At the moment, times are tough for the reigning WNBA champions Washington Mystics.
Mired in their longest losing streak in four seasons, the Mystics look to avoid a sixth consecutive defeat on Thursday night against the Los Angeles Sparks, who are eying a third straight win, at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
After opening the season with three consecutive victories, Washington (3-5) has not won again. Perhaps it isn't too surprising the Mystics have struggled without the presence of key contributors Elena Delle Donne (back), Natasha Cloud (personal) and Tina Charles (medical exemption).
However, during their worst slide since a seven-game skid from 2016, the Mystics have averaged 72.2 points while losing five in a row. It's possible Washington bottomed out Tuesday night when it shot 29.5 percent and committed 16 turnovers during a 68-48 loss to Minnesota. The Mystics scored just four points in the fourth quarter, and never more than 17 in any period on the evening.
According to The Washington Post, Washington's 48 points were the lowest in club history for a regular-season game since 2011.
"We set basketball back about 20 years today," Mystics coach Mike Thibault told the Post. "That was just terrible basketball' We were awful. We just can't score right now."
Myisha Hines-Allen (15.4 points per game) had a team-high 12 points for the Mystics, who were also without injured leading-scorer Aerial Powers (16.3 ppg). It's uncertain when Powers will return to action from a hamstring issue, but they would love to have her back for this contest against the Sparks (5-3).
Riquna Williams (12.0 ppg) and Sydney Wiese each had 17 points and Candace Parker (14.4 ppg, 9.8 rebounds per game) scored 16 as Los Angeles shot nearly 50 percent from the field and went a club-record 11 of 17 from beyond the 3-point arc in Tuesday's 93-78 win over New York. It marked the first time this season that the Sparks have won back-to-back contests inside the "Wubble."
Coach Derek Fisher noted to the Sparks' official website: "When you see our players playing with high levels of energy and effort - they're flying around the court, they're getting up and down the court with a level of pace and pop that should jump off the screen - then I think we'll have a chance to win almost every game."
Los Angeles dropped two of the three meetings with Washington last season.