- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 9, 2006

It’s the time of year when many workers take a break from their jobs for a little R&R.; Washington Mystics coach Richie Adubato was worried before last night’s game against the San Antonio Silver Stars that his team might be in that mind-set as well.

After all, it appeared the Mystics had nothing to play for. They already had clinched the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference as they head into the final week of the regular season.

“It’s a coach’s nightmare,” Adubato said. “You can’t go up and you can’t go down. Because of that, your team can start to take a vacation both mentally and physically.”

But Adubato had nothing to worry about. The Mystics cruised to a 91-79 win before 7,089 at Verizon Center. Washington (17-15) broke a two-game losing streak and can clinch only the second winning season in its nine-year history with one win in the season’s final two games. The franchise’s lone winning campaign came in 2002, when Washington went 17-15.

The Mystics can set a record for wins with a win at home Saturday against Detroit or in the season finale Sunday at New York.

Washington will meet the East’s top seed Connecticut in a best-of-three playoff series starting Aug. 18 at Verizon Center. Games 2 and 3, if necessary, will be at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Alana Beard led the Mystics last night with 22 points while teammate Chasity Melvin added 18 points and 11 rebounds. All five Mystics starters scored in double digits. Guard Nikki Teasley posted 14 points and 11 assists. DeLisha Milton-Jones added 12 points while Coco Miller, starting for injured Crystal Robinson, contributed 10.

The Mystics had 25 assists and shot 57.6 percent from the field on the night.

“We are really good when we are playing like this,” said Melvin, who shot 6-for-7 from the field. “When I first came here [in 2004 from defunct Cleveland], it was an adjustment to being on a losing team. They kind of got used to it. To me, it was goal to help turn that around.”

Meanwhile, the Silver Stars (12-20) lost their sixth straight game They will miss the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.

The Mystics took control late in the second quarter and held a 47-36 lead at halftime. Washington did it with the long ball, shooting 7-for-10 from 3-point range in the half. Beard and Teasley each made both of their attempts and Milton-Jones hit two of three attempts.

“They made the extra pass,” Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said. “They spread the floor well and found the spots to make open 3s. They weren’t really contested. … They are an intelligent team at all positions.”

Notes — Robinson, who missed her fourth game with a sprained left ankle, could be available for Sunday’s regular-season finale … Washington reserve forward Latasha Byears was out with foot tendinitis.

Sting 68, Comets 57

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Sheri Sam had 13 points and 11 rebounds to help Charlotte beat Houston, spoiling Dawn Staley’s final game in the city where she played nearly seven seasons.

Storm 81, Shock 79

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Lauren Jackson’s driving layup with 10 seconds left helped Seattle beat Detroit and avoid blowing a 25-point lead.

Fever 77, Liberty 44

NEW YORK — Tamika Whitmore scored 14 points — all in the first half — and Anna DeForge had 13 to lead Indiana over New York.

Sun 85, Sky 59

CHICAGO — Katie Douglas scored 19 points before leaving in the third quarter with an apparent leg injury as Connecticut beat Chicago to extend its franchise-best winning streak to 11 games.

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