Three Takeaways: Washington Mystics beat Indiana Fever and leaky roof 100-80

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 12: Krystal Thomas
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 12: Krystal Thomas /

WASHINGTON, D.C.–On Saturday night at the Capitol One Arena, the Washington Mystics defeated the Indiana Fever 100-80. The win kept the Mystics in the driver’s seat for the coveted fourth seed in the playoffs, which will guarantee them a bye, and it kept the Fever’s hopes for a 13th-straight postseason appearance at bay.

But the game won’t be remembered for any of those reasons.

Instead, the game will be added into WNBA lore due to a surreal 48-minute delay at halftime that was caused by a leak in the Capital One Arena roof, and which the players passed, in part, with an electric dance-off at half court. Yeah, it was pretty epic.

While nothing will top that, there was some impressive basketball on the court too, particularly from the Mystics, who swept the series against the Fever thanks to shooting a season-best 57.6 percent from the field and 58.8 percent from three. They also out-rebounded the reeling Fever 35-25. It’s not all bad news for the Fever, though — Candace Dupree led all players with scoring with a cool 26.

Here’s what we learned from a strange night in the nation’s capital.

Krystal Thomas made a case for Mystics’ team MVP

Elena Delle Donne and Kristi Toliver are worth their weight in gold, but with so many injuries and absences throughout the season, Thomas might be the Mystics’ most valuable offseason addition.

The veteran had a career-high 20 points and a game-high 14 rebounds on Saturday night. After an embarrassing performance from the free-throw line a week ago against the Phoenix Mercury, Thomas redeemed herself–she was 7-for-8 from the field and 6-for-6 from the line. This was her seventh game in a row with double digits in rebounds, and her 12th of the year. The Mystics affectionately call her a “monster,” and it’s hard to argue with that description, at least from a basketball perspective. Her power and aggression inside gives the Mystics an automatic edge over at least half of the teams in the league, because they just simply don’t have the size to counter her.

Her statistics are praise-worthy enough, but Thomas helps her team off of the court, too. Head coach Mike Thibault and all of Thomas’s teammates are in awe of her vocal leadership, which has helped steady the team though the many ups and downs of this season.

Shatori Walker-Kimbrough has put down the rookie card

For the first couple of months of the season, rookie guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough often looked lost when Thibault put her in the game. But in the past couple of weeks she has really settled down and come into her own, and she is beginning to show flashes of the potential that prompted the Mystics to select her sixth overall in the draft.

The Maryland star had a career-high 13 points on Saturday night. She was physical inside, which allowed her to get to the line four times, and she took advantage of that, going 7-for-8 in free throws. She also hit two three pointers and got two steels.

With Tayler Hill out for the season with a torn ACL, Walker-Kimbrough’s development is necessary for the Mystics to have any substantial stay in the playoffs. Coach Thibault said after the game that he told her in practice on Thursday that her rookie days are over, because the team really needs her now. On Saturday, she showed that the message was received.

Candace Dupree is automatic

There is no doubt this has been a frustrating season for Candice Dupree, who is the leader of a team that has only won two games since July began. But she is still managing to put up All-Star statistics game in and game out.

Saturday night was no exception. She scored 26 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and had three steals on the night. She was by far the most focused and aggressive player on either team after the lengthy leak delay, which is a testament to her professionalism and focus.

Three other Fever players scored in double digits, but the Fever were pretty rattled by the Mystics’ defense all night long. Both Erica Wheeler, who was coming off of the game against the New York Liberty where she scored a career-high 33 points, and Jazmon Gwathmey were only 3-for12 from the field.

Even strengths turned into weaknesses for the Fever in D.C.–the team leads the league in free-throw percentage at 85.2 percent, but only shot 68.8 percent from the line on Saturday. The Fever still have an outside chance to sneak into the playoffs, but they’re going to have to do better than that if they want to change their fortunes.