- The Washington Times - Friday, May 27, 2005

Chamique Holdsclaw delighted Washington Mystics fans for the past six seasons with the type of game she had last night. But this time she was performing her heroics for the visiting team.

Holdsclaw took control when teammate and WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie was neutralized with foul trouble and led the Los Angeles Sparks to an 84-75 victory before a reported crowd of 12,243 at MCI Center. The All-Star forward, who forced a trade after missing half of last season with a medical condition she later identified as depression, finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds while playing all 40 minutes.

Holdsclaw’s effort offset a record-breaking night for the Mystics, who set a WNBA mark with 15 3-pointers in 29 attempts. Washington tied a club record with 10 3-pointers while building a 12-point lead in the first half. But Los Angeles rallied to take charge late, largely at the foul line where it was 30-for-33 overall.

?She was in a zone,? said Mystics forward DeLisha Milton-Jones, whom the Sparks traded for Holdsclaw. ?Wherever the ball was, she was there. If she didn’t get the ball, she tipped it to a teammate. She was getting offensive rebounds and was there in transition.?

The Mystics (1-2) again played without guard Alana Beard, who has missed all three games with a sprained right ankle. Charlotte Smith-Taylor led Washington with 17 points, including four 3s. Center Chasity Melvin had 16 points, while teammate Laurie Koehn had 15 while making four of seven 3-pointers.

?I wonder how I was here for six seasons and they could never get any [veterans] around me,? said Holdsclaw, who had only one winning season with the Mystics and left in part because of the team’s dismal record. ?That’s the thing ? the acquisition of Charlotte Smith and some young players is really exciting.?

Holdsclaw, who scored her 3,000th career point, made 13 of 14 free throws. Leslie had eight points and six rebounds in 21 foul-plagued minutes. Tamika Whitmore had 21 points for the Sparks, who outscored Washington 28-12 in the paint.

The Mystics were in control at 40-28 late in the first half and seemed in good shape when Leslie sat down with her third foul with 6:45 remaining. Los Angeles (1-2) looked tired while playing its second game in two nights.

?If you have Lisa Leslie out of the game as much as she was and [point guard] Nikki Teasley was 2-for-10, you have a chance to win the game,? Mystics coach Richie Adubato said. ?We played a good game until the last 21/2 minutes, but their veterans took over from there.?

Christi Thomas broke a 64-64 tie with 5:22 left on a pair of free throws ? the first of eight straight that propelled the visitors to a 72-65 lead.

The Mystics cut their deficit to 72-71 on back-to-back 3-pointers with 3:03 left before Holdsclaw converted two free throws after drawing the fifth foul on Milton-Jones.

A Mystics turnover led to Whitmore’s jumper off a feed by Holdsclaw that made it 76-71. Melvin cut the lead to three on a layup with 1:11 left. However, Milton-Jones was called for her sixth foul on the press, and Holdsclaw hit two more foul shots.

?That was costly because it fouled DeLisha out and gave them two free throws in a costly situation,? Adubato said of the touch foul on Milton-Jones.

The Mystics did everything right before intermission while taking a 40-36 lead, making 10 of 19 3s (52.6 percent) while shooting 44.1 percent overall. They also did not allow Los Angeles an offensive rebound and got Leslie in foul trouble.

Coco Miller (3-for-3 from behind the arc) and Koehn (3-for-5) both had nine points for the Mystics in the half.

Notes ? The previous WNBA record for 3-pointers in a game was 14 by Minnesota in 1999 and Sacramento in 2001. … New Mystics part-owner Sheila Johnson, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television, addressed the crowd before the game and sat courtside. …

Adubato is entertaining on the sideline. At one point before the Sparks inbounded the ball after the Mystics knocked it out of bounds, he said to official Bonita Spence, ?Give me a break ? she is only 5-foot-3,? referring to point guard Temeka Johnson. Spence started to explain, and Adubato replied, ?I’m only joking.? …

The Chicago WNBA franchise, which starts play next season, named former NBA star Dave Cowens as coach and general manager. The former Boston Celtics great previously coached the Charlotte Hornets and Golden State Warriors.

?I think it is good for the league,? said Adubato, who also coached in the NBA. ?Anytime you bring a person from the NBA, especially a player of his high caliber, top-50 player, who has experience coaching, I think it is very good for the league. He is high-profile, and it brings a lot of people in when you have a high-profile coach.?

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