Mystics seek freedom from losing ways against Liberty

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Mystics seek freedom from losing ways against Liberty

After two games away from the Verizon Center, the reeling WashingtonMystics return home for a Friday night contestagainst the New York Liberty.Here is what you to know about the Eastern Conference tiltand what the Mystics are up against as they try to snap a three-game losing streak.The matchup: The Mystics (1-4) host the Liberty (2-5), winners of two straight, but losers of fiveconsecutive games in Washington. New York opened with a franchise-record five-game losing streak and had some WNBA observers labeling them the league's worst team before finding a winning formula. However, both of those victories came at home. Beyond simply being winless on the road, the Liberty lost all three games by an average of 21.3 points. New York's issues have been on the defensive end as opponents score 83 points per game, 10 more than the Washington is allowing. If there is such a thing as a must win game this early in the season, this might be it for the Mystics. After the Liberty, they face the 4-1 Indiana Fever before heading out west for a brutalthree-game road swing.Last time out: On the positive side, Washington matched a franchise record for points in a single quarter, scoring 36 in the fourth against with Connecticut. But...the Mystics allowed the Sun to pile up 35 points over those final 10 minutes in a 94-86 loss. The Mystics cut down on their turnovers and used the extra possessions to feed All-Star forward Crystal Langhorne, who finished with a season-high 25 points. Once again, the Sun did the visitors one better as center Tina Charles dropped in 30 points.Jasmine Thomas:Mystics coach has been searching for an answer at point guard throughout the season - well, really, since Lindsay Harding pushed for a trade after the 2010 campaign. Perhaps a new plan of attack can be centered around the hot shooting Thomas, It's at least worth consideration afterlast year's first round pick-in 16 minutes - tallied 17 points, two assists and three steals. Over the last two games, Thomas is shooting a stellar 75 percent (8 of 12) from the field.Washington's fourth leading scorer (7.4) on the season despite playing less than 14 minutes per game, the former Oakton High School star is knocking down a team-high 54.5 percent (6 of 11) from beyond the arc. Lacey needs a distributor more than a scorer at the point and Thomas has that in her game; she finished with over 400 assists at Duke. Right now, any consistent production will do. Milestone: Langhorne grabbed five rebounds against the Sun, including number 1,000 of her five-year career. Capping Pondexter: It may not be as simple as saying "stop Cappie Pondexter, stop the Liberty" - but it's a good start. After failing to score 20 points during any of New York's losses, the assertive guard topped that mark in the two victories, averaging 25.5 points. Pondexter, who finished sixth in scoring (17.4) last season, will see plenty of her former Rutgers teammate Matee Ajavon on the defensive end.

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5-on-5 drills stand between John Wall and return to Wizards

5-on-5 drills stand between John Wall and return to Wizards

RICHMOND, Va. -- The barometer on whether or not John Wall will be able to play seems contingent on him going through 5-on-5 drills which didn't happen at training camp. The Wizards are off Sunday and have one more practice before Tuesday's preseason opener vs. the Miami Heat (CSN, 7 p.m. ET).

"I'm just sitting back and waiting. I didn't get to play 5-on-5 here," Wall said. "It wasn't a big deal because I still had the opportunity to get great workouts. Just not overwork my body because this is the first time I did two-a-days and all this. 

"Monday, I'll hopefully go through practice agan and see what happens if I can play Tuesday. If not, I'm in no rush. I'm just preparing myself to be ready on the 27th if I can. If I can get an opportunity to play 5-on-5 in pracitce and scrimamge against the guys that would be great. It's all in the doctor's and trainer's hands."

The Wizards open the regular season Oct. 27 at the Atlanta Hawks. It would be almost six months from Wall getting procedures done on both knees to clean up loose particles and bone spurs. Coach Scott Brooks estimated that he has done 70-75 percent of practices all week at VCU. 

"I dont think I need a lot of time," Wall said on getting ready for game action. "Just being able to do 3-on-2 and doing those type of things, being able to do drills, playing through contact and all that I'm used to it. It's just going to be different playing against NBA caliber guys."

RELATED: Best friends rumble for roster spot at Wizards' camp

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Braden Holtby wasting no time, will start Saturday against the New York Islanders

Braden Holtby wasting no time, will start Saturday against the New York Islanders

Team Canada just wrapped up a World Cup Tournament that included three exhibition games, three round-robin games, a semi-final and a two-game final. In those eight games, Braden Holtby saw only 29:40 of ice time, about one half of an exhibition game against Team USA.

Back with the Caps, Holtby will now look to make up for lost time as he will start in Saturday's preseason game against the New York Islanders.

Saturday's morning skate was the first time Holtby was back on the ice for the Caps, but with the season opener now only 12 days away, Holtby wants to start getting back into game shape.

Holtby acknowledged after Saturday's skate that he was not in game shape and had expressed a desire to the coaches to play in Saturday's game to try to get as much game action as possible.

"There's still enough time," Holtby said. "I've still been on the ice and doing some drills so it's not starting at square one but the game action is key. You can practice all you want, but once you get into a game it's completely different just getting the stamina back up, the mental stamina.

"Still got enough games to make sure we're ready."

RELATED: Holtby returns looking to 'use all the time I can'

Joining Holtby in his preseason debut will be head coach Barry Trotz who will be behind the bench for the first time in the preseason after coaching for Team Canada.

"Talked to Todd [Reirden] yesterday and he wanted me to come on the bench and we'll get everybody in our proper roles and so I will go on the bench tonight," Trotz said. "I wasn't expecting to, but I will. I didn't want to come in and just, 'hey the sheriff's in town.' These guys have done an exceptional job and I just didn't want to do that, but they came to me and said I think we just want to go to our roles here and let's go move forward."

The game will not be in Brooklyn in the Islanders' usual home of the Barclays Center, but rather in Bridgeport, Conn., the home of New York's AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Here are the lines based on Saturday's morning skate:

Marcus Johansson - Lars Eller - Justin Williams

Jakub Vrana - Travis Boyd - Stanislav Galiev

Paul Carey - Chandler Stephenson - Brett Connolly

Liam O'Brien - Brad Malone - Riley Barber

The defensive pairs shuffled throughout the morning, but the six defensemen are Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos, Brooks Orpik, Aaron Ness, Tyler Lewington and Nate Schmidt.

Vitek Vanecek will backup Holtby.

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