The matchup: The Mystics (2-7) finish their three-game road trip with a stop Sunday in Seattle (7 p.m. ET), a locale that has hardly been accommodating over the years, but where they now hope to salvage their left coast excursion. After being routed in Los Angeles, Washington blew a late lead at Phoenix on Wednesday for its second straight loss and sixth in seven games. Now the Mystics look to snap a six-game skidon the Storms home court, a place they have not emerged victorious from since2005. Their timing is not ideal, as the Storm (4-7) have found their way with three straight victories and alsoswept the 2011 season series. The home-and home scenario concludes Tuesday when the two sides meet at the Verizon Center.Last time out: Behind another sterling interior effort from center Michelle Snow and Monique Curries bench scoring, the Mystics led the shorthanded Mercury 74-69 with 2:26 remaining. It did not go so well from there, outscored 11-3 the rest of the way for an 80-77 loss. Phoenixs eight active players struggled from distance throughout, but drilled consecutive 3-pointers in the closing stretch and made their free throws, something the Mystics failed to accomplish.One, we left them Mercury open for two wide-open threes, and really down the stretch we missed our free throws, Mystics coach Trudi Lacey said after he squad shot 46.7 percent (7 of 15) from the foul line. If we hadnt missed our free throws, it wouldnt have been the game. I think that those two things really hurt us down the stretch...we just needed to close it out and we didnt.Still Snow-ing: Starting her fourth straight game, Snow led the Mystics with 21 points on 9 of 12 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds. The 10-year veteran, one of the several new players added this offseason, has scored 36 points in her last two games after scoring 32 over the first seven games. The 6-foot-5 glass-eating center has averaged 10 rebounds per game during the four-game starting stretch.Mo Currie required: A career 37-percent shooter from beyond the arc, Currie entered Phoenix having missed all nine of her 3-point attempts over her previous four games.Perhapstaking to her bench role,Currie got hot from deep and elsewhere in the Valley of the Sun, sinking 3 of 5 from long range and 8 of 16 overall. We just need to win, so whatever I can bring to the table, or what anyone can bring to the table, were willing to do it and trying to do it, Currie said of adjusting to not being in the starting lineup. Were just trying to get the best out of everyone. Storm clouds lifting: Without all-everything center Lauren Jackson the Aussie is preparing for the upcoming summer Olympics the Storm labored early in the season with losses in six of seven games. Now, Seattles remaining stars are directing a charge back up the standings, led by point guard Sue Bird (12.4 points, 5.3 assists). Former Mystics Katie Smith (7.5 points) and Victoria Dunlap are also part of the Storms roster. Smith scored 13 points and knocked down three 3-pointers in Friday's 92-76 win over San Antonio. Dunlap, part of the trade that brought Crystal Robinson to Washington, could missSunday's game while recovering from a concussion.
As soon as the Lakers drew the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, it was logical to connect the dots to Lonzo Ball, currently considered by most as the second-best prospect in this year's class. Add in the fact he's from Anaheim, went to UCLA and already had his father saying he wanted his son to play for the Lakers, and it seemed like fate.
Now Ball wants to ensure that even further. According to Celtics front office boss Danny Ainge, Ball will not work out for Boston, who hold the No. 1 pick. The Celtics are currently projected to take Markelle Fultz out of the University of Washington, but they would definitely like to get a look at Ball before making the decision. Ball, though, won't let that happen.
Ainge broke the news on the Toucher and Rich show in Boston:
According to Danny Ainge on our show this morning, Lonzo Ball informed the Celtics that he will not be working out for them. #Celtics— Toucher and Rich (@Toucherandrich) May 25, 2017
Players turn down workouts relatively often. Victor Oladipo opted not to work out for the Wizards in 2013, knowing they were set at the guard position with John Wall and Bradley Beal. But who says no to the No. 1 pick? Clearly, Ball is serious about playing for the Lake Show.
For more on the offseason, listen to our latest episode of the Wizards tipoff podcast:
On Monday, Redskins coach Jay Gruden said that even though there have been a lot of changes to his team’s defense, there would be no grace period for them to gel and start playing effectively.
“We have a new defensive coordinator, new defensive line coach, new secondary coach,” said Gruden. “We have some new players on defense, some free agent acquisitions, some draft picks. They’re going to have to learn on the fly and learn to play together, which is going to be the biggest challenge for us.
“I don’t think patience is in the dictionary here in D.C. We have to be good now.”
RELATED: Who are the Redskins' roster locks?
The defense had plenty of issues last year. They were 19th in points allowed but 28th in yards and 20th in opponents’ passer rating. The unit saved its worst for the most critical situations, finishing 26th in red zone defense and dead last in third-down conversion rate.
The organization responded by promoting Greg Manusky to defensive coordinator, hiring the well-regarded Jim Tomsula to coach the defensive line, and by bringing in some more talent. Their top two draft picks, DE Jonathan Allen and OLB Ryan Anderson, should contribute to the defense right away. D.J. Swearinger was signed as a free agent to man the free safety spot while Su’a Cravens moves from linebacker to play strong safety. Free agents Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee should bolster the defensive line along with Allen.
Cornerback Josh Norman likes the changes and is confident that the team will do better.
“We will be [good]. Fixed points, will be,” he said. “We’ve got guys that’s capable of being that, of doing that. They will do that and we will be better. We’re definitely not going to have the product that we had last year, that’s for sure.
“We’ve got . . . edge rushers out here that’s pretty darn good. We got some guys in the draft that’s going to help us out. In the secondary as well, we brought guys in that’s going to fill that void for us.”
MORE REDSKINS: OTA practice observations
In addition to drafting Anderson, the Redskins hope to have OLB Junior Galette healthy and contributing to the pass rush this year. He has missed the last two seasons after two Achilles injuries. The last two seasons that Galette played he had double-digit sacks each year and he was out participating in team drills yesterday, a good sign that he is on the road to good health.
“We’re going to be a whole lot better than we was last year,” said Norman. “The stuff they have us going, the scheme we’re going to be playing in is going to fit to what suits us, what we’re most capable of doing. I think it’s going to be a lot different result, the product on the field.”
A better defensive product on the field will almost certainly lead to a better overall Washington Redskins team. They will need to be better to keep up with what looks to be an improved and very competitive NFC East.