Phoenix Mercury defeats the Washington Mystics, 90-82

USA TODAY Sports

Diana Taurasi had 31 points and 5 assists and Brittney Griner added 21 points to help the Mercury get back to 4-4 for the season by beating the Washington Mystics at home, 90-82. DC falls to 4-3 and is 0-2 on its three game West Coast trip.

You could call this game a disappointing loss for the Mystics, given their 4-1 start, but I am actually pleased to see that this team didn't just let Phoenix run them out of the arena by the fourth quarter or even earlier. Let's face it. The Mercury is a star studded roster and has legitimate championship aspirations this year. The Mystics don't have a star along the likes of a Diana Taurasi, but Ivory Latta regained her All-Star caliber level of play with 22 points and 5 assists. In short, I didn't see this DC team quit when the Mercury kept going on runs which got them to multiple double digit leads, in particular for the first half. That is commendable though I know Coach T will call this an expectation.

Here are some other notes on this game that I found of note as a Mystics fan:

1. Mercury Head Coach and GM Corey Gaines played professional basketball as a reserve player in the NBA in the late 1980's and early 1990's. He also once played for the Omaha Racers in the Continental Basketball Association. Who was the head coach of that team? You guessed it! Mystics GM and Head Coach Mike Thibault! I actually found a link on that, but it unfortunately talked about that team's demise.

2. The Mystics actually outrebounded the Mercury 33-32, and had 10 offensive rebounds as opposed to the Mercury's three. In fact, Emma Meesseman had three offensive boards by herself.

3. Even though Griner was kept in check from grabbing rebounds, she still had her impact made by making 10 of her 15 shots but only had one free throw all game. As expected, her shot blocking was felt as she had four swats on the night.

4. Matee Ajavon started the second half and had 18 points on the night after a 17 point performance against Seattle earlier this week. So far off the bench as the sixth man, Ajavon is averaging 41.5% shooting overall which is a career high and much better than last year's percentage which was bad. That leads to the next player on this list.

5. Tayler Hill was scoreless with 0-7 shooting in 17 minutes of play. But I do see a positive, even though I may be guilty of the Pygmalion Effect, where I just seem to try to look for anything positive from her and may be blowing it out of proportion. But anyway, she had multiple open looks and she took them which was something she didn't do before. Since Hill comes into the pros as a strong shooter, and soon, these shots are going to fall and defenses will have to account for her. As a rookie, and given that she hasn't really had a chance to get into much of a rhythm from my eye test, I'm fine with the shots she took, but she also needs to drive toward the hoop more as well. Nate doesn't think she looks like a deer in the headlights anymore and that her basketball instincts are good. I'm seeing that too. So, it's now time to just get her shot going.

6. Crystal Langhorne played under 23 minutes and had four points on 2-6 shooting plus four rebounds and once again had an un-Crystal Langhorne night. It's not like she had foul trouble where she only had two for the game....

7. These two teams meet again next Thursday at Verizon Center in Chinatown, and the Mystics to be quite honest have a chance to win the second match and it shouldn't be a shocker if it does happen.

The Mystics won't have much time to prepare for the third team on their road trip, which is against the Los Angeles Sparks which enjoyed an 87-59 win over the Minnesota Lynx last night and that game felt worse than that to be honest. Last year, DC got swept by LA in both of their meetings in 2012 which were both ugly games, but this time it should be a much more competitive affair.

The Mercury will start a three game road trip which includes the Mystics and the Connecticut Sun, but they'll start the trip against the San Antonio Silver Stars next Tuesday. The Stars lost to the Storm, 91-86 at home last night.

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