- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 28, 2002

The Washington Mystics have officially run out of both four-time All-Stars to activate off the injured list and excuses for their recent skid.
Playing in her first game since spraining her ankle last month, Washington forward Chamique Holdsclaw posted her best-ever offensive effort in a Mystics uniform last night against the Seattle Storm. But her career-high 32 points weren't a cure-all for the Mystics, who blew a 14-point lead in an 80-71 loss at MCI Center.
"I tried to go out there and do what I could, but I just cannot do it alone," Holdsclaw said. "It's going to take a team effort."
Starting with 7:12 left to play, Seattle's Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson combined to reel off 22 of the Storm's final 25 points. The pair keyed a 12-0 run that turned a 66-59 deficit into a 71-66 Seattle lead. Washington which committed 19 turnovers to Seattle's eight never recovered. Jackson finished with 25 points and Bird 21.
"We knew that [Seattle] had two mainstay players and we had to shut them down collectively," Holdsclaw said. "We didn't do that tonight."
The loss extended the Mystics' losing streak to three games and cut their lead over second-place New York to just a single game in the Eastern Conference standings.
"Everybody including Chamique would rather have a win than an individual highlight reel, but it just didn't work out that way," Mystics coach Marianne Stanley said.
After letting a 14-point first-half advantage dwindle to two by halftime, Washington led by as many as eight in the second half when guard Helen Luz's 3-pointer rattled in with 11:17 to play. Seattle reserve Felicia Ragland then rattled off Seattle's next six points to trim the lead to two, but Holdsclaw netted six of Washington's next eight to push the Mystics' lead to 66-59 with 5:02 left.
But that's when Bird and Jackson started finding success running the pick-and-roll. Washington, which had relied almost exclusively on Holdsclaw to stave off Seattle's earlier comeback bids, ran out of answers.
"They might have relaxed for just a split-second when they got that seven-point lead," Seattle coach Lin Dunn said. "And we took advantage of it."
The loss overshadowed a remarkable effort by Holdsclaw, who needed just 1:13 to recover her shooting touch after missing nine games.
On her second shot, Holdsclaw swished a baseline jumper to give the Mystics their first basket.
Moments later, she hauled in a defensive rebound over two Storm players, then hit forward Stacey Dales-Schuman in stride with an outlet pass for a fastbreak lay-up.
The play ignited an 11-0 Washington run that gave the Mystics a 13-2 lead.
When Holdsclaw snaked around three players and converted a layup with 10:42 left, it pushed Washington's lead to 14, its largest of the game.
But after missing 10 of its first 11 shots, Seattle woke up. Led by Jackson's seven-point outburst in a span of 2:19, the Storm ended the first half trailing by just two in spite of Holdsclaw's 18 points.
"We started out well because we were moving the ball," said Mystics forward Vicky Bullett. "When we stop moving the ball, that's when we kill ourselves. It's the same thing every time that's the reason why we lose."


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