7:00 PM ET, July 29, 2011
The Indiana Fever are back atop the Eastern Conference standings. The Washington Mystics remain in the conference cellar.Indiana goes for its third straight victory Friday night at the Verizon Center, where the slumping Mystics will try to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat to open their four-game homestand.After falling into second place Tuesday with Connecticut posting a 77-66 victory in Chicago, the Fever (12-6) regained a one-game lead in the East with Thursday's 69-58 road victory over the Sun, who had won four straight and all seven of their home games in 2011."When you look at the points, rebounds (48-39) and the bench (31 points), I think that was the difference in the game," coach Lin Dunn told the Fever's official website following her team's first game after the All-Star break. "(Jessica) Davenport comes in and gets big rebounds (10 with 10 points). At the end of the day, it was our defense. We came out with an enormous amount of energy."The Fever will try to improve to 3-0 in the second of back-to-backs with their third consecutive victory in Washington.Led by a season-high 21 points from reserve guard Shavonte Zellous, who played a season-high 30 minutes with starter Katie Douglas out with a lower back contusion, Indiana posted an 89-80 victory in Washington on June 21.Including the 2009 East semifinals, the Fever have won six of seven in the nation's capital.Douglas, who scored 15 points in Saturday's All-Star Game to help the East win 118-113, is averaging 14.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists. She could miss a second straight game after staying home Thursday with a fever."It's definitely going to be harder without Katie because we rely on her a lot, offensively and defensively," Tamika Catchings said Thursday after scoring a team-high 16 points. "I think anytime we have someone go down, someone else has to step up. I thought Shannon (Bobbitt) did a great job tonight (with career highs of 13 points and five steals)."Still, the Mystics (3-13) probably wouldn't mind if Douglas took more time to rest.Washington has dropped eight of nine following Thursday's 75-71 loss at New York. The Mystics led by seven in the final minute of the third quarter, but they were outscored 11-0 over the next 2:40."It's tough because it's another game we just kind of blew away," All-Star forward Crystal Langhorne said after scoring a team-best 18 points with nine rebounds. "We're in the game and we don't get back when we need to and we lose. ... We're playing well and we just break down. You can't win games playing like that."Langhorne was sidelined with back pain in a 68-57 loss in Indiana on July 9 when the Mystics were outscored 19-7 in the fourth quarter.