The Washington Mystics are on pace to finish the season with the worst record in the WNBA. They have lost 27 of 32 games. At this point, they have the best chance of winning the top selection in the league's draft lottery this month.
The Mystics are currently on an 11-game losing streak, and their path to the finish line doesn't get any easier with many key players fighting injuries, including leading scorer Crystal Langhorne. "It [stinks] to see them go down at the end of the season," guard Jasmine Thomas said of her injured teammates. "They fought so hard all year long to go out at the end like that, but it gives some people some opportunities to come in and contribute to the team."
Langhorne's left knee injury has slowed her down in recent games, and she left Friday's 82-74 loss to the Atlanta Dream with a strained left foot in the second quarter. The front court void was filled by veteran Michelle Snow, who finished with eight points in 21 minutes off the bench.
Guard Noelle Quinn (a part-time starter this season) sat out Friday's game with a bruised shoulder, and center Ashley Robinson (calf) and guard Matee Ajavon (ankle) have also missed some practice time over the last week.
With Quinn sidelined and Monique Currie in foul trouble against the Dream, rookie guard Natalie Novosel found herself in the rotation and played 11 minutes, most of which were logged in the second half with the Mystics trying to hold on to a slim lead.
"This season has been disappointing," Currie said, "but I think we're going to finish, and right now, players can really show what they can do."
The New York Liberty (14-17) is battling the Chicago Sky (12-18) for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. The Liberty have beaten the Mystics in four of their five games this season.
Meanwhile, the Mystics (5-27) will need to win their final two games to catch Tulsa or Phoenix (both 7-23) to avoid the league's worst record. Baylor's Brittney Griner, who won the 2011 National Player of the Year Award, is the likely prize for winning the draft lottery, which will be held in Bristol, Conn., on Sept. 26.