Mystics rally falls short vs. Liberty

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Mystics rally falls short vs. Liberty

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Cappie Pondexter scored 25 points, the New York Liberty took control with a 30-5 first-half run and survived a frantic fourth quarter for their first road victory of the season, 76-70 over the Washington Mystics on Friday night.

Leilani Mitchell hit four 3-pointers and scored 16 points for the Liberty, winners of three straight after opening the season 0-5. The latest victory also snapped a five-game losing streak in Washington dating to the 2009 season. The Liberty lost their three previous road games this season by an average of 21.3 points.

New York shot 60 percent (21 of 35) from the field in the first half, including 5 of 6 from beyond the arc and held a 29 point with just under nine minutes 9 in the second quarter.

Crystal Langhorne led the Mystics (1-5) with 24 points.

Trailing 65-45 late in the third quarter, the Mystics pulled closer when Langhorne fueled a 15-2 run, followed by a spree of 3-point field goals. Matee Ajavon drilled her second from beyond the arc in the fourth quarter with 1:37 remaining as Washington trailed 73-70, but Essence Carson countered with a 3-pointer of her own on New York's next possession.

Langhorne scored 10 points during the second-half rally. In her first start this season, Michelle Snow finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

With the Liberty leading 12-8 midway through the first quarter, Pondexter's running layup started a 13-0 run. Up 27-13, New York had a 15-0 spurt capped by Carson's three-point play that made it 42-13. Pondexter had 16 points in the first half, while Mitchell was perfect on three attempts from beyond the arc.

The Liberty's recent good fortune has coincided with increased production from the starting backcourt.

After failing to score 20 points in the opening five games, Pondexter has topped that mark in three straight, averaging 25.3 points. In that span, Mitchell has connected on 11 of 18 (61.1 percent) 3-point attempts.

Carson finished with 13 points for the Liberty.

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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]