- Associated Press - Monday, June 8, 2015

Washington is off to a great start. The Mystics are 2-0 for the first time since 2010 after wins over Connecticut and New York. Mike Thibault’s squad hosts Atlanta on Friday before a rematch with the Liberty in New York on Sunday.

“Defense is our identity for the moment,” Thibault says. “We have to start making some threes at some point. … I told them inside the locker room just now that I’m having a hard time embracing being 2-0 with them shooting 36 percent every night, but right now I will take that.”

The Mystics have started well despite missing two starters, but they hope both Kia Vaughn (hip flexor) and Bria Hartley (stress fracture in right foot) are able to return Friday against the Dream.

While Washington will get back its starters soon, Connecticut won’t have Chiney Ogwumike in the lineup for the entire season.

The reigning rookie of the year is recovering from microfracture surgery in her knee. Ogwumike had the surgery in January and it usually takes six to nine months to heal so last week’s announcement was not unexpected.

“Any time I talk to a fan, a coach or a teammate, they ask me ‘do you want to come back?’ Everyone knows I do. But it’s a long-term thing,” Ogwumike said. Even fans say take your time. … You think I want to be dressed up on the sideline? Even though I look like I’m happy, I just want to run on the court sometimes. I trust in my doctors, trust in our organization and my teammates. They all see the bigger picture.”

Even though she’s sidelined, Ogwumike will still be a big presence off the court for the Sun.

“It’s going to be an informative year for me, I’ll see what the coaches see,” said Ogwumike, who also plans to continue to work in the community.

Ogwumike’s older sister Nneka also missed the opening weekend. She sprained her left ankle during a Sparks’ exhibition game in Connecticut on May 29. Los Angeles doesn’t play again until Sunday and she may be back for that one.

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PUTTING IN WORK

Rebekkah Brunson still doesn’t get the headlines of her more heralded teammates, including Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus.

Not that Brunson is pouting. Oh no, she is just putting in work: averaging 14 points and 15 boards per game.

Crystal Langhorne and Seattle will try to slow her down on Thursday, then the Mercury - without the suspended Brittney Griner - get their shot on Sunday.

ATLANTA’S NIGHTMARE

The Dream have stumbled out of the gate.

Atlanta, which finished with the best record in the East last year, has lost two games to start the season - both to conference opponents: Connecticut and New York.

“We’re still trying to find ourselves, get some people in rotation,” said Atlanta coach Michael Cooper. “We’ll rebound. We have three days to practice and we will come back from this” slow start.

GAME OF THE WEEK

In a rematch of the Western Conference finals, Minnesota visits Phoenix on Sunday. The Mercury won’t have Diana Taurasi or Brittney Griner for the game and will be coming home after playing back-to-back contests in New York and Indiana on Thursday and Friday. The Lynx got off to a strong start winning their first two games.

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STAT OF THE WEEK

Elena Delle Donne had a career-high 40 points in a loss to Tulsa on Saturday. She 13-for-24 from the field and 11-for-11 from the free throw line. “I’d trade a two-point game for a win,” Delle Donne said. She didn’t have to the night before in Chicago’s opener on Friday when she had 31 in a victory.

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Follow Doug on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg

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