Eastern-leading Mystics host Wings (Jun 17, 2017)

BY AP • June 17, 2017

The Washington Mystics own the best record in the Eastern Conference despite dealing with absences and injuries. One of the wins came against the Dallas Wings, who are scuffling despite Skylar Diggins-Smith's stat-stuffing season.

The teams will meet for the second time in under two weeks when the Mystics host the Wings on Sunday.

Washington (7-3) capped a stretch of three games in six days with a dominant 88-70 win over the Indiana Fever on July 11. The victory followed a 25-point loss to Minnesota, the WNBA's lone undefeated team.

Elena Delle Donne skipped the Lynx matchup with a groin injury, but returned with 25 points in 25 minutes against the Fever.

Dallas (4-8) has dropped three in a row, including Friday's 102-93 overtime setback against the New York Liberty.

The Mystics led by as many as 21 points, hit 10 of 21 3-pointers and outrebounded Indiana 43-23. Ivory Latta and Tayler Hil each scored 12 points.

"Obviously every win is a good win but to bounce back that way is probably as satisfying as anything to have a game we needed to win," Mystics coach Mike Thibault said.

Delle Donne, the WNBA's third-leading scorer with 21.1 points per game, is the center piece of Washington's attack. That's especially true with Emma Meesseman still overseas with the Belgium National Team. Meesseman, who led the league in 3-point shooting last season, has only played in four games with the Mystics this campaign.

Thibault spent the first 10 games working around Meesseman's absence, but also incorporating several new players, including shooting threat Kristi Toliver, center Krystal Thomas and rookie Shatori Walker-Kimbrough.

"We are still not 100 percent healthy and not everybody is here," Thibault said. "But if you told me at the end of training camp that after 10 games we would be 7-3 despite all the stuff that has gone on, I would say, 'OK, we'll take it.' So there we are. Now we have a week to try and get healthy and get stuff cleaned up, better execution. It's a good position to be in."

Washington won at Dallas 101-89 on June 6 despite 23 points and seven assists from Diggins-Smith. The Wings shot 37.7 percent from the field. The starting backcourt of Diggins-Smith and Allisha Gray finished 8 of 29.

"They were aggressively defensively, getting in our space," Wings coach Fred Williams said following the first matchup with Washington. "They kind of clogged up the drive lanes for us."

Delle Donne also had 23 points while Toliver added 17 points with three 3-pointers in the first meeting.

"For us defensively, we just didn't switch on the backside for a few plays and they made a few big shots when they needed to," Williams said.

Diggins-Smith ranks among the top 10 in the league in scoring (16.8), assists (5.4) and steals (1.5).

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