Mystics-Dream preview

Mystics-Dream preview

The matchup: Back home after opening the second half of the season with three out of four road games, the Mystics host Atlanta on Friday (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet). Washington (5-17) dropped all three of those away contests, but in between downed Chicago in overtime at the Verizon Center. The Mystics remain last in the Eastern Conference, 3.5 games behind Chicago and New York for the final playoff spot. The Dream (11-11), third in the East, are led by gold medalist Angel McCoughtry and ex-Mystic Lindsey Harding. Playing head-to-head for the first time this season, Washington and Atlanta will meet four times over the final month of the regular season. Last season the Dream took three of five games in the series.Last time out: The Mystics became the latest victim of the sizzling San Antonio Silver Stars, falling 75-72 on Wednesday. Playing their fourth game in six days, the Mystics shot 3 of 13 in the first quarter and were outscored 26-12 in the third. Trailing by 15 points entering the final 10 minutes, Crystal Langhorne and Monique Currie sparked a rally as Washington pulled within six midway through the fourth quarter. Jasmine Thomass 3-pointer with 3.3 seconds cut the lead to three, but San Antonio dribbled out the clock for its 12th straight win."(We) came out in the first five minutes of the second half and just lost our composure and our focus, Mystics coach and general manager Trudi Lacey said. They scored 26 points in that quarter. We fought our way back, missed some shots down the stretch, and didnt close out the game.Langhorne and Thomas paced the Mystics with 17 points while Currie added. The trio combined made 17 of 31 field goal attempts (54.8 percent) from the field while their teammates finished 10 of 31 (32.2 percent).Jumping for Jasmine: Beyond any thoughts of a playoff push, the Mystics second half of the season goal centers on generating consistent and improved production out of their younger players. Thomas, a first-round pick last season, struggled early in the season with her offense and running the Mystics attack. If the last two games are any indication, the Northern Virginia native might be turning the corner.In the win over Chicago, Thomas doled out a career-high eight assists and sank the go-ahead 3-pointer with 16 remaining in overtime. Her 17 points and three 3-pointers against San Antonio matched her season-high.The Dream: McCoughtry, the WNBAs leading scorer at 22.7 points per game, didn't play in Wednesdays 82-71 won over Chicago for personal reasons, the Associated Press reported. The offensively gifted forwards status for Fridays game is uncertain, Dream coach and general manager Marynell Meadors said. Harding, who directed the Mystics attack during the 2009 and 2010 playoff campaigns, is averaging 11.5 points and 3.8 assists.

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How trade deadline decisions hint at Wizards' future Otto Porter plans

How trade deadline decisions hint at Wizards' future Otto Porter plans

The calls about Otto Porter came early and often during the trade deadline that passed earlier today, but they went unanswered by Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld. He plans on keeping the soon-to-be restricted free agent now that he has blossomed into an elite shooter who is a perfect fit for one the NBA’s best starting fives.

“We love Otto,” Grunfeld told CSNmidatlantic.com, before the Wizards departed for Fridays' game at the Philadelphia 76ers. “We love the way that he’s developed and how he’s come along. I think Otto fits in very well with what we’re trying to do. I said he’s part of our core and we want to keep him here.”

Porter didn’t enter his fourth NBA season as this hot of a commodity. But in his first season under coach Scott Brooks he has elevated every aspect of his game, averaging career-highs of 14.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 53.4% overall shooting and an NBA-high 46.5% three-point shooting.

With John Wall and Bradley Beal having All-Star-caliber seasons, and Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat playing their best basketball since coming to D.C., Porter has stepped right in. He’s no longer the shy, shoulder-shrugging Mr. Nice Guy that he was when the Wizards drafted him No. 3 overall in 2013.

MORE WIZARDS: POWER RANKINGS -- POST DEADLINE OUTLOOK

Though he’s still a nice guy, he has more edge to his game and certainly a confidence that was absent in most of his first two seasons. Last season, Porter’s first as the starting small forward, he came on strong late after lingering in the low 30s on his shot from three.

Now it’s a well-oiled machine. When defense overcommit to Wall and Beal, Porter makes them pay. As a result of his explosion, so will the Wizards to keep him. Porter's emergence created an unexpected expense.

The move made by the Wizards to trade Andrew Nicholson’s $26 million salary, in addition to sacrificing a lottery-protected first-round pick to the Brooklyn Nets for Bojan Bogdanovic, was to create more cap room. They anticipate needing it to retain Porter, who earns $5.9 million this season.

The Wizards must make him a qualifying offer of 125% of that salary to retain the first right of refusal by making Porter restricted. Not making a qualifying offer would allow him to become unrestricted.

“He and John, Bradley, Keef and Marcin and all the rest of our players complement each other very well,” Grunfeld said. “We hope to have him here for a long time.”

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Bogdanovic was 'cheering' for trade to go through to join Wizards

Bogdanovic was 'cheering' for trade to go through to join Wizards

Bojan Bogdanovic couldn't control the joy he felt inside the moment he got word that the Wizards were trying to acquire him in a deal to save him from the nine-win Brooklyn Nets.

"It's a big jump for me. I hope I'm going to adjust well and I'm going to start to play well as soon as possible," said Bogdanovic, a 6-8 forward who is in the final year of his three-year deal and will become a restricted free agent this summer.

"I thought I was going to be traded. When I saw that Washington was interested in me I was cheering over there to be traded here because I know how they play right now. They need someone to score off the bench."

Bogadanovic averaged a career-high 14.2 points and shot 35.7% from three-point range with Brooklyn, starting 54 games. Otto Porter starts at his position in Washington.

"It's not going to be a big adjustment for me because also in Europe I started many times from the bench even when I was one of the best players on the team," Bogdanovich said before coming to the NBA in 2014. "Sometimes I like more to start from the bench so I can be more aggressive."

[RELATED: Why the Wizards traded for Bogdanovic]

The lineups that coach Scott Brooks can roll out now are much more diverse. If he wants to go to a super-small lineup, he can put John Wall, Bradley Beal, Bogdanovic, Porter and Markieff Morris on the floor. Or he can substitute Kelly Oubre in for his defense and not lose much versatility. Or Jason Smith can take Morris' spot. 

"What we were looking for is some more scoring, a little pop off the bench, and some more three-point shooting and we wanted to add some versatility," president Ernie Grunfeld told CSNmidatlantic.com after the deadline passed. "With Bojan, we get everything."

Wall liked the move for those reasons. 

"It was a cool trade, a good trade," Wall said. "He's not a guy that just needs the ball in hands."

So does Brooks.

"It's a great addition. He's not just a shooter. He can score the ball," Brooks said. "He has great size. He gets to the free-throw line at a decent clip. He makes them."

[RELATED: Wall sees Cousins through emotional trade]