After a month-long hiatus for the summer Olympics, the Washington Mystics and the rest of the WNBA returns to action this week with the locals playing at Indiana on Thursday. Depending on one's point of view, the break for the Mystics (4-14) was either: Much needed so the players and coaches could analyze and ponder how best to fix the woes of the first half, one that included three losing streaks of at least four games. Or...Poorly timed seeing as the Mystics closed the first half with a rousing 70-53 win at New York, their largest margin of victory on the season.Sure, you can point to the latter position with some legitimacy, but the overall ills during those initial 18 games cannot be denied. Slow starts were a repeat offender; Washington did not own a lead at the end of the first quarter until the 13th game of the season. Spotty point guard play certainly did not help generate consistent early offense.The one constant on offense and on the boardsremains forward Crystal Langhorne, who topped the team in points (16.6) and matched Michelle Snow with a team-high 6.7 rebounds. The former University of Maryland star combined with DC native Monique Currie for 40 points in the victory over New York and tallied 22 points and 13 rebounds in the Mystics stunning 67-66 win over the Fever (10-7) on June 15.Overall the Mystics offense has been stagnant and simply lacking, averaging a league-low 69 points per game. Currie (10.6) is the only other playing averaging double figures, Matee Ajavon (9.2) is averaging nearly five points a game fewer than she did last season, sinking only 32 percent of her shots. The real issue for coach Trudi Lacey's squad offensively comes with those directing traffic. Free agent signee Dominque Canty went from starting point guardto waived after only five games. Second-year guard and former first-round pick Jasmine Thomas is still transitioning into a floor leader role and the growing pains are evident at times.In-season pick-up Shannon Bobbitt became a 5-foot-3 sparkplug for a while, but she failed to tally a single point in four of her last five games. Natasha Lacy also received time, but nothing stuck. Even if the losses continue to mount, letting Thomas and 2012 first-rounder Natalie Novosel take control of the backcourt at some point could be Lacey's best path.Indiana, led by Olympic Gold medalist and small forward Tamika Catchings, ended the first half in second place behindEastern Conference leading Connecticut. Catchings paces the Fever in points (18.2), rebounds (7.4) and steals (2.0), though the do-everything star missed 10 of 14 shots in the June loss to the Mystics. The two sides square off three times over the final five-plus weeks of the regular season including twice in Indiana where the Fever are 6-3.Meanwhile the Mystics lost seven of eight road games with the win at New York representing the only triumph away from the Verizon Center. Seeing as they open the second half playing six of eight on the road, the Mystics better hope they remembered that winning formula.
By TATE STEINLAGE, Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) -- Gyasi Zardes had his first two-goal international game, 17-year-old Christian Pulisic became the youngest American scorer in the modern era and the United States routed Bolivia 4-0 in an exhibition Saturday night to sweep its three warmup matches for next month's Copa America.
Zardes scored in the 26th and 52nd minutes around defender John Brooks' goal in the 37th. Pulisic, the youngest foreigner to score in the Bundesliga, got the final goal in the 69th minute. At 17 years, 253 days, he bettered the mark set by Juan Agudelo (17-359) against South Africa in 2010.
The 29th-ranked Americans had their largest victory margin against a South American opponent, beat opponents from that continent in consecutive matches for the first time and swept their three warmup matches by a combined 8-1 after defeating Puerto Rico and Ecuador.
At the Copa America, the U.S. plays fourth-ranked Colombia on Friday in the opener at Santa Clara, California, then faces Costa Rica four days later at Chicago and closes the first round versus Paraguay on June 11 at Philadelphia.
Alejandro Bedoya assisted on the first two goals against 79th-ranked Bolivia.
The U.S. went ahead after Geoff Cameron played a 20-yard pass to Clint Dempsey, who flicked the ball to Bedoya on the right flank. He in turn lofted a one-touch pass over a shoulder of Zardes, who streaked past defender Nelson Cabrera and let the ball take a bounce. Zardes one-timed a right-footed shot from 19 yards over onrushing goalkeeper Guillermo Viscarra, who was making his international debut.
Brooks doubled the lead after U.S. captain Michael Bradley rolled a through pass on a free kick from 35 yards out to Bedoya, who burst past Carmelo Algaranaz and from the corner of the 6-yard box made a sliding cutback pass in front of the goal. Brooks, 21, redirected the ball in with his left foot from 7 yards for his third international goal. Brooks scored late against Ghana to win the Americans' 2014 World Cup opener and also got a goal in an exhibition win at the Netherlands last year.
Zardes, 25, scored again after playing the ball back to Bradley in midfield. He lofted a pass to Bobby Wood on the left side of the goal, Wood crossed to Zardes, who beat defender Luis Gutierrez and scored again with his left foot, this time from 6 yards. Zardes has five goals in 26 national team appearances.
Pulisic, who made debuts for Borussia Dortmund in January and the U.S. in March, scored after Jermaine Jones forced a turnover. Jones exchanged passes with Darlington Nagbe, who ran past three Bolivians and rolled the ball into Pulisic's path. The teenager slid the ball to Viscarra's left from right of the penalty spot, causing many in the crowd of 8,894 to chant his name.
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann shifted Matt Besler, normally a central defender, to left back in his starting lineup and started Michael Orozco at right back. Fabian Johnson replaced Besler at the start of the second half and DeAndre Yedlin came in for Orozco, joining Brooks and Cameron in central defense, the first time the likely back four for the match against Colombia played together. Cameron had not played since injuring a hamstring in Stoke's season finale on May 15.
Bedoya and Jones flanked Bradley, who dropped back in a defensive midfield role; Zardes and Wood played aside Dempsey; and Brad Guzan started his fourth straight match in goal, making the lineup for the first 18 minutes of the second half the possible starting 11 against Colombia. That array was broken up when Pulisic and Nagbe replaced Zardes and Bedoya.
Postgame analysis of the Nationals' 9-4 loss to the Cardinals on Saturday night at Nats Park.
How it happened: The Cardinals offense didn't waste much time in this one, jumping on Nats starter Gio Gonzalez by building a 4-0 second-inning lead thanks to three straight two-out hits with men on base. Washington briefly got back in the game in the bottom of the frame as Ryan Zimmerman launched a two-run home run to cut the deficit to 4-2.
However, the tough times continued for Gonzalez. He promptly yielded a solo shot to Matt Holliday in the third, and then in the fifth gave up an RBI double to Randal Grichuk to make it 6-2 St. Louis, ending the lefty starter's night earlier than he or the Nats would have liked.
Washington would get two runs back on solo home runs from Bryce Harper and Zimmerman, but the red-hot Cards lineup was simply too much on this night. Matt Adams came through with a pinch-hit two-run double to pad the lead to 8-4 and essentially put things out of reach.
What it means: After starting the season series off with four straight against the Cardinals, the Nats have now dropped back-to-back games to St. Louis. At 29-21, Washington is still in a virtual tie for first place in the NL East with the New York Mets.
Another rough outing for Gio: Well, so much for the idea of Jose Lobaton spurring a rebound start for Gonzalez. Even though he was throwing to his usual catcher this time, Gio struggled for the second straight outing, allowing six earned runs on six hits and four walks over 4 2/3 frames. What doomed him the most Saturday? His inability to finish innings when he was ahead in the count. Though he had multiple opportunities in two-strike, two-out situations to exit a frame unscathed, he instead allowed a series of crippling run-scoring hits. Indeed, five of the six runs Gonzalez yielded against the Cards came with two down, a frustrating stat considering that there were moments where he looked like he was going to settle down.
Daniel Murphy, record breaker: In only his second regular season month with his new team, Daniel Murphy has already etched his name in the Nats record books. His second-inning single was his 41st hit in May, breaking Denard Span's club mark for hits in a month. Murphy's average on the season is now at an eye-popping .390 through nearly two months.
Up next: The Nats will look to salvage a series split Sunday afternoon as they send Stephen Strasburg (8-0, 2.79 ERA) to the mound to oppose the Cardinals' Michael Wacha (2-5, 5.04).
If you are an NBA fan, you know about Craig Sager and his phenomenal outfits. As a sideline reporter for TNT, Sager is known just as much for his attire as he is for his reporting.
For example, here's a look at what he is wearing for Saturday's Game 6 between Oklahoma City and Golden State.
As phenomenal as he may look, he just may have met his match in Oklahoma City from an unexpected source: Kevin Durant's mom.
Sager and KD mom admiring outfits pic.twitter.com/cqQD8RyhwS— Hannibal Buress (@hannibalburess) May 29, 2016
I don't know, I think she's got him beat.
Not to be out done are the players themselves of course. Russell Westbrook always brings his A game when it comes to outfits, and Saturday was no different.
Remember when Charlie Sheen kept talking about tiger blood? I'm pretty sure he was talking about this jacket.
Kevin Durant is taking his fashion style onto the court with messages written on his shoes.
Kevin Durant's sneakers tonight: SMILE on the right, HAVE FUN on the left. pic.twitter.com/jsbiuS1jbz— ESPN (@espn) May 29, 2016
Pretty soon the NBA Playoffs will need its own red carpet show.