- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 21, 2002

The Washington Mystics had better hope Chamique Holdsclaw's convalescent period is over because it appears they have exhausted their quota of victories without their undisputed star.
A healthy Holdsclaw could have made a difference yesterday. Playing better defense also would have helped.
All five Utah starters scored in double figures, led by All-Star guard Marie Ferdinand's 21 points, and the Starzz easily defeated the Mystics 83-73 before 16,477 at MCI Center.
This was just the second home loss of the season for the Mystics (15-7). Washington's Eastern Conference lead dwindled to 1 games over the second-place Charlotte Sting (13-8) and two games over third-place New York Liberty (13-9).
The Mystics have 10 regular-season games left, five on the road. Holdsclaw practiced at full speed Friday but was not cleared to play in this game by the team physician. If the Mystics don't secure homecourt advantage throughout the conference playoffs, they can look at this game as one in which they really needed Holdsclaw.
Holdsclaw, who injured her left ankle June 28 in Portland, has missed the last eight games and 10 overall this season. In her absence, the Mystics surprisingly have gone 6-4. They also played yesterday's game without point guard Annie Burgess, who sat out with a left calf strain.
"It's time for Chamique and Annie come back," center Vicky Bullett said. "We really need them, we really do."
The Starzz (15-7) executed their offense to perfection with textbook pick-and-roll plays, great transition and outstanding shooting. Utah made 29 of 56 shot attempts (51.8 percent), including four of six from behind the 3-point arc. Starzz perimeter players accounted for 57 of the team's 83 points.
Point guard Jennifer Azzi scored a season-high 19 points on 5-for-7 shooting from the field. Adrienne Goodson, Utah's All-Star small forward, contributed 17 points on 7-for-15 shooting, while Ferdinand made eight of 11 shots. And if the Starzz backcourt wasn't enough, power forward Natalie Williams quietly posted a double-double with 10 points and 16 rebounds.
Meanwhile, the Mystics' backcourt had a night to forget. Rookie Stacey Dales-Schuman was scoreless in 18 minutes and took only two shots. Shooting guard Coco Miller made just three of 11 attempts from the field and finished with nine points.
With their backcourt in disarray, the Mystics' frontcourt carried the team. Forward Murriel Page tied her career high with 20 points. Rookie forward Asjha Jones added 14 points and Bullett 11.
Judging how the Mystics played the first half, they looked like the team that had played the night before instead of the Starzz. Utah, which lost to Orlando 84-73 on Friday night, simply took it to the Mystics.
Margo Dydek, Utah's 7-foot-2 center, totally intimidated the Mystics' halfcourt offense. The Mystics would take one look at Dydek, who camped out in the lane in a one-woman zone, and either turn over the ball or bypass shots. That's what a 7-2 player can do to an opponent with its go-to player in street clothes.
"Dydek just stopped our offense completely," Bullett said.
"We were trying to run [Dydek] away from the basket," Mystics coach Marianne Stanley said. "It's hard to go at the rim with someone who is 7-2. In transition, we attacked well because she's not back yet on defense. In the lane, you've got to be quick. If you don't get more than two steps on her that's 7-2 she's on top of you."
Dydek finished with 12 points all in the second half and added five rebounds, three blocks and two assists.
When the Mystics ran, they were successful. Page scored a bulk of her points in transition. But without a true point guard on the floor, the Mystics could run only in spurts and could not sustain an uptempo game.
Comedian Chris Rock, wearing a Holdsclaw jersey, shot a segment of his upcoming movie, "Head of State," during halftime. in his role as Mays Gilliam, Rock showed the MCI Center crowd how not to shoot the basketball. From the middle of the lane about 10 feet out Rock missed his first four shots before swishing his fifth attempt for the take. As he was leaving the court, Rock offered this gem to the big crowd: "You're all in the movie, but I'm the only one getting paid."

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