Postgame Notes & Quotes: Mystics Advance To Semifinals Behind EDD’s Double-Double

SPARKS NOTES:

– The Sparks shot 33.3% in the first quarter

– The Sparks shot 33.3% in the first half

– The Sparks shot 33.9% after three quarters

– The Sparks shot just 34.3% for the game, their worst shooting performance of 2018

– The Sparks shot 1-for-9 on 3-pointers in the first half (11.1%)

– Candace Parker scored 13 first half points – Candace Parker led the Sparks with 16 points

– Candace Parker passed Temeka Johnson for 17th all-time in playoff assists

– Nneka Ogwumike passed Lauren Jackson for 18th all-time in playoff rebounds

– Alana Beard passed Tangela Smith for 20th all time in playoff steals

MYSTICS NOTES:

– The Mystics shot 58.8% in the first quarter

– The Mystics shot 52.9% in the first half – The Mystics shot 57.4% after three quarters

– The Mystics shot 56.9% for the game

– The Mystics shot 5-for-12 on 3-pointers in the first half

– The Mystics shot 9-for-23 on 3-pointers (39.1%)

– Elena Delle Donne scored 13 first half points – Tianna Hawkins scored 10 first half points

– The Mystics had six players in double figures (Atkins, Delle Donne, Sanders, Toliver, Cloud, Hawkins)

– Delle Donne led all scorers with 19 points and 12 rebounds

SPARKS QUOTES:

SPARKS HEAD COACH BRIAN AGLER

On tonight’s game: 

“Our mentality is that we play the hand that we’re dealt so you don’t have any excuses. My hats off to Washington. They played really well. Played well. Made the right plays offensively. Found open people. Hit shots. Made it difficult for us at our offensive end so they were the better team today. There’s no question about that. I just want to wish them the best of luck but from our standpoint, this wasn’t a great showing for us. We know we can play better and it just didn’t happen tonight.”

 

On playing against Elena Delle Donne: 

“There’s a lot of things that didn’t go our way tonight.  I thought our intent was good. I know that we really wanted to play well. We felt like we were familiar with what they were going to do but we just couldn’t get places as quickly as we wanted. Offensively, we weren’t moving the ball we weren’t moving their defense like I thought we could have. With that being said, when you play against a player like Elena, you have to do a great job with her, whoever’s matching up with her, like in Nneka (Ogwumike). At the same time, because they’re going to put her in different actions, it’s going to take multiple people to be a part of that. Our focus went there a lot but that means we had to leave other people open. And they found them.”

 

SPARKS CENTER CANDACE PARKER

On tonight’s game and shots not falling:

“It is more than that. We scored like 60 points in a playoff game. Defensively, when we were not getting stops, it had a lot to do with the way we were playing on offense because we were not able to ever get our defense set. When you are playing like this and you are going backwards, it is a downward slope. You are not going to have quality shots.”

On whether she sees any positives going forward:

“For me, we have sat up here, one time as a champion and the other six together going out like this so for me I think it just validates how much I love my teammate on my right [Nneka Ogwumike] and my teammates just in general. You learn a lot about people when things do not go your way and what you do with that information is the next season. Chelsea Gray, we can talk about her all day how much she grew leaps and bounds this year. She has to take that into next year and make us better and both of us just continue to learn this game. This game is changing. This game is changing. I mean it’s quicker, it’s faster, it’s positionless. It’s different teams with different talent not able to do the same thing we did before. So I think those are our takeaways. My drive is just my teammates. I love them. I care about them. We spend a lot of time together so I’m excited for that. But I’m ready to get some rest. I’m tired as hell. I can say it now.”

SPARKS FORWARD NNEKA OGWUMIKE

On the state of the league:

“This league is becoming even. The talent is everywhere. There is competition everywhere. Every single game matters and I think the we fought through some tough times in our season. I think that like Candace [Parker] said, you can learn from the season as a whole from this game as a whole but you really have to take care of business in the beginning, you have to. That is what D.C. did. That is why they are going on.”

On her thoughts of the Washington Mystics:

“D.C, they have really figured out their team, they figured out their players. They are not just playing well, they put people in good positions. People thrive because they have the chemistry and they know what people are good at and what people like to do. That makes it tough. That makes it really tough. I just feel like they are playing stress free. That is kind of what it seems like. They are playing stress free.”

 

MYSTICS QUOTES:

MYSTICS HEAD COACH MIKE THIBAULT

On the game:

Obviously, we did a lot of things really well. We wanted to keep the pace of the game up. They like to play a lot slower; they like lower possession games. And then, you know, we preach all the time about there are three things we need to win playoff games. That’s turnovers, free throw difference, and rebounding, and we did all of those tonight besides shooting the ball well. I think it’s a franchise [playoff] high in assists, we got 28. So, we did just about everything that we hoped. As a coach, you worry all day about this and that, and late game plays, but we didn’t have to worry about that tonight. It’s a great win. The next step is in front of us. I think this is one of the harder games of the playoffs. This system makes it very tough. In college, this would be like an Elite 8 game. Now we have a couple days to get organized, get some rest tomorrow, and get prepared for Atlanta. They had a heck of a season and we’ll be ready.”

On what the focus is moving into the next round after tonight’s performance:

“We did most things pretty well tonight. I would just say do them all again, that would be the simplest thing. I think they got us the one little bit just with their trap and we had a big lead at the time. That’s just kind of their last desperation mode and if you don’t face it every day, it’s not the same and you can’t duplicate it as well in practice. But I thought after the first couple kind of mediocre possessions, we did a good job handling it after that and moved the basketball and made them have to chase us a little bit. I think the biggest thing, is that when you move on, you have a different kind of team, you have different personnel. I think the first thing that you have to do is lock into the kind of team you’re playing and the kind of individuals. In this game, you have to try to take away certain things and the next series will be a little different. You have a team that has a lot of guards right now in Atlanta who are all playing really well. They’re shooting the ball well so the game might be a little bit more perimeter-oriented in some ways than it is in the post. They have good post players, but it’s different. Every style of team is different.”

MYSTICS FORWARD ELENA DELLE DONNE

On what was the key in tonight’s game:

“I think it was just trusting the next pass and trusting one another. Not having to force any situation and just knowing if we continued to move the ball, they were going to break down at some point. We built a great culture here. Our trust with one another has grown this entire season on defense and offense and tonight it all kind of just came together.”

On Washington’s defense:

“They’re a long, athletic team. We knew that we had to try to get stops so we have to get the rebound or it doesn’t really matter how great your defense is. We knew the importance of just kind of gang-rebounding and finishing off the defensive play so we could get out and run on offense.”

On LaToya Sanders:

“LaToya makes my life so easy. She does it all. She always has to defend the best big. She’s all over the boards. She’s so efficient on offense where players like us, we get high touches and we get to shoot a lot. LaToya doesn’t get as many touches, but when she does, she knocks them down and she’s super efficient. She’s been so big for us this entire season.”

 

MYSTICS GUARD KRISTI TOLIVER

On their meeting after the All-Star break that got them going:

“That’s it. That’s the meeting. Take pride in your defense. We talked specifically about four things we were going to do, and we have done them, and we have only lost one game in the process. I think we stick to that. We kind of make a commitment to one another and we do that, and we put ourselves in a good position.”

On LA being fatigued from having to travel:

“That is the beast of the WNBA. It is a quick season, has quick turnaround, and the way that this playoff format is does not help and I know Brian [Agler] pretty well, and I know he is not about excuses. They showed up, they were going to play and gave it their all, and I think we were just really good tonight.”