Elena Delle Donne Leads Mystics Past Dream

Elena Delle Donne Leads Mystics Past Dream

The Washington Mystics decided to keep Elena Delle Donne in the post and see how the Atlanta Dream would adjust.

It worked so well that the Mystics might just stay with the same approach throughout the W.N.B.A. semifinal series.

“My teammates have trust in me in those situations to attack and try to make the right read,” Delle Donne said. “I was flowing today, so they kind of just ran the offense through me. I just had to make reads or attack.”

Delle Donne had 32 points and 13 rebounds, Ariel Atkins added 15 points, and the Mystics beat the Dream, 87-84, in Atlanta on Sunday in the first game of the best-of-five series.

The Mystics hit all 20 of their free-throw attempts.

Elizabeth Williams finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds for Atlanta, which never led.

“It wasn’t pretty,” Mystics guard Natasha Cloud said after scoring 13 points with a game-high 6 assists. “It was an ugly game, but we came out with a win.”

In a matchup of two of the league’s hottest teams, Delle Donne was too much for Atlanta, using her size and agility to win matchups inside for layups, bank shots and forced turnovers.

Delle Donne, who finished third in the league’s most valuable player voting, was 10 for 22 from the field, hit all 10 of her free-throw attempts and grabbed seven offensive rebounds.

STORM 91, MERCURY 87 Breanna Stewart, the league’s most valuable player, scored 19 of her 28 points in the first half, and Jewell Loyd added 23 — including host Seattle’s final 7 points, as the Storm held on to beat Phoenix in Game 1 of their semifinal series.

After posting the best record in the league during the regular season, Seattle got a week of rest before opening the semifinals at home. For the most part, there was no rust from the long layoff, but Phoenix made the final minutes uncomfortable after cutting a 16-point deficit to 2.

Loyd came up with two clutch baskets, including a 15-footer that beat the shot clock with a minute left and pushed Seattle’s lead to 4.

“Anyone can score, anyone can get it going, and tonight you had a glimpse of everyone stepping up and getting it going for us,” Loyd said.

DeWanna Bonner led Phoenix with 27 points and 13 rebounds, and Diana Taurasi added 25 points. But the third of Phoenix’s three big stars, Brittney Griner, was held to 13 points and battled foul trouble throughout.

Natasha Howard added 20 points, and Sue Bird had 10 points and 10 assists for Seattle. The Storm finished with 13 3-pointers, 10 of them in the first half.

Taurasi became the W.N.B.A.’s career leader in playoff scoring, passing Tamika Catchings. Taurasi had needed just 8 points entering the game.