Mike Thibault laughed before beginning his postgame news conference Saturday, a despondent chuckle that seemed to sum up the Washington Mystics’ 2020 season.

Thibault just wants his team to get better — and get healthy — at this point. Playoff aspirations have been placed on the back burner, and defending the 2019 WNBA championship isn’t even mentioned. Those are the simple goals for a team in the midst of its worst spiral since the 2016 season.

The Mystics dropped their seventh straight game Saturday in Bradenton, Fla., an 88-73 blowout loss to the Las Vegas Aces that was decided in the first quarter. Washington, which spiraled after a 3-0 start to the season, has lost its past three games by an average of 17.3 points.

“We obviously have some people really struggling,” Thibault said. “… We had some people have some really tough shooting days.

“Overall we got some decent looks. We’re not making shots. … At the end of the day, the game was invented to put the ball in the basket, and we’re not doing that real well right now.”

The Mystics (3-7) aren’t doing much real well right now, and the red-hot Aces (8-2) showed no mercy in their seventh consecutive victory. Las Vegas used a 16-3 run in the first quarter to take a 24-13 lead and never trailed again.

Washington’s offense struggled throughout, but a 5-for-16 (31.3 percent) shooting performance in the first quarter put the Mystics in a hole they never recovered from. Washington’s ball movement improved, but Thibault lamented that his team passed up on several open shots. The Mystics were also buried in the first half by turnovers. Washington had 11 first-half turnovers that led to 12 Aces points and allowed Las Vegas to repeatedly get out in transition. The Aces only had two turnovers in the first 20 minutes.

Jackie Young scored a team-high 16 points for the Aces while Dearica Hamby and Sugar Rodgers scored 14 and 12 off the bench. MVP candidate A’ja Wilson finished with 12 points and Angel McCoughtry added 11.

“Today was a game where we took care of business,” Aces Coach Bill Laimbeer said. “They’re a depleted team. They’re a little down right now. We needed one where we didn’t have to completely put all our mental and physical energy out there. We got through it. … We played the right team at the right time for us to get through this one. If we played somebody else, we could’ve gotten beat.”

The two leading scorers for the Mystics this season, Myisha Hines-Allen and Emma Meesseman, combined for 11 points on 4-for-18 shooting. Washington’s starters were a combined 8 for 32 in the first half. Ariel Atkins got going late and finished with a game-high 17 points. Tianna Hawkins scored 12, and Leilani Mitchell chipped in 11. In her best game as member of the Mystics, Alaina Coates scored all of her eight points in the fourth quarter and grabbed six rebounds.

Washington still needs Mitchell to be more aggressive offensively, and Hines-Allen has gone a bit quiet after being named the season’s first Eastern Conference player of the week. Meesseman’s two points were a season low.

“Losing sucks,” Atkins said. “It sucks. I mean, we’ve dropped seven in a row, so that’s tough.”

Notes: The shorthanded Mystics only had eight healthy players available. Aerial Powers missed her fourth straight game with a hamstring injury. Kiara Leslie missed her second straight game with a pair of ankle sprains and Shey Peddy missed her first game with a right hip pointer.

The team will have an off day Sunday and will have three days between games for the first time in two weeks and just the second time this season.

“These couple days off, I hope will help us,” Thibault said. “We have some very, very, very tired people.”

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