Elena Delle Donne grits through knee injury for Mystics win

Brian Tinsman
September 02, 2018 - 11:47 pm
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Michael Zamora/The Register via USA TODAY NETWORK

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A quick glance at the box score would reveal a rather pedestrian night for the Washington Mystics' Elena Delle Donne, who scored just 15 points with 10 rebounds in 34 minutes vs. the Atlanta Dream on Sunday night.

But what no box score can capture is they Delle Donne sported a bulky knee brace to protect the bone bruise in her knee that kept her out since the middle of Game 2 of this playoff series.

A box score will show that Delle Donne, the 2015 WNBA MVP, did not score until four minutes remained in the first half of the critical Game 4 contest, but not the opportunities that her teammates received with her back on the floor.

Her immediate and decisive impact was noted on the scoreboard, where the Mystics built a commanding 26-12 lead. So too, was the confidence she brought to her teammates.

"She just gives everybody else around her confidence that we kind of got this, that we have the best player in the game on the court," Mystics’ coach and general manager Mike Thibault told the media after the game. "And that helps a lot mentally.”

Point guard Natasha Cloud was a bit more direct: "That’s our leader on the court. That’s our MVP. That’s my MVP."

Fellow point guard Kristi Toliver led all Mystics in points (22), but gave all credit to Delle Donne: "We got our Superwoman back."

Perhaps most remarkable is that Delle Donne played the second-most minutes of anyone on the floor, glaring at her coach any time he lined up subs to come in. With the playoff series on the line, she was well enough to play through anything.

"I would’ve killed Coach if he didn’t let me play full out," she said, probably kidding. "He knows. I gave him the look, and he knew that I was fully ready to go and wanted to be in there as much as I possibly could.

"My team carried me most of the way and then, luckily, I was able to get a little bit going in the second half."

Mystics-Dream play a decisive Game 5 on Thursday for the Eastern Conference title.

 

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