Mystics fall to Liberty

884179.png

Mystics fall to Liberty

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Trailing by nine points with about nine minutes remaining, a loss to last place Washington could have dealt a serious blow to the New York Liberty's playoff chances.

However, thanks to Cappie Pondexter, Nicole Powell and some stifling defense, the Liberty remain in control of their future.

Pondexter had 30 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, and 11 rebounds as the Liberty rallied to beat the Mystics 75-68.

"Defense is our key," Liberty coach John Whisenant said. "And Cappie. She's been awesome. She's our MVP and the most important player to her team of anybody in the league."

Powell scored 10 of her 18 points in the fourth quarter as well and Essence Carson added 15 points as New York (14-17) won its third straight.

The Liberty retained a one game lead over Chicago for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Sky beat Phoenix 86-55.

Jasmine Thomas scored 16 points (on 7-of-11 shooting) and Monique Currie had 12 to lead the Washington (5-27), which has lost 11 straight.

"I think we played a tough game. We fought through until the end," Currie said. "They executed better than we did. They made some tough shots, some big shots."

After Washington scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to take a 56-49 lead, Pondexter scored the first six of an 8-0 run by the Liberty. The Mystics pushed the lead to 63-58 with 4:36 left and New York called timeout.

"When it looked like they could take over the game with about four minutes left, we had a time out, talked about it, and regrouped," Pondexter said.

Powell's 3-pointer tied the score at 63 with 2:50 left and her short jumper gave the Liberty a 67-65 lead with 1:34 to play.

"Nicole made some huge shots down the stretch," Pondexter said.

After a miss by Currie, Kara Braxton scored on a layup off a nice pass from Pondexter to make it 69-65 with 48 seconds left.

"I think we stepped up our defensive intensity when it mattered most," Pondexter said.

Matee Ajavon missed a short jumper and Pondexter hit two three throws. Thomas's 3-pointer made it 71-68 with 19 seconds to go, but the Mystics got no closer.

"Coming into the stretch I don't know if it's a loss of focus, or what it is, but we have to figure it out," said Thomas.

The Liberty outrebounded the Mystics 13-4 in the fourth quarter.

"We only gave them one shot so we were blocking out well," Whisenant said. "Nicole Powell got a couple of rebound putbacks that were critical when the basket was shrinking up on us a little bit."

The Mystics' Ashley Robinson finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Washington outscored New York 19-12 in the third quarter and built a five-point lead as the Liberty hit just 5-of-22 field goals.

Washington played without leading scorer Crystal Langhorne (14.7 ppg), who left Friday's loss to Atlanta with a left foot sprain, and Noelle Quinn (6.5 ppg), out with an injured right shoulder.

Quick Links

5 must-see moments from Wizards' win over Atlanta Hawks

5 must-see moments from Wizards' win over Atlanta Hawks

Here are five plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 104-100 win over the Atlanta Hawks at the Verizon Center on Wednesday night that are worth revisiting...

1. The first half of this game was hideous on all accounts. The Wizards scored just 16 points in the first quarter and had 40 at halftime. John Wall went scoreless and the Wizards shot 34 percet as a team.

Basically, there wasn't much to highlight through the first two quarters. But there was this three by Bojan Bogdanovic to beat the shot clock buzzer:

Bogdanovic ended up with just five points in 15 minutes.

2. The second half is where all the fun started and the Wizards had some life breathed into them by their bench. In this sequence Kelly Oubre, Jr. and Brandon Jennings combined to key a 5-point rally and give the Wizards a lead:

Oubre was solid with five points and five rebounds in 18 minutes. Jennings got it done again with six assists.

3. The fourth quarter was all Wall and Bradley Beal, who combined for 18 points in the frame. On this play Wall found Beal for a three and used a nifty dribble fake to set up the assist, one of 10 for him on the night:

Did you notice Oubre on the bench? Take another look:

4. On this play Wall found himself wide open on the fastbreak. He threw it down with emphasis:

Wall had 22 points on the night after putting up a zero in the first.

5. Beal helped put the finishing touches on this win with a huge defensive play. He stole a pass and flushed it on the other end:

Beal led the Wizards with 28 points, including four threes, and added nine rebounds. It was a strong night for Big Panda and afterwards he caught up with CSN's Chris Miller, only to have Jason Smith then mess with him during the interview:

As Beal said afterwards, the Wizards have their swag back.

[RELATED: Wizards' Brooks has little sympathy in NBA rest debate]

Quick Links

Game 73: Capitals vs. Blue Jackets date, time, how to watch, game thread

Game 73: Capitals vs. Blue Jackets date, time, how to watch, game thread

Washington defeated the hottest team in the NHL on Tuesday with a win over the Calgary Flames, but the Capitals face an even bigger matchup on Thursday as they host the Columbus Blue Jackets. Columbus and the Caps are fighting for the top of the division to avoid a tougher first-round matchup in the playoffs. Kevin Shattenkirk will enter Thursday's game looking for his first goal as a Cap after his goal on Tuesday was reviewed and given to Nicklas Backstrom. Alex Ovechkin, meanwhile, will be sporting some special skates in honor of Russian Heritage Night.

What: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

Where: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET. (Capitals GameTime gets things started at 6:30 p.m. ET)

How to Watch: Capitals vs. Blue Jackets will be broadcast on CSN. (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals vs. Blue Jackets game on CSN's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

The Capitals (47-17-8) take on the Blue Jackets (47-19-6) Thursday, March 23 at 7:00 p.m. ET at Verizon Center.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-BLUES JACKETS GAME ON?

The Capitals-Blue Jackets game will be broadcast on CSN. Capitals GameTime gets things started at 6:30 p.m. ET with Capitals Extra recapping the all the action following the game and Caps in 30 at 11 p.m. (CSN channel Finder)

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

The Capitals-Blue Jackets game, as well as the pre and postgame shows, is available to stream live here through CSN's live stream page and is available to authenticated CSN Mid-Atlantic subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

WHAT ARE THE LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Here are the projected lines based on Tuesday's game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Daniel Winnik - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Defense

Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Kevin Shattenkirk

Goalies
Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches
Nate Schmidt, Taylor Chorney

CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals Digital Producer JJ Regan and the CSN Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and CSN's Facebook page.

Keep up with all the action here with Capitals GameZone and join in on the conversation here with Capitals Pulse.