A great start to June has suddenly turned sour for the Washington Mystics.
The Mystics look to sweeten things up by avoiding a third consecutive loss while beginning a four-game road stretch Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Sparks.
Eyeing a return trip to the WNBA Finals, Washington (4-3) opened June with four consecutive victories by an average of 18 points. However, only one win during that run came against a squad that currently owns a winning record.
The Mystics' winning streak ended with an 83-75 loss at league-leading Connecticut last Tuesday before a 74-71 home defeat in a 2018 Finals rematch with Seattle on Friday. Elena Delle Donne scored 19 against the Storm, but Washington blew a 13-point fourth-quarter lead while being outscored 22-8 in the final period.
Only once last season did the Mystics lose three in a row.
"When you're making a run for a championship, you face adversity and things happen," guard Kristi Toliver said during a postgame Q&A as posted on the Mystics' official Twitter page. "It's a long season."
Following a general statement from guard Natasha Cloud, Washington players declined to speak with reporters about the contest after it ended Friday. It was a show of solidarity regarding their stance for proactivity and reform from District leaders after recent random shootings near a D.C. area school.
Now, the focus shifts to the road, where the Mystics are 1-2 and will play four times over an eight-day span. Washington's 2018 road to the Finals began with a 96-64 first-round playoff rout of Los Angeles. Delle Donne had 19 points with 12 rebounds, Cloud recorded 13 with seven assists and Toliver added 11 plus nine assists in that contest.
The Sparks (4-3) were also amid a solid stretch with two straight wins and victories in four of five before falling 98-92 at home to the suddenly surging Liberty on Saturday. Chiney Ogwumike had 26 points, her sister Nneka added 20 and Chelsea Gray scored 18 for Los Angeles, which shot 46.4 percent but couldn't keep the Liberty from making 47.1 percent of their shots, nine 3-pointers and going to the free-throw line 19 more times.
It was a frustrating result for L.A., especially after rolling to an 85-68 win a Phoenix one night earlier.
"(It's about) continuing to understand that every game is different," coach Derek Fisher said in his postgame news conference as posted on the Sparks' official Facebook page. "You can't come into a game assuming anything."
With star Candace Parker still out (hamstring), Gray continues to play well and has averaged 20 points in the last three games.