Finally healthy and playing with some confidence, the defending WNBA champions appear to be regaining their elite form.
Although injuries derailed them during a 1-7 start, the Fever (6-8) have been resilient by turning things around with five wins in six games since. They've shown tremendous improvement on the offensive end, averaging 73.7 points during their surge after scoring 60.5 per game in their previous four.
The Fever, though, overcame 33.8 percent shooting from the field by going 22 for 23 from the free-throw line in a 77-70 home win over Washington on Friday.
Indiana's starting five from the 2012 finals - Erin Phillips, Briann January, Shavonte Zellous, Tamika Catchings and Erlana Larkins - played together for only the third time this season. The Fever, though are still without star guard Katie Douglas, who has been out since May 31 with a bulging disk in her back.
Zellous, who has scored in double figures in every game, led the way with 16 points against the Mystics,against whom Indiana has won four of the last five. She also had a team-high 17 in a 64-60 loss at Washington on June 16.
Catchings had 16 points on 7-of-15 shooting in that meeting, but she'll be trying to break out of her recent slump in this contest. The forward, averaging 16.3 points, has scored 9.0 per game on 10-of-34 shooting in her last three.
"The WNBA's not a marathon like the NBA," said Indiana coach Lin Dunn, whose team has a chance to move into a virtual third-place tie with the Mystics (8-8). "It's a sprint. Every game is so important. There's really no game that's more important than another."
"But this is a team that we're chasing, they're right above us," she added. "But we're chasing everybody."
Following a season-worst, five-game skid, Washington had won four of five before Friday's defeat. Now the Mystics are hoping to bounce back with their fourth straight home victory.
The Mystics have been much tougher defensively at home, allowing an average of 61.3 points during their winning streak there. They've given up 84.3 per game in their last seven on the road.
After leading Washington with 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting in last month's home win, Ivory Latta had a team-best 16 despite missing 7-of-10 shots on Friday.
The Mystics will attempt to limit their miscues after committing 22 turnovers in Indiana. The Fever, who have forced 22 turnovers in each of their last two games, also had 16 offensive rebounds en route to a 36-34 edge overall on the glass.
"The difference was in turnovers and rebounds," Washington coach Mike Thibault said.
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