Sky drop third straight after another slow start

WASHINGTON — What do you get when the last-place team in the WNBA squares off against one of the worst first-quarter teams in the league?

An ugly nail-biter complete with sloppy late-game fouls and too many missed free throws by the Sky, including two from guard Marina Mabrey with 0.2 seconds left and an opportunity to tie the score.

But the Sky’s 83-81 loss Friday to the Mystics wasn’t decided by Mabrey’s missed free throws. The defeat was the result of yet another poor start, which coach Teresa Weatherspoon emphasized before the game was something the Sky needed to improve.

‘‘We’re on a win streak! We’re on a win streak!’’ Mystics players could be heard yelling as they walked by the media room after the game.

The Sky, meanwhile, are on a three-game skid, their worst of the season.

The Sky (4-8) found themselves in familiar territory Friday, fighting back from an early deficit after the Mystics opened the game with a 9-0 run. It was the Sky’s worst start of the season, which begged the question: Is it time to deploy a different starting five?

‘‘I’m not thinking of that,’’ Weatherspoon said. ‘‘I’m thinking about going and winning games.’’

When asked whether she would use the next three games — against two more of the WNBA’s bottom three teams — as a measuring stick to assess whether change is necessary, Weatherspoon walked out of the news conference.

The Sky entered the game 11th in the 12-team league in points scored in the first quarter, averaging 19.2. The Mystics outscored them 24-10 in the first 10 minutes.

The Mystics’ Ariel Atkins scored a game-high 29 points, shooting 9-for-13 from the field. Rookie teammate Aliyah Edwards added 16 points and nine rebounds and Karlie Samuelson 12 points before leaving the game late with an apparent injury to her hand or lower arm.

The Sky’s inability to recover from deficits this season has been compounded by the fact that they are one of the worst three-point-shooting teams in the league. They also are last in the league in three-point attempts.

Against the Mystics, they shot 30.8% from three-point range but only took 13 shots from behind the arc. The Mystics, meanwhile, went 8-for-30.

‘‘Get catch-and-shoot threes, trust each other, get in the paint, make the extra pass [and] make the right, winning play,’’ point guard Dana Evans said. ‘‘That’s what it comes down to.’’

Evans led the Sky with 14 points through three quarters. But after playing less than two minutes of the fourth, she was pulled.

Weatherspoon closed the game with Lindsay Allen, Chennedy Carter, Mabrey, Angel Reese and Kamilla Cardoso on the court. After the game, Evans said she was ‘‘fine’’ when she was asked whether her limited minutes late were the result of an injury.

Carter ended up with 16 points, six rebounds and two assists to lead the Sky. Reese had her fifth consecutive double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds.

‘‘You don’t stop the momentum,’’ Weatherspoon said when she was asked about her decision to leave Evans on the bench late. ‘‘You guys have to understand, I don’t play mind games. So whatever the flow of the game is, that’s what’s flowing.’’

Weatherspoon’s closing lineup ended the game on a 20-7 run, once again raising the question about whether a lineup change is in order.

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