Elena Delle Donne makes triumphant return in Mystics win

(Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)

Elena Delle Donne didn’t skip a beat in her first WNBA game since last Aug. 26, helping the Washington Mystics to an 84-70 victory over the Indiana Fever.

Delle Donne contributed a game-high 21 points, adding nine rebounds and three assists. After missing the majority of the past two seasons with back issues, it was the first season opener she has played since 2018.

“My shot looked like it had nerves,” Delle Donne said. “I was struggling a little bit to get in the flow and to trust in my legs. So I guess I might call that a little bit of nerves, or it’s been a while. But I was able to play my way into it.”

The former MVP shot 50 percent through 30 minutes, going 8-of-16. She isn’t going to play Sunday at Minnesota in an effort to ease her back into playing.

“The game kind of just comes to you,” she continued. “This is a fun, exploratory season for me being back out there.

“Obviously, I want to be in every single game, but I also know the importance of having the proper rest and return-to-play protocol. We learned from last season: I don’t need to go game-game-game. I need to space it out a little and see how I continue to respond.”

Natasha Cloud had 17 points while Ariel Atkins added 15 in the win.

Kelsey Mitchell led the Fever with 18 points, three rebounds and three assists. In her first regular season WNBA game, rookie NaLyssa Smith had 13 points and 13 rebounds for a double-double while fellow rookie Queen Egbo had 10 points and six rebounds through 20 minutes.

The Fever will look to get their first win on Sunday against the Los Angeles Sparks.