Delle Donne leads Mystics into matchup with Sparks

WASHINGTON — Two days after knocking off the Eastern Conference leaders on the road, the Washington Mystics will host the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Sparks on Friday night at Capital One Arena.

Elena Delle Donne scored a season-high 36 points, Kristi Toliver added 25 and the Mystics upset the Connecticut Sun 95-91 on Wednesday to snap a three-game losing streak.

Washington (6-4) squandered a 30-point lead and trailed 77-76 with 6:58 left, but Delle Donne scored the Mystics’ next 10 points to give them an 86-83 lead.

The teams traded the lead one more time before Toliver sank two late free throws to seal the win.

Washington shot 48.4 percent (31 of 64) from the field, including 9 of 21 from 3-point range. The Mystics are second in the WNBA in 3-point shooting percentage (36 percent).

Delle Donne missed four games because of illness and scored eight points in 26 minutes in her return against the Lynx. Wednesday’s game was her second back and she logged 36 minutes, hit 13 of 22 shots from the field, made all eight free throws and grabbed six rebounds.

“I thought Elena was sensational for us,” Washington coach Mike Thibault told the Norwich Sun. “They did a good job on Kristi Toliver in the second half, made it tough for her. We finally showed some composure in the last five minutes. That’s a huge win for us.”

The Sparks (6-2) travel east after a 4-1 homestand capped with a 72-64 win over the Atlanta Dream on Tuesday night.

Candace Parker scored 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, and Nneka Ogwumike had 11 points and 10 rebounds as the Sparks snapped the Dream’s three-game winning streak.

“Including the last game, I’m starting to see signs of how we’re starting to develop,” Sparks coach Brian Agler told the Los Angeles Daily News.

Chelsea Gray added 10 points and seven assists and Essence Carson hit 3 of 5 3-pointers for the Sparks. Los Angeles converted 7 of 15 3-point attempts compared with 2 of 12 for Atlanta, which shot just 38.5 percent from the floor.

The Sparks held the Dream to 11 points during an 11-minute stretch spanning the first and second quarters.

Atlanta closed within six points down the stretch, but Alana Beard and Parker hit back-to-back jumpers in the corner and the Sparks held on.

“We have to continue to get better,” Beard told highposthoops.com. “Our defense was a little better tonight. In terms of our rotations, reading off of each other, being proactive in our movements. And then offensively, just finding a better rhythm.”