- The Washington Times - Friday, June 20, 2003

Slumped in a chair in the Washington Mystics’ locker room Wednesday night, Chamique Holdsclaw wasn’t about to panic.

The Mystics (2-6) had just been beaten 69-61 by a Sacramento team that entered the night with losses in six of its previous seven games. They couldn’t manage a victory even with a 17-point, 17-rebound performance by Holdsclaw in her first game off the injured list. And they further solidified their grip on last place in the Eastern Conference, 3 games back of pacesetting Detroit with more than a quarter of the season played.

Yet Holdsclaw simply smiled and shook her head when asked about the current condition of the Mystics.

“I’m not going to get stressed or say, ‘Shoulda, woulda, coulda,’” said the four-time WNBA All-Star, who missed four games with a sore right hamstring. “You’ve got to let it go. I choose not to stress. Been there, done that.”

Washington, on its second three-game losing streak of the season, tries to get back on track on the road tonight against Cleveland (4-3). The Mystics don’t have much more time if they are to regain the form that helped them earn a spot in last season’s Eastern Conference finals.

“Nobody’s panicking yet,” coach Marianne Stanley said. “We’re not happy about this and we hate to lose, but it’s a long season.”

Cleveland is coming off of a 70-57 loss at Connecticut on Wednesday in a revenge game for the Sun after they were embarrassed 84-56 by the Rockers on Saturday. Washington will face both of those teams in the next week, with a home game against Connecticut looming Tuesday.

“They’re coming off a loss, too, so there’s plenty of motivation for both teams,” Stanley said.

The Mystics might have a little bit more because it was the Rockers who spoiled their June6 home opener with a 63-53 win. In that game, the Mystics had a franchise record-low 14 first-half points and shot just 25.9 percent (7-for-27) en route to a 34-14 halftime deficit.

A key factor tonight will be how the Mystics deal with 6-foot-3 center Chasity Melvin, who averages a team-high 11.1 points and 6.1 rebounds and led the Rockers with 13 points and 10 rebounds in the earlier meeting.

“We’ve got to try and limit her touches,” Stanley said.

In Washington’s last two losses, the opponent’s leading scorer did most of her damage in the post. Sacramento got 22 points from 6-4 center Yolanda Griffith, and Detroit was led by 6-2 forward Swin Cash’s 19 points in its 93-56 blowout of the Mystics on Saturday.

“It’s frustrating that our defense has not been better than it is,” Stanley said.

After Wednesday’s game, Holdsclaw wasn’t sure how her right hamstring would respond to the 35 minutes of action. She said she felt it tighten it up at halftime, and even a stationary bike ride couldn’t fully loosen it for the second half.

“It was pushed at a high degree,” Holdsclaw said. “But once I’m out there, I want to stay out there.”

Stanley said yesterday that Holdsclaw was “a little sore” but would practice yesterday and play tonight.

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