- The Washington Times - Monday, August 13, 2001


One would be hard-pressed to top the action on Fun Street yesterday.
Tipper Gore was in the house. Washington Mystics guard Nikki McCray sang the national anthem. Christopher and his dancing dummies performed at halftime. There was even a race for 6-month-old infants.
A reporter for a French television station sported hot pink hair and yellow pants while interviewing countrywoman and Mystics guard Audrey Sauret. Legendary Tennessee coach Pat Summitt was ESPN's color commentator, which prompted Mystics' fans to quickly make signs that read "We want Pat."
And if that wasn't enough, the Mystics, in uncharacteristic fashion, did their part to add to the festivities. They won, which prompted the dropping of balloons from MCI Center's ceiling as Kool and the Gang's hit "Celebrate" blared from the public address system.
Chamique Holdsclaw recorded her 25th double-double of her career with 16 points and 16 rebounds and McCray scored 18 second-half points to help the Mystics snap a four-game losing streak with a 57-49 victory over the Cleveland Rockers before an announced crowd of 17,531 in the Mystics final home game of the season.
"It looked to me as if they were playing with a little purpose in what they were doing," said Rockers coach Dan Hughes. "They were interested in playing defense. They were interested in offensive rebounding. And they were interested, from an offensive standpoint, in attacking. They deserved to beat us today, but that's just today."
Holdsclaw, who openly criticized team management earlier in the week, showed her resolve when she tied her career-high in rebounds eight of which were offensive. McCray, who was scoreless in the first half on 0-for-4 shooting, made six of eight shots in the second half.
McCray, who did not live up to expectations this season, broke open the game early in the second half.
Trailing 37-33 with 14:31 left, McCray scored nine points in an 11-0 run that gave the Mystics (10-21) a 44-37 lead with 11:25 remaining. The Mystics never trailed again.
"It was just like I told some of my teammates today, just screw the system and let's just go play," Holdsclaw said. "Don't think so much. Play within the realm of the team, but I think sometimes you overanalyze things and get kind of tentative."
The Mystics disastrous season, their fourth straight losing season, ends tomorrow in New York against the playoff-bound Liberty. But there is a subplot to that meaningless game. If the Liberty (20-11) draw more than 14,315 fans for the game at Madison Square Garden (capacity: 19,563), the Mystics will not be able to say that they led the league in attendance this season.
For their past three seasons, the Mystics have hoisted banners to the rafters of MCI Center touting themselves as the league leader in attendance. The Liberty average 15,490 fans.
Yesterday, the Eastern Conference champion Rockers (22-9) had nothing to play for. The Rockers secured home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs on Aug. 8 and seemed to have little interest in playing the cellar-dwelling Mystics. And it showed.
The closest the Rockers got after the Mystics run was 46-43 on a Penny Taylor eight-foot turnaround jumper with 9:42 to play.
The 6-foot-1 Taylor, who averages 6.7 points as a rookie, is a reminder of what could have been for the Mystics. The Rockers drafted Taylor with the 10th-overall pick last April, one spot after the Mystics chose Coco Miller, who averages 1.7 points and rarely plays.
"I'm thinking Annie [Burgess] is a lucky girl to be here, but that is only because of the crowd," Taylor said of her friend and fellow Australian.

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