|Mystics, Fever play for second time in five days|
Washington and Indiana will square off for the second time in five days, this time on Thursday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis as the Fever look to channel their best performance of the season in search of their first win.
Washington beat Indiana 82-75 on Sunday in the nation's capital in what was the Mystics' season opener and the second game of the year for Indiana. The Fever got to within five points late in that setback in Washington but couldn't close the deal, and have since lost again -- 87-70 at home against Los Angeles -- to fall to 0-3 on the season.
Rookie Kelsey Mitchell scored a career-high 20 points and Tiffany Mitchell added 14 for Indiana in the loss on Tuesday. Natalie Achonwa, who set career highs of 21 points and 12 rebounds against Washington on Sunday, had just six points and eight rebounds in 17 minutes.
After the game, Indiana coach Pokey Chatman said the rookie guard can be a force in the league.
"Players in this league have a healthy respect for rookies that put up a lot of points," Chatman told the Indianapolis Star. "So, they're on her pretty good. We wanted to free her up and give her more space."
Indiana pulled to within 67-57 early in the fourth quarter but the Sparks answered with a 9-2 run and led by double figures the rest of the way.
The Fever were down by 17 points after the end of the first quarter but played Los Angeles even the rest of the game.
"We just have to start games better," Indiana forward Candice Dupree said. "That's an issue we've been battling since last year, and I don't know if that means making a change in the starting lineup, but we've got to have better effort and more energy. We've just got to compete."
Thursday game will be the fourth in six days for the Fever, who have been forced to indoctrinate their rookies in a compacted time frame.
Washington, meanwhile, hits the road for the first time this season after beating Las Vegas 75-70 on Tuesday in a game the Mystics trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half. Elena Delle Donne scored 23 points, 17 of them in the first half, and took 11 rebounds to lead Washington to the win, which pushed it to 2-0 on the year.
"They carried me against Indiana, so it was the least I could do to step up and hit a couple shots for them," Delle Donne said. "It was one of those games where the ball wasn't falling in the right direction, and we let that affect our defense a little bit. Luckily, our bench came out and played amazing."
The Mystics also got a career high-tying 17 points from Tianna Hawkins and 15 from rookie Ariel Atkins in just her second WNBA game during the win.
"I don't even know where to start, except the team I kind of expected, showed up in the second half a little bit," Mystics coach Mike Thibault said. "We've got a lot of work to do finding combinations that work. To our players' credit, as frustrated as they were at halftime, they kept playing. All we kept talking about every timeout is just keep getting some stops, and we will figure out a way to get our offense flowing a little bit."
Washington has won the past five games against the Fever, dating to Sept. 11, 2016. Indiana owns a 48-24 edge in the overall series between the two teams.