As the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Case in point, the Mystics contest against the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday.To Washington Coach Trudi Lacey, the matinee affair was probably one of our best games. To the Verizon Center scoreboard, it was the latest loss in a season filled with frustration. The Mystics twice rallied from double-digit deficits before succumbing to the first place Sun, 77-70.With the two sides meeting up again in Connecticut on Wednesday, the Mystics (3-12) have an immediate opportunity to turn their perceived strong effort into a much-needed win. Of course, Washington is 0-3 against the Eastern Conference leaders this season and has lost seven straight in the series.In fairness to Lacey and some of her players who sang a similar optimistic tune in the postgame locker room, there were signs of improvement. Despite facing a Sun (13-4) frontline that counts two Olympians Tina Charles and Asjha Jones among its starters, the Mystics dominated the rebounding battle on both ends.Washington finished with a 38-23 edge, 15-3 off the offensive glass. In the first half, second-chance points accounted for half the teams 30 points and fueled an initial comeback which included taking a 39-38 lead in the third quarter. Crystal Langhorne paced five double figure scorers with 15 points while Michelle Snow had 10 points and 11 rebounds, six offensive. The Mystics doled out 17 assists on 28 made baskets. They held Connecticut to eight points in the second quarter.That was probably one of our best games. We had fifteen offensive rebounds, and we took care of the ball and distributed the ball, Lacey said.And yet, victory eluded them and annoyance showed.It gets frustrating because these teams are easily beatable. Its within us to overcome an obstacle thats making us not win these games. We just have to do it, said Matee Ajavon.The Mystics starting off-guard scored 13 points, but played only 19 minutes as Lacey turned elsewhere when a defensive presence was required.Northern Virginia native Kara Lawson scored 17 points and headlined a perimeter shooting effort that saw the Sun knock down 7 of 13 from beyond the arc. Two of those 3-pointers came from Tan White during a 15-2 run bridging the third and fourth quarter that turned a back-and-forth affair into a 63-52 Connecticut lead.We had a great stretch there in the third quarter that spread it out, beginning the fourth, said Lawson who made three 3s in the Suns third straight win. Tan hit some shots for us. When things arent going right for us offensively, we were able to string together some buckets and get some stops. It was a good win for us.Once again, the Mystics rallied, using a 12-4 run capped by Monique Curries bank shot to pull closer at 67-64 with 2:59 to go. However, White converted a conventional three-point play and the Sun shot 8 for 9 on free throws in the final 2:01 to seal the win. I thought down the stretch when we needed to get stops we didnt, Lacey said. We ended up putting them on the free throw line. Really, that was the difference in the game. They shot well from three, which hurt us.Following Wednesdays game, the Mystics close the first half of the season in New York on Friday before the league takes a month-long Olympic break. Washington hosts Connecticut a third time on September 4.The Sun shot well from everywhere early, making 11 straight attempts in the first quarter, four from Charles (16 points). Considering the Mystics hung tough despite that start and had a punchers chance late against a star-studded team, maybe talk of it being one of our best games is indeed fair. Of course, the scoreboard never lies.
With their regular season opener set for Thursday (6:30 p.m. on CSN), Wizards head coach Scott Brooks was asked after practice this week what has impressed him the most about his new team now that their seven-game exhibition schedule is over. Brooks was quick to point out what has been an established strength for the Wizards in recent years.
"If I had to pick, our offense and our passing has been really, really good," Brooks said. "We're a very good passing team. I thought throughout this exhibition season that has been displayed."
The Wizards have ranked no lower than seventh in assists per game among NBA teams in the last three seasons. It certainly doesn't hurt to have John Wall at the helm of their offense. Wall, 26, has averaged at least 10 assists per game in the past two years. He ranked third in basketball last season with 10.2 per contest.
Wall, in fact, is seventh all-time in career assists per game (9.0) among players with at least 400 NBA games logged. Four of the six ahead of him on the list - Magic Johnson, John Stockton, Oscar Robertson and Isiah Thomas - are Hall of Famers. The other two - Kevin Johnson and Chris Paul - are also good names to be associated with.
Paul, for one, will likely join the others in the Hall someday. He's the only NBA player with more assists than Wall since the latter entered the league in 2010.
Brooks spoke glowingly about Wall's abilities and his rare his combination of speed and court vision.
"It's uncanny, his speed with the basketball and that he's able to make good decisions at that speed," Brooks said. "He sees it slow motion as he's going fast and that's very rare."
Wall isn't the only one passing the rock, of course. Brooks hopes shooting guard Bradley Beal can get more involved in the cause. Beal has a 3.0 assists-per-game average in his career, but his new coach thinks Beal can average four or five.
That may come naturally, given Beal's thoughts on the subject. He believes the Wizards' offense reached a new level this preseason.
"That's probably the best we've passed since I've been here," Beal said. "That's just everybody having fun and not caring about who scores, just getting the best shot available. When we play like that, it's fun for everybody. It's fun for coaches, it's fun for the players, fun for guys coming in the game with momentum and energy."
The Wizards as a team notched 33 assists in their preseason finale against the Raptors in Friday night. Beal alone had nine of them and no turnovers, to boot.
That's exactly what Brooks likes to see and he hopes it carries into the regular season.
"We have to continue to trust the pass," he said. "I think our passing has been impressive. We need to continue that."
It's almost Halloween and the penguins are getting into the spirit. No, not the Pittsburgh Penguins, but actual penguins from Pittsburgh and they're taking shots at the Washington Capitals.
The Pittsburgh Zoo decorated its penguin exhibit for Halloween complete with tombstones. Go ahead and take a look at who is on those tombstones.
The Penguins defeated the San Jose Sharks for the Stanley Cup last season and they just plain don't like the Caps and Flyers.