The Atlanta Dream saw their six-game winning streak at home end Tuesday night with a 77-70 loss to the Indiana Fever. Atlanta loses for just the second time at home this season with both defeats coming to the Fever.
Like all of the previous matches, this game was another grind it out affair with neither team's offense able to get fully on track. Atlanta shot just 37 percent for the game while Indiana was even worse at 35 percent. Atlanta overcame a nine-point deficit late in the fourth quarter to make things interesting. Initially it looked like they got the stop that they needed when Sydney Carter was whistled for a charge against Tiffany Hayes with 57.5 remaining. The officials went to the replay and later determined that Hayes heel was in the restricted area and reversed the call. The result was a three-point play for the Fever and a 74-70 lead that they would not relinquish.
Turnovers were once again a problem for the Dream as they coughed it up 15 times leading to 24 points for the Fever. Atlanta's inability to make a jump shot played right into Indiana's defensive game plan. The Dream finished 0-13 from three-point range, however that was something head coach Michael Cooper dismissed during his post game press conference.
"Our team is not built around 3-point shooting . . . we're an inside team," Atlanta coach Michael Cooper said after his team had a 42-28 edge on inside scoring. "Championships are won in the paint, and I thought we did that tonight. I just thought we came up short on the free throws. "Toward the end, we executed defensively as well as offensively, and that got us within reach until the replay."
Cooper has a point, Atlanta was just 20-32 from the free throw line while Indiana was 27-30. Still Atlanta's struggles from the perimeter are concerning as it permits big teams like Indiana to crowd the paint and make things difficult the Dream's interior players. Atlanta was able to hang around in the game thanks to a 39-34 rebounding edge and a 19-0 advantage in second chance points.
Karima Christmas gave the Fever a lift with 18 points off the bench. Carter, Shavonte Zellous and Marissa Coleman all finished with 11 points each.
Erika de Souza led all scorers with 23 points and eight rebounds. Angel McCoughtry finished with 17 points but was just 6-18 from the field. No other Dream player finished with more than Aneika Henry's seven points off the bench. Atlanta's starting backcourt of Jasmine Thomas and Tiffany Hayes were limited to a combined five points on 1-11 shooting.
Despite the loss, Atlanta still maintains a three-game lead over second place Chicago in the Eastern Conference standings. The Dream are back in action on Saturday when they take on the Washington Mystics.