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Rhyne Howard lifts Dream over Mystics in battle for playoff seed

Rhyne Howard Atlanta Dream Rhyne Howard (10) - Getty Images

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rhyne Howard had 21 points and 12 rebounds, Allisha Gray and Danielle Robinson made clutch free throws in the closing seconds and the Atlanta Dream defeated the Washington Mystics 80-75 on Friday night.

The game helped determine playoff seeding. The loss locked Washington (18-21) into the seventh seed while Atlanta (19-20) still has a chance to move up.

Gray and Cheyenne Parker both scored 17 for the Dream, who are home against Dallas to close the regular season on Sunday.

Brittney Sykes had a career-high 27 points for the Mystics, who finish at second-place New York. Elena Delle Donne had 13 and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough had 11. Natasha Cloud had a career-high and franchise record 15 assists.

Atlanta opened the fourth quarter with a 12-0 run for a 73-60 lead, its biggest of the game. Gray started it with a jumper and a 3-pointer.

Walker-Kimbrough and Cloud had consecutive 3s to pull Washington to 75-68 with 5:44 left and Sykes made it 76-75 with 20.3 to go.

Gray and Robinson then made free throws in the final seconds.

The Dream led 42-35 at the half and by as many as 11 in the third quarter but Sykes scored 15 in the third to cut the deficit to 61-60 entering the fourth.