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Hoops Happening: Delle Donne refused to stay late at the office

In last night’s other matchup, Bird dished the ball to Breanna and let the Stewie cook. Plus, where things stand, links and more. This is today in women’s basketball for Friday June 29, 2018!

Washington Mystics v Phoenix Mercury
Elena Delle Donne
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Another night in the WNBA — another night of thrills, surprises and impressive plays. Just don’t take this for granted, kids. Say please, thank you and always count your blessings.

Mystics (80) vs. Liberty (77)

The Washington Mystics edged out the New York Liberty on Thursday night behind a game-high 22 points from Elena Delle Donne, 12 points from Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and 10 from Kristi Toliver.

The Mystics got the win by coming to play early, winning the first three quarters and taking a 65-57 lead into the fourth. But the declining 4-10 Liberty — now in 11th place in the standings, three games ahead of the 1-14 Fever — made a push in the fourth, winning the quarter 20-15. It was enough for the Liberty to close the gap but not enough for them to get the win.

Despite glimmers of strength from Tina Charles, Kia Nurse and Bria Hartley at various times this season, the Liberty have found themselves four-deep into a losing streak. In the loss, Charles scored 18 points and Kia Vaughn contributed 16.

The single glimmer of hope for the remainder of New York’s season came from Epiphanny Prince having her best game of the season, scoring a team-high 21 points. If Prince, Shavonte Zellous and at least one bench player can produce in double figures each night, the Liberty can climb their way out of this hole. But right now the team seems unfocused, and the Liberty will also need more than five points from rookie hopeful Nurse in any given game.

Player of the game

The Mystics got the win on a buzzer-beating shot from Elena Delle Donne, who was ready to call it a night. Unwilling to stay late at the office, she nailed a dagger trey so that everyone could clock out and go home.

Delle Donne morphed into a beastlier version of herself after the shot and her teammates rejoiced wildly. Her ability to finish the game is a reminder of her dominance and leadership. These are the types of shots great players make and Delle Donne certainly is just that: a great player (who is often overlooked by the league’s other great players).

Storm (81) vs. Sparks (72)

Breanna Stewart’s game-high 27 points (tied with Candace Parker, who scored the same for LA) — and a 10-point and 11-assist double-double from Sue Bird — got it done for Seattle.

In the win, Jewell Loyd scored 13 points and Natasha Howard, who is steadily notching herself into Most Improved Player discussions, scored 14 points and snagged 8 rebounds. But the Storm chased, and secured, victory behind Stewart’s big-time scoring.

The recipe for Seattle, therefore, is: Dish the ball to Breanna, and let the Stewie cook.

For the Sparks, Parker staved off a blowout on her own power. To go with the tie game-high 27 points, Parker also pulled down 11 boards for a double-double. Nneka Ogwumike was out with injury, Cappie Pondexter had been released by the team and Jantel Lavender and Chelsea Gray were the only other LA players to score in double digits — 10 points for Lavender and 12 points for Gray.

Player of the game

Sue Bird engineered major scoring opportunities for Stewart and Howard. A stat line of 11 assists is one thing, but what those assists look like in a game is something else, and just ... bad ass, and beautiful!

Howard gliding to the bucket on a dish from Bird should be watched on repeat for five hours straight. And Bird’s assist performance is a reminder of why she will be inducted into the Halls of Fame as soon as she is eligible. Her court vision, sharp passes and play-making abilities are the eye of Seattle’s offensive Storm.

Where things stand

The Storm’s win over the Sparks has tightened the race at the top of the standings. LA remains in first place, but barely, with an 11-4 record, while the Storm and Mercury are tied at 11-5 for the second and third spots. The Mystics, meanwhile, are right back in the top-tier mix — fourth in the standings, with a 10-5 record.

The Liberty remain at 11th, three games ahead of the 1-14 Fever (who have been 12th all season) and one win behind the Aces (who are in 10th place).

Next up in the WNBA

The WNBA Friday night lineup includes four games, with action tipping off at 7 p.m. EST on League Pass.

Stay tuned for previews!

Link lush

Angel McCoughtry is no angel — not when it comes to picking the pockets of her opponents, at least. She has done it her whole career, and now she’s 10th in the league in all-time career steals.

How to #WatchThemWork all season

Shine brighter. * flicker flicker *