The Atlanta Dream began their four-game road trip without their starting center and their head coach but came up just short in a 75-67 loss to the Phoenix Mercury.
Erika de Souza missed the game due to an illness and her status for Thursday's game in Seattle is uncertain. Michael Cooper also did not make the trip with assistant Karleen Thompson filling in again on the sidelines. Thompson told the media on Sunday that Cooper would be on the trip but that wasn't the case Tuesday night.
Despite the absences, the Dream got off to a good start scoring the first seven points of the game before the Mercury closed the first quarter with a big run to take a 23-15 lead. Phoenix continued to pour it on in the second quarter behind 10 points from Candice Dupree and would take a 41-29 lead into the half.
The third quarter hasn't been kind to the Dream often this season but they rallied from a 12 point deficit by outscoring the Mercury 22-6 in the period to take a 51-47 lead. Phoenix missed 11 of their 14 field goal attempts in the period and the Dream did an excellent job holding them to one shot with a 15-5 rebounding advantage in the quarter. The six points scored by the Mercury in the third were a season-low for the team.
The Mercury would come roaring back in the fourth as Atlanta's offense once again failed to produce. Diana Taurasi scored nine of her 14 points in the fourth quarter as Phoenix outscored the Dream 28-16 over the final 10 minutes to seal the victory.
Angel McCoughtry led the Dream with 19 points on 7-16 shooting. Shoni Schimmel added 13 points and five assists off the bench while Tiffany Hayes scored all 12 of her points in the second half. Atlanta shot just 34 percent for the game but were able to stay in the game thanks to a 41-35 rebounding edge that included 16 offensive boards.
Dupree led the Mercury with 16 points. Brittney Griner put up a dominating performance inside with 14 points, nine rebounds and nine blocked shots. Taurasi finished with 14 points and four assists while Penny Taylor added 13 and a game-high eight assists.
The loss is the second straight for Atlanta who have lost six of eight. They have a 3.5 game lead over second place Washington with six games left to play. The schedule doesn't let up for the Dream who are in Seattle on Thursday and then in Los Angeles on Friday. They wrap up the road trip on Sunday in Chicago.