Elena Delle Donne exits after fighting for rebound, with Washington Mystics calling removal 'precautionary'

WASHINGTON -- Mystics star Elena Delle Donne was pulled after just 12 minutes of play Thursday night because of "precautionary" reasons, coach Mike Thibault said after his team's 82-77 loss to the Dallas Wings.

Delle Donne had just returned to the court Sunday in what was her first game since October 2019. The 2019 WNBA MVP had a pair of back surgeries and was sidelined for 22 months.

"She was taken out kind of precautionary. On that play under the basket where she got a couple of attempts, just didn't feel right to her, took her out," Thibault said. "We're at that point right now we're not risking anything. We'll see what she's like tomorrow."

Thibault offered no additional details, and Delle Donne did not speak to reporters after the game.

The play in question occurred at the beginning of the second quarter when Delle Donne was fighting to secure a rebound of her own missed shot.

On Sunday, she finished with 16 points on 5-for-11 shooting with three rebounds in 22 minutes. She told reporters afterward she felt good and said the same after Tuesday's game, when she finished with 18 points on 5-for-9 shooting with five rebounds in 18 minutes.

Thursday's loss dropped the Mystics to 9-14, and they remain 10th in the standings and fighting for a playoff spot. They host the Wings again Saturday.

Washington also is without center Tina Charles, who will miss the next four to five games because of a left glute strain. Charles, who leads the WNBA in scoring at 25.4 points per game, suffered the injury Sunday in an 85-78 loss to Seattle.