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  • Erica Blackburn

Mystics trying to find themselves late into the season

Just before the WNBA season resumed after the Olympic games, guard Natasha Cloud made the message clear: championship or nothing.

"This is about to be a new season for us, when we come back and we get everyone back, this is a new season," Myisha Hines-Allen told reporters when asked what teammate Natasha Cloud's message was to the team. "We are capable of winning a championship, we have all the pieces to win a championship. Players on this team know what it takes to win a championship."

But the injury gods didn’t do the Mystics any favors. Of the 18 games played, Elena Delle Donne missed all of them. Hines-Allen missed ten and Erica McCall missed eight with knee injuries, Cloud missed five and Sydney Wiese missed four with ankle injuries. But there was still a glimmer of hope. Tina Charles’ been balling out of her mind this season, putting up 30 points and 10 rebounds in last night’s loss to the Las Vegas Aces. Ariel Atkins continues to impress, also chipping in 24 points last night. Those players who missed a lot of time due to injury have returned to practice and participated in team activities & played in games. But they still haven’t put it all together for four quarters.

The Mystics lost to the Aces for the second time in three days, 93-83 at the Michelob Ultra Arena Tuesday night. After blowing a huge lead to the Aces on Sunday night, the Mystics were looking to bounce back in a major way. They got off to a good start, but they couldn’t carry their intensity over to the second half. “We're not as good as [the Aces] right now,” head coach Mike Thibault said following the second loss. “We’re playing two to three quarters of good basketball. There’s no simple answer right now, that’s why they’re tied for first.”

So who are these Washington Mystics? Are they the championship team they see themselves as, or are they the 8-12 team who find themselves outside the playoff bubble? How can the Mystics string together wins in order to live up to the lofty goals they’ve set for themselves?

“We need to be more locked in, we need to be more engaged, we got to want it more,” Tina Charles said. “It's not like we don't have the pieces to do it nor the people who can do it. I don't know what to say, it's very disappointing at this point, a little bit. First half we look like a championship team and then second half, I'm not very sure.”

“You don't really get the opportunity to just be like, 'oh, we'll fix it next game. Oh we'll fix it next game, oh we'll fix it next game,' and before you know it the season's over and you don't have a playoff spot,” Atkins said. “So, it's really important that we try to figure out what [discipline] means for us because it can mean different things for everybody. We don't need to worry about nothing else but winning games.”

The Mystics continue their west-coast tour on Thursday against the Phoenix Mercury. Tip off is at 10 p.m. ET.

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