The Atlanta Dream's struggles continued on Sunday as they dropped their fourth straight game losing to the Washington Mystics 77-67. Atlanta's once comfortable lead in the Eastern Conference is suddenly down to just three full games.
Atlanta's slide has been a result of lapses at both ends of the floor but they are having increasing difficulty scoring the basketball. Atlanta shot just 37 percent for the game and were just 2-14 from three-point range. Washington made 9 of their first 16 shots and led 22-14 at the end of the first. Atlanta bounced back in the second quarter as Sancho Lyttle scored seven of her team-high 19 points and the Dream cut the Mystics' lead to 39-38 at the half.
Atlanta did their best to stay in the game in the second half but Washington was able to keep them at arms length thanks to some nice shooting from beyond-the-arc. They Mystics went 4-9 from deep in the second half and finished 7-15 for the game. Ivory Latta knocked down 3-8 from three-point range on her way to a game-high 21 points.
Lyttle added eight rebounds to go with her 19 points and was 9-20 from the field. Angel McCoughtry and Tiffany Hayes finished with 12 points each. It was the second straight tough shooting game for McCoughtry who finished just 5-17 and at times took it upon herself to try and snap the Dream out of their offensive funk. Erika de Souza had another quiet game finishing with six points and seven rebounds on just 2-4 shooting.
Latta finished 7-13 from the field and also recorded a team-high six assists. Kara Lawson added 14 points off the bench including two threes. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt added 13 while Monique Curry netted 12 and did an outstanding job harassing McCoughtry defensively.
For Atlanta there is no relief in site as they return home to face the Connecticut Sun before playing five of their next six on the road including three out west. The situation isn't dire yet and in many ways the Dream are fighting themselves while they search for answers on the court. Their inability to make an outside shot has allowed teams to crowd the paint and take away De Souza from the offense. They are often on the floor trying to think their way out of their slump instead of just playing and letting their natural ability take over.
Its not an easy situation to shake as each mistake seems to be amplified and lead directly to more miscues. Still this Atlanta team is much too talented to struggle for long but its time for a leader to step up and get everyone back on the same page and headed in the right direction.