- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 7, 2002

It may be too late for Chamique Holdsclaw to save this sinking ship and get the Washington Mystics into the playoffs. After an outstanding 15-6 start, the Mystics are fading fast.
Indiana Fever rookie forward Tamika Catchings scored a game-high 28 points, including making five of 12 3-pointers, as the Fever defeated the Mystics 64-55 last night in a crucial game before 14,986 at MCI Center.
It really gets difficult now for the Mystics (15-13), who have lost seven straight. With only four games remaining, the team plays a back-to-back home and away series with the Eastern Conference-leading New York Liberty tomorrow and Friday and then finish the season with two road games Sunday at the Cleveland Rockers and Tuesday at the Charlotte Sting.
"Every time we approach postseason, we're like always waiting and seeing what the other teams are doing," Holdsclaw said. "We want to control our own destiny and we haven't done that. We've always worried what the other teams are doing."
Holdsclaw, who sat out Sunday's ugly 55-50 loss at the Miami Sol with a sprained right ankle, started last night and struggled mightily in the first half. Holdsclaw, the Mystics' leading scorer (21 points) and rebounder (11.5 rebounds), made four of 11 shots in the first half for a team-high nine points.
After the game, Holdsclaw said she didn't force her offense, but is struggling with her leaping because of her two severely sprained ankles.
"My legs are shot right now," Holdsclaw said. "I'm not going to use that as an excuse. Even at 80 percent, I think I can do things other players can't. I'm not getting up. I can't move."
The Mystics and Holdsclaw were totally out of sync offensively and were fortunate to trail just 27-25 at halftime. Holdsclaw attacked the basket, but on certain possessions she would leave her feet and have nowhere to go. In those situations, Holdsclaw would kick the ball back out to the perimeter and either throw it away (four turnovers) or put the Mystics in a position with precious few seconds left on the shot clock.
"We're not making the appropriate decisions with the basketball in order to get the quality shot," Mystics coach Marianne Stanley said. "That's what's happening right now."
The Mystics' halfcourt offense has serious problems. With no post presence, the Mystics can't dump it low to a bona fide inside scorer. Until this losing streak, the Mystics were able to get by without a true center by slashing off the wings and shooting well.
In the first half, the Mystics didn't shoot well (10-for-28, 35.7 percent) and Holdsclaw was the main culprit because she took so many shots. Holdsclaw made one of 10 shot attempts in the second half and finished just 5-for-21 from the field for 11 points. As a team, the Mystics shot 37.3 percent (22 of 59).
Catchings, the Fever's All-Star rookie, simply punished the Mystics from behind the 3-point arc for 15 of her 28 points.
"It's kind of hard [to play defense] when other people are scoring on our team, too," said Catchings, who pushed the Fever's record to 13-15 and a hold on all tiebreakers with the Mystics. "They kept helping off on me and leaving me open on the 3-point line and that's where I spent most of my time shooting."
Note In an attempt to get more rebounding production, the Mystics activated center Tausha Mills from the injured reserve list and placed forward Maren Walseth on the injured list. The 6-foot-3 Mills has done virtually nothing this season since opening the season on the injured list. In two games, Mills has not scored a point and pulled down just three rebounds.

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