Elena Delle Donne had 15 points and 10 rebounds in her return from a bone bruise in her left knee and the Washington Mystics forced a decisive Game 5 with a 97-76 win over the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA semifinal series.
Delle Donne started, played 34 minutes, sank 3 of 5 three-point attempts and scored 11 points in the second half after sitting out Friday's 81-76 loss. She suffered the injury in the final minutes of Atlanta's 78-75 Game 2 victory.
The 2015 WNBA Most Valuable Player award winner sported a bulky brace on her left knee. She failed to score until less than four minutes remained in the first half, but her presence immediately helped open the floor for teammates.
Washington shot 50 percent from the field overall. Ariel Atkins scored 19 points, Natasha Cloud 13 and LaToya Sanders 10.
Kristi Toliver led the Mystics with 22 points as all five starters scored in double figures. Washington pulled away with a 28-10 run in the second half for its largest lead at 90-67 after Atlanta closed within five points.
Tiffany Hayes and Renee Montgomery each scored 12 points for the Dream.
The series shifts back to Atlanta for the finale of the best-of-5 series on Tuesday.
The teams split the first two games in Atlanta, though Washington held a double-digit lead in Game 2 before losing.
Delle Donne averaged 29.5 points and 13.5 rebounds in Atlanta. The Mystics have never reached the WNBA finals in the franchise's 21 seasons.
Atlanta remains one victory away from the franchise's fourth finals appearance and first since 2013. Brittney Sykes and Jessica Breland also scored 12 points.
The Mystics raced out to a 26-12 lead in the second quarter and entered halftime up 44-35. Toliver, who had only seven points on 3 of 15 shooting in Game 3 topped all scorers with 12 points in the first half.
Delle Donne's second of three 3-pointers stifled Atlanta's momentum after the Dream's 10-0 run cut Washington's lead to 62-57 with 2:04 left in the third.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.