Liberty-Mystics Preview

Ivory Latta remembers the Washington Mystics getting off to a slow start in 2013 before rallying to make the playoffs.

That’s part of the reason she isn’t fretting over Washington’s early struggles as it prepares to host the New York Liberty on Friday night.

The Mystics (1-2) limped to a 4-6 start last season before finishing third in the Eastern Conference, and Latta is expecting them to bounce back similarly this season despite dropping their first two home games.

"It’s a long season," Latta said. "We didn’t start off the greatest last year, but when we started clicking on all cylinders, everything started working. We’ve got to get everybody going and get everybody comfortable."

Latta, averaging a team-best 15.3 points, scored 10 on Saturday against Seattle, which outscored Washington 29-19 in the third quarter en route to a 73-65 victory.

"We just have to look within ourselves and not let certain things happen, especially here on our home court," Latta said. "It starts with me. I’m the point guard. I feel like I let my team down. I put it all on my shoulders and I take fault for this."

While Washington looks to get back on track, the Liberty (2-2) will be seeking a second straight victory after rallying to beat the Storm 70-64 on Tuesday. Sugar Rodgers came off the bench and scored a career-high 15 points, but her main contribution was containing Sue Bird.

”It was great to contribute,” Rodgers said. ”Once I came into the pros I knew I had to pick up my defense.”

New York trailed by eight with less than three minutes remaining, but a 3-pointer from Rodgers began the comeback before the Liberty scored the game’s final 11 points.

She also drilled a 3-pointer to tie the score at 64 before Cappie Pondexter’s jumper put the Liberty ahead for good with 24.9 seconds left.

”She was a great scorer in college and you saw the old Sugar Rodgers tonight. She made some great plays,” coach Bill Laimbeer said. ”We knew she was a quality defender. Both ends of the floor, she was the difference in the game.”

Tina Charles, acquired in a draft-night trade with Connecticut, continued to shine as well. She’s averaging 15.8 points and 12.3 rebounds after scoring 15 and grabbing 14 boards against Seattle.

Charles hit only 6 of 19 from the field, though, and New York shot 37.7 percent as a team. It ranks ninth in the 12-team league at 40.9 percent on the season.

”We got some good looks, we didn’t finish some shots,” Laimbeer said.

The Liberty are holding opponents to 39.7 percent from the floor, good for second-best in the league. The Mystics rank one spot above New York in field-goal percentage, shooting 42 percent.

These teams split four meetings last season. Latta scored 12 points in a 70-52 victory in New York’s season finale as Pondexter sat out.