Three Takeaways: Wings beat Mystics, Glory Johnson is ridiculously good

TULSA, OK - AUGUST 8: Skylar Diggins and Glory Johnson
TULSA, OK - AUGUST 8: Skylar Diggins and Glory Johnson /

WASHINGTON, D.C.—This was not the Father’s Day that Washington Mystics head coach Mike Thibault had in mind.

On Sunday afternoon at the Verizon Center, the Mystics (7-4)  gave up a 13-point lead to the Dallas Wings (5-8) to lose their fourth game of the season, 87-83.

The Wings were certainly the in-form team early, making their first four shots to take an early four-point lead. But by the end of the first quarter, the Mystics had gotten their groove back, and it seemed like they would cruise. The Mystics had a three-point lead after 10 minutes, and a 13-point run put them up 29-17.

But the Wings did not give up. They began methodically chipping away at that deficit, and finally took the lead on two Christmas-Kelly free throws with 54 seconds left.

Overall, there were nine scorers in double digits, five for the Mystics and four for the Wings. Glory Johnson led the way with 27 points; the only other player above 20 was Tayler Hill for the Mystics with 21. Theresa Plaisance led the way on the boards, with eight, and Skylar Diggins-Smith had the most assists, with eight.

Glory Johnson is a force

Johnson had her best game of the season, and one of the best games of her career, finishing 10-for-15 from the field and 5-for-8 from the line for 27 points. She added three rebounds (which is, admittedly, well below her season average of nine boards a game), and three assists.

While she was on the bench with a finger injury for some of the fourth quarter, Johnson is the only reason that the Wings were able to keep the Mystics from running away from it in the second and third quarters when the Mystics looked poised to run away with it. She had 16 points in the third quarter alone.

“Glory was just in attack mode, all over the glass, and when she had the ball she took it to the board and went right to the basket,” Delle Donne said.

“Just because they’re bigger than me doesn’t mean they’re faster than me, so then I started driving to the basket. My teammates stayed with me, so that was nice,” Johnson said after the game.

SAN ANTONIO TX – MAY 25: Skylar Diggins-Smith
SAN ANTONIO TX – MAY 25: Skylar Diggins-Smith /

The Wings are going to give a lot of teams trouble the rest of the season

Look, it’s been a June to forget for the Wings, who are just 2-7 on the month. But they are much more talented than their 5-8 record suggests, and they are fully poised to notch some big-time wins the rest of the year; nobody should sleep on them.

Besides Johnson, Theresa Plaisance is a terror inside and out. She had to sit out most of the second half due to foul trouble, but she was incredibly disruptive when she was on the floor, and managed to play the last seven minutes of the game with 5 fouls. She finished with 12 points, 8 rebounds, and two assists.

Allisha Gray is the real deal. The rookie was 5-for-8 for 12 points, with four rebounds and two steals. Her movement and physicality were particularly impressive for someone so new to the WNBA. Diggins-Smith was another bright spot for the Wings; while she has been under-the-radar lately, her 19 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds prove that she’s still one to watch.

The Wings are young and have played an incredibly tough schedule so far this season, but they have a lot of firepower on both ends of the court.

They Mystics still have a long way to go on defense

The Mystics shot 44.6% from the floor, had five players in double figures and finished with 83 points. That really should be enough to win the game.

So after the game, they all pinned this loss—which Thibault said was the most disappointing of the season—on their defense.

“We missed some easy shots but we put them at the free throw line, 29 free throw attempts and 11 offensive boards and eight 3s is not a good formula for winning,” Thibault said. Players were often out of position, and just simply got beat to too many rebounds.

“In defense we had lapses where we let them get in their comfort zone,” Elena Delle Donne said.

Delle Donne had her worst game with the Mystics, scoring only 14 points and grabbing only two rebounds. Thibault said that when Delle Donne is double teamed—which is most of the time—she’s still figuring out the balance between passing to her capable teammates and fighting through defenders herself.

Forward Tierra Ruffin-Pratt had a solid game, with 15 points and six rebounds, but she was pretty ineffective in the second half when the Wings zeroed in on her. Tayler Hill was the leading scorer for the Mystics with 21, but again had trouble coming up with big shots in the fourth quarter.

Kristi Tolliver missed a game-winning three pointer in the final seconds, and overall was a fairly invisible 2-4 for four points, two assists, and two rebounds. The other two guards, Natasha Cloud (0-for-5, 0 points) and Ivory Latta (1-for-6, 4 points) struggled as well.

The bright spots? That would be Tianna Hawkins, who was 5-7 for 13 points and seven rebounds, and Krystal Thomas, who made a highlight-worthy from-her-back-on-the-ground layup.

“I asked her to teach me that,” Delle Donne said. “She said we’d work on it.”

The Mystics have four full days off before they play next in Minnesota next Friday, so we’ll see how the training is going at the time.