NEW YORK — Mike Thibault preached patience to his team and its fans after making a huge offseason splash by trading for Elena Delle Donne and signing Kristi Toliver.
So far so good for the Mystics, who are 5-2 and have the second best record in the WNBA.
“We have great moments, and then we have some bad moments,” Delle Donne said after Sunday’s win over Atlanta. “But it’s early in the season, and it’s kind of expected. We’re a brand new team, and we’re all trying to figure one another out. Obviously I hope to see us improve each game and get better and better, but until then, we just have to continue to be really good on defense.”
Washington, which moved up to fourth in The Associated Press WNBA power poll this week, has been integrating six new players to its roster this season. They are just starting to get more comfortable with each other on offense.
“We want to put four quarters together, like we said this whole season is going to be a process,” Toliver said. “I think we’re starting to see glimpses of what can be for this team … It’s good to know when we’re not shooting the ball well we can grind out wins.”
Surprisingly the Mystics are shooting a league-worst 40.3 percent from the field.
POWER POLL: Unbeaten Minnesota moves into the top spot, while Washington moved into the No. 4 spot. A look at this week’s WNBA poll.
1. Minnesota (7-0): The Lynx turned a potential challenge into another rout with a 23-point win in Seattle . They have two more road games this week at Washington and Dallas
2. Seattle (4-2): The Storm have a busy week ahead with games in San Antonio, Indiana and New York.
3. Los Angeles (3-2): The Sparks won their lone game last week, routing New York. They host Chicago before a back-to-back trip to Dallas and Phoenix.
4. Washington (5-2): While the Mystics are still trying to get more comfortable with each other, they are finding ways to win.
5. Atlanta (4-2): The Dream rallied from an 18-point deficit in the third quarter just to fall short against Washington . They continue their trip up the east coast with games in New York and Connecticut.
6. New York (4-3): Kiah Stokes and Shavonte Zellous have picked up the slack with Epiphanny Prince and Kia Vaughn playing in the EuroBasket. They’ll need to keep it going for New York to remain among the elite.
7. Phoenix (4-3): Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi are doing their best to carry the team offensively. The Mercury need to find a little more help to pull out more wins.
8. Dallas (3-4): The Wings lost a tough back-to-back at New York and Indiana falling in close contests to both teams. The good news is they return home for a pair of games this week.
9. Indiana (3-4): Candice Dupree is fitting in well with the Fever, who are still trying to find an identity in the post Tamika Catchings’ era.
10. Connecticut (2-5): The Sun have been on the road for 17 of the past 19 days thanks to a brutal early season schedule. They’ll reacquaint themselves with the Nutmeg state for a few days playing Atlanta on Saturday.
11. Chicago (1-6): A road trip might be just what the Sky need to clear their heads and get some wins. A trip to Los Angeles and San Antonio await.
12. San Antonio (0-7): The good news is that Kelsey Plum made her first start of the season and had eight points and seven assists. The bad news is the Stars are still looking for their first win.
GAME OF THE WEEK: Lynx at Mystics, Friday. In the old days this would be a showdown between the teams with the best record in the Eastern and Western conferences. Now it’s just a matchup of the squads with the best records.
RECORD-SETTING TAURASI: Diana Taurasi breezed past Katie Smith on Thursday to become the league’s all-time leading 3-point shooter . The two got to share a few laughs on Sunday at Madison Square Garden before the Mercury lost to the Liberty, where Smith is an assistant coach now.
“Katie’s one of those players that I looked up to growing up,” Taurasi said. “When they had posters and actual photos in magazines, Katie was one you’d cut out and put on your wall and you’d hope you’d be as good as her one day. … These records only become special because of people like Katie because she did it at such a high level. “
PLAYER IN WAITING: Australian center Liz Cambage vacationed in Dallas and New York this past week and spent some time with the Wings , who still own her WNBA rights. Cambage last played in the WNBA in 2013 and contemplating on whether to return to the league. She also spoke with Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello, who will lead the Australia national team for the next four years.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Elena Delle Donne, Mystics. Delle Donne averaged 18 points, 13.5 rebounds 2.5 blocks to help Washington win both its game this week. She had a career-high 15 rebounds and scored the last seven points of the game from the foul line on Sunday to beat Atlanta. Earlier in the week, she had a three-point play with 44 seconds left to help beat Connecticut. Other players who received votes included Tina Charles, Sylvia Fowles, Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi.
To see the poll online and how the pollster voted: http://collegebasketball.ap.org/ap-wnba-power-poll-week-4
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