The Washington Mystics will be without Chamique Holdsclaw, their leading scorer and rebounder, for at least two more games as the forward recovers from an undisclosed medical issue, according to a statement on the team's Web site last night.
Holdsclaw missed a game and two practices earlier this week, played in Wednesday night's loss to the Detroit Shock and missed practice yesterday.
"I came back on Wednesday night and didn't feel 100 percent," Holdsclaw said in the statement. "I recognize now that I need to focus on my medical issues and will miss the next two games."
The Mystics are 10-14 and have lost five of their past six games entering tonight's game against the Connecticut Sun (13-12) at MCI Center. The WNBA takes a month off after Aug. 1 to allow its players to compete in the Olympics. Only eight games will remain for the team to make any sort of a playoff push when the season starts back up again in September, and the Mystics are in last place in the tightly contested Eastern Conference.
The team is listing her as day-to-day.
"Chamique has always shown courage as a player and as an individual. Her strength and character will see her through this difficult time. Our main concern is her health and well being and she has all of our support," team own Abe Pollin said in the statement.
At yesterday's practice, the Mystics seemed clueless as to Holdsclaw's status.
"She's obviously not here," Coach Michael Adams said. "She's taking care of the issue, and we just have to deal with that."
Holdsclaw returned to the Mystics on Wednesday after a four-day absence. She looked healthy and energized, despite making 3 of 13 shots for just 12 points in a 73-65 loss to Detroit.
After the game, Holdsclaw refused to speak with the media. The rest of the Mystics organization continued to go to great lengths to guard her privacy.
Judy Holland Burton, the team's head of basketball operations, has not returned calls the past three days. Neither has Pat Summitt, the Mystics' player personnel consultant and Holdsclaw's college coach at the University of Tennessee.
Forward Murriel Page continued to explain Holdsclaw's absence as a "personal issue. She's doing what's best for her right now."
Adams would appear to know even less. He never so much as talked to Holdsclaw during the first four days of her absence, and he didn't communicate with his star yesterday, either. "She's taking care of things she's taking care of," Adams said. "I've said all along that if she's not here, we can win without her."
"It's adversity," guard Alana Beard said. "You become tighter as a team."
The Mystics have yet to prove such cohesiveness. Their recent slump has put them four games under .500 for the first time this season. In Wednesday's loss, Washington turned over the ball 19 times and shot 37 percent.
"We've been faced with some obstacles," Page said, "but we still have a chance to step up."
* SPARKS 85, MONARCHS 80: Lisa Leslie scored 17 points to become the first 4,000-point scorer in WNBA history, and Mwadi Mabika scored all seven of her team's points in the second overtime to give Los Angeles a win on the road.
Leslie also grabbed 12 rebounds for the Sparks (18-7), who have won four straight, and 11 of 12.
Mabika led the Sparks with 24 points. She opened the second overtime with a three-pointer and added a shot from close range and two free throws in the closing seconds, personally outscoring the Monarchs 7-2.
In the first overtime, Sacramento forward DeMya Walker tied the score at 78 on a drive with 44 seconds left. She then had a chance to win it in the final seconds, but missed an off-balance shot.
With the Monarchs trailing 68-63 with 29 seconds left in regulation, Kara Lawson made two three-pointers to send the game to overtime. After a free throw from Mabika made it 69-66, Lawson's second three-pointer tied it with 4.2 seconds left.
Lawson led five Monarchs in double figures with 20 points, including six three-pointers. Walker added 16 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. Yolanda Griffith had 13 points and a season-high 16 rebounds; Ruthie Bolton had 13 points and Tangela Smith scored 12.
Sacramento dropped to 11-13.