams no real reason to keep her in late. She was 1 for 8 from the field and was victimized by Smith during the game's opening stretch.
"Katie Smith is a great player, and I guess she taught a rookie tonight," Beard said. "I don't think I was ever in a groove."
Washington's first field goal didn't come until Dales-Schuman scored on a layup with 13 minutes 44 seconds left in the first half. The Mystics missed their first nine field goal attempts and shot a dismal 32.4 percent in the first period. But Washington got within seven after a 9-0 run capped by a Murriel Page jumper with 10:30 left.
The Lynx committed six turnovers in the first eight minutes of the second half, and the Mystics narrowed Minnesota's lead to two on a 15-footer from Coco Miller with 12:03 left. But Jackson missed a breakaway layup with just under 8:30 left that would have cut the lead to three. Lynx guard Amber Jacobs grabbed Jackson twice on the play, including a tug on the guard's shirt while she was going up for the shot. But no foul was called, and Minnesota's Tasha Butts ended the sequence with a three-pointer that stretched the lead to eight.
"I hate to talk about the referees, but each one of them said they missed it. There's three people out on the floor. How can you miss that?" Adams said. "That's a crucial part of the game. I think they should be fined instead of me."
Taurasi Leads Phoenix
Diana Taurasi became the first WNBA rookie to start her career with three 20-point games, helping the host Phoenix Mercury to an 84-76 upset of the Seattle Storm.
Taurasi, the league's leading scorer with a 23.3-point average, finished with 22.
Anna DeForge was strong at the end of the game, scoring seven of her 24 points in the final 1 minute 13 seconds. Penny Taylor had 13 points and eight rebounds and the Mercury (2-1) won consecutive games for the first time since Aug. 7-11, 2002.
Sue Bird led Seattle with 22 points, and reigning league MVP Lauren Jackson had 20 and 11 rebounds, scoring in double figures for the 56th straight game. Betty Lennox added 13 points and Sheri Sam 10 for the Storm, which wasn't able to improve on its franchise-first 2-0 start.
Bird and Taurasi, who helped the University of Connecticut win the 2002 NCAA championship and will be reunited as teammates this summer on the U.S. Olympic team, played each other to a virtual standstill.
* STING 63, FEVER 41: Tammy Sutton-Brown had 16 points and seven rebounds as Charlotte, at home, held Indiana to a franchise low in points.
The Fever also lost its top scorer, Tamika Catchings, to a concussion. Catchings had 15 points and eight rebounds for the Fever (1-2), but was injured with 2 minutes 10 seconds left when she was hit in the face by Allison Feaster's forearm in a rebounding scrum.
"We'll find out more tomorrow, but she took a pretty good knock in the face," Indiana Coach Brian Winters said.
* SILVER STARS 72, MONARCHS 63: Shannon Johnson scored 15 points and had a dozen assists for host San Antonio.