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Delle Donne plays through nerves, leads Mystics past her former team

Washington Mystics starElena Delle Donne played against her former team for the first time on Wednesday when she led the Mystics to a victory over the Sky at Allstate Arena. (AP photo)

Elena Delle Donne walked into Allstate Arena, her WNBA home for the last four years, and promptly made her first trip into the visitors’ locker room.

The bizarre nature of the day certainly wasn’t lost on the former Sky star and 2015 league MVP.

Delle Donne, who faced her former team for the first time, had 21 points and eight rebounds to lead the Washington Mystics to an 82-67 win Wednesday.

Admittedly, Delle Donne found it impossible to treat it as just another game. After pregame warmups, she greeted her former teammates while trying to get past the nerves in her first game back in Chicago.

“I’m a human being, I’m aware of being back here, it being different, things that have been said,” Delle Donne said. “But the biggest thing is, I’m thrilled with where I am at and I’m really happy with [the Mystics]. I feel like we can really progress and it’s been a great road so far.”

While the Mystics picked up their first road victory, the Sky fell to 1-3. Delle Donne scored 13 of her game-high 21 points in the second half. She was one of four Mystics to score in double figures.

Afterward, she credited her teammates for helping her settle in on what was anything but a normal day.

Veteran Sky guard Allie Quigley said she didn’t cross paths with Delle Donne.

“I’ve been on so many teams that players leave,” Quigley said. “It’s just the reality of the situation. I’m sure it was more weird [for Delle Donne] than it was for us.”

Quigley, playing in her first game for the Sky since returning from playing in Turkey, scored 13 points along with Stefanie Dolson, who came to the Sky in the Delle Donne trade.

Cappie Pondexter led the Sky with 17 points and 10 assists.

Delle Donne is averaging 21.5 points for the Mystics — a team she set her sights on due to the close proximity it would put her and her family and specifically her older sister, Lizzie, who is stricken with autism and cerebral palsy.

Delle Donne said her move to Washington has brought plenty of happiness both professionally and personally, saying “it’s everything I was looking for.”

“Obviously there’s nerves,” Delle Donne said. “It’s weird being here and all the talk around it and just wanting to get this game under my belt, getting back here, getting through this game and getting a win. I’m just thrilled we were able to get through it.”

Delle Donne will face her former team again Friday in Washington.

Follow me on Twitter @JeffArnold_.

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