- The Washington Times - Monday, August 2, 2004

The Washington Mystics don’t know whether star forward Chamique Holdsclaw plans to rejoin the team after the month-long Olympic break.

The Mystics don’t return to action until Sept.1, when they play host to the Indiana Fever, and Holdsclaw’s return is as uncertain as her sudden disappearance last week for minor medical issues.

“I can’t answer that because I don’t know,” coach Michael Adams said. “You read the statement. She’ll let us know when she’s ready to go.”

In a statement released Thursday, Holdsclaw said she would sit out the next two games, including the Mystics’ 82-62 romp of the Phoenix Mercury yesterday before 15,093 at MCI Center.

“I came back on Wednesday night [a 73-65 loss to the Detroit Shock] and didn’t feel 100 percent,” Holdsclaw said in her statement. “I recognize now that I need to focus on my medical issues.”

Unexpectedly, the Mystics seem to be improving without Holdsclaw, a three-time WNBA All-Star forward and the league’s second-leading scorer (19.0). In fact, the August break may have come at the wrong time for the Mystics (12-14), who have built some chemistry and found some offensive balance in their last two games. Washington also beat the Connecticut Sun 69-68 on Friday.

“The bottom line is we’ve got to play with the players that we have,” Adams said. “When the time comes and [Holds[d-]claw is] back, then we’ll welcome her with open arms.”

The Mystics have won two of their three games without Holdsclaw this season. Yesterday’s 20-point rout of the Mercury (12-13) was Washington’s biggest margin of victory this season and enabled the Mystics to move out of last in the Eastern Conference.

“We just have to get back together in August and hopefully ‘Mique has worked out her problems, or whatever, and she can come back and join the team,” power forward Chasity Melvin said. “I’m sure she’s watching us and supporting us from wherever she is, and when she comes back she won’t feel so much pressure like she’s got to do it [all].”

Four of the five Mystics’ starters scored in double figures yesterday, led by Melvin’s 17 points. Rookie guard Alana Beard had 16 points; guard Stacey Dales-Schuman added 14 points, four rebounds and four assists; and center Nakia Sanford contributed 11 points and four rebounds.

“I think they’re a different team,” Mercury coach Carrie Graf said. “Your team takes on a different shape and a different form when you take out a key scorer and you’ve had time to work together, and obviously they showed that today because they played a heck of a team game.”

Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi, who was the top pick in April’s WNBA Draft, played only four minutes, all in the first half, because of a hip pointer. Taurasi, the WNBA’s fourth-leading scorer at 17.2 points, did not attempt a shot in her limited appearance.

Taurasi said she has her mind on the Athens Olympics anyway.

“I am anxious and excited to get it going,” Taurasi said. “We start in New York on Aug.5 for the All-Star Game [Team USA vs. WNBA All-Stars]. We head to Athens after that, and I am looking forward to it.”

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