Mystics-Dream preview

Mystics-Dream preview

The matchup: Its not a dream, Washington does indeed face Atlanta for the second time in a week yet so much will look different when the two sides square off on Thursday night.
This week the Dream (12-13), currently third in the Eastern Conference fired longtime coach and general manager Marynell Meadors and suspended star Angel McCoughtry indefinitely for violating a team rule.Atlanta had no problem dispatching Washington 81-69 at the Verizon Center without the WNBAs leading scorer. The Mystics (5-19) fell behind by double digits in the first quarter thanks to nine turnovers and trailed by 28 points in the third before a Matee Ajavon rally pulled them closer late to make the final score respectable, but not indicative of the meeting. If you cant take care of the ball you cant make shots, said Monique Currie about Washingtons miscuing start. The early turnovers led to frequent layups and Atlanta finished with 40 points in the paint. We cant get shots, were not getting back on defense continued Currie, who had 14 points. They had a layup clinicAjavon scored 16 of her 20 points off the bench in the loss, Washingtons fifth in six games since returning from the Olympic break.Washington, four games back of New York and Chicago for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, heads to Atlanta having lost 11 of 12 road games this season.After winning the first meeting this season against Washington, Atlanta has dropped two straight, including a stunning home loss to Tulsa, owners of the worst record in the Western Conference.Last time out: The Mystics avoided a slow start at Indiana, but a 10-2 third quarter proved decisive as the Fever pulled away for an 83-68 win. Reserves Noelle Quinn and Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton led in scoring with 13 and 10 points respectively, but that was not nearly enough to overcome a 10 of 17 3-point shooting barrage by the Fever.We started off well, Quinn said. Gave up too many three point shots. Generally speaking we were the aggressor. But in the third quarter we fell on our Achilles heel and let too many three point baskets be made today.Snowed under: Before and immediately after the Olympic break, center Michelle Snow provided a consistent rebounding presence for the Mystics, averaging a team-high 6.8 rebounds per game. Over the last four games, not so much with only 10 boards overall and just four off the offensive glass.The Dream: Hard to know which is more stunning; McCoughtrys disruptive absence over the last four games or the back-to-back Eastern Conference champions firing their coach. Atlanta replaced Meadors with assistant coach Fred Williams. Former Mystics point guard Lindsey Hardings presence at the point guard remains and Armintie Price scored 19 points in the previous win over Washington.

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Fun and games between John Wall and Russell Westbrook during All-Star shove

Fun and games between John Wall and Russell Westbrook during All-Star shove

NEW ORLEANS -- Coming off the bench, Russell Westbrook clearly wanted to get himself another MVP tropy at the NBA All-Star Game -- 26 shots in 20 minutes for 41 points -- but him playing with former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate and his roughouse play with John Wall drew the most attention Sunday.

In the second quarter, Westbrook made a two-hand shove of Wall after a break in the action. Intially, he had a scowl. Then it turned into a bit of a smirk. 

Wall, who was attempting to play defense, didn't take it too seriously. The final score was 192-182 as the West beat the East. 

"There wasn't no trash-talking," Wall said. "I didn't say (anything). If it was real games, I'll get down. That was just fun and games."

Jae Crowder of the Boston Celtics found that out when the poked Wall in the face with his finger during a game in January that led to both players being fined. Wall retaliated there with a quick slap. 

The highlight of the night, however, came when Kevin Durant, who left Westbrook and the Thunder for the Golden State Warriors, threw his former point guard a lob for a dunk. 

When there was a timeout, the DeMarcus Cousins, Draymond Green and Steph Curry led the cheer when the pair went to the bench. 

MORE WIZARDS: Wall expects deadline move to bolster bench

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Wall expects Wizards to make move before trade deadline to boost bench

Wall expects Wizards to make move before trade deadline to boost bench

NEW ORLEANS -- Just as soon as DeMarcus Cousins entered the mixed zone area after Sunday's 66th All-Star Game, he was gone. It wasn't before he said his goodbyes to John Wall.

"Aight, boy, love you," Wall said to his close friend and teammate for one year at Kentucky. 

"Love you too, boy," said Cousins, who had three points in less than three minutes and gladly sat.

Who knows where Cousins will be come Thursday afternoon after the NBA trade deadline passes. The Wizards (34-21) find themselves in third place in the East with a chance to make a serious push for the conference finals. 

"I think so," Wall said when asked if he expected president Ernie Grunfeld to make a move as he has done the last several years, and the most recent being for Markieff Morris. "We're looking at some options to help our bench out. Other than that I don't know. I haven't talked to him about it."

MORE WIZARDS: Paul George wants what the Wizards have

Wall played 21 minutes and shot 6-for-12 in a 192-182 loss to the West All-Stars. He also had six rebounds, four assists and four steals. 

He'll take a short vacation before returning to D.C. for practice Wednesday and Thursday. The Wizards' next game, the day after the deadline, is Friday at the Philadelphia 76ers. 

They lost 109-102 at the Sixers earlier this season when they began 2-8.  The Wizards have been 28-10 since Dec. 1.

"If guys aren't in tune," Wall said, "we'll make sure we get them in tune."

VIDEO: Wall pushed by Westbrook in All-Star game