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Both plagued by injuries, the Seattle Storm and Washington Mystics are not performing like the contenders they were in 2010 going into their matchup Sunday night at Verizon Center.

The defending WNBA champion Storm (4-3) will play their third game without reigning MVP Lauren Jackson, who expects to miss up to 12 weeks after surgery to repair a torn labrum in her left hip. Without Jackson, Seattle misses an inside presence which was apparent in Friday's 75-70 loss to Connecticut.

Though Swin Cash led all scorers with 25 points, including 12 for 12 at the free-throw line, the Storm frontcourt couldn't compensate defensively for Jackson's absence as Sun center Tina Charles had 20 points and 10 rebounds. Seattle couldn't recover from a 12-point halftime deficit.

"We have a good group of people in that locker room who are great competitors," coach Brian Agler said. "But in this league, it doesn't matter if you have all your people or you're missing people. If you don't come out ready to play from the beginning, you're going to find yourself playing from behind."

Conversely, Washington (2-5) never trailed in its most recent game and defeated Tulsa 83-63 last Sunday, ending a four-game losing streak.

Crystal Langhorne scored 23 points and Nicky Anosike added 13 points and 10 rebounds.

"When you have four losses in a row, that can easily turn into five, six, seven," Anosike said. "I think we were just desperate and we played desperate."

The Mystics were the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs in 2010, but they're in last place this season due partly to the injury bug. A foot problem has kept Alana Beard from taking the court, and fellow star Monique Currie is out for the year after tearing her ACL while playing in Turkey during the offseason.

Langhorne is trying to make up for those absences, averaging a career-high 18.1 points, but she also leads the WNBA with 4.3 turnovers per game after committing 11 against Tulsa. Teammate Matee Ajavon averages 4.0 turnovers to rank second in the league but contributes 16.0 points per game - about double her career average - after scoring 21 last Sunday.

Washington coach Trudi Lacey believes her young team is improving. Aside from 10-year veteran Kelly Miller, no Mystics player has more than three years of experience, including four rookies.

"We have been growing up a little bit day by day," Lacey said. "I'm not a mother, but it is like raising children."

Washington has relied heavily on its starting lineup with the youthful bench averaging only 12.1 of the team's 77.3 points per game.

These teams split two meetings last season as Cash and Langhorne each averaged 14.5 points. The Storm have lost their last four visits to Washington.

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