The Atlanta Dream saw a 10 point third quarter lead wither away in a rash of turnovers and poor execution as they fall to 0-2 on the season after a 75-70 loss to the Connecticut Sun in their home opener at Philips Arena.
To say Atlanta has been out of sync so far this season would be putting it mildly. They turned in an outstanding performance on the boards out rebounding the Sun by a 51-25 margin. Atlanta recorded 26 second chance points for the game however, that fine effort was undone by 25 turnovers that led to 31 points for Connecticut.
The Dream got off to a good enough start shooting 46 percent from the field in the opening quarter while building a 20-16 lead. They extended that to 12 in the second before a lull right before the half narrowed the gap to 42-37 at the break.
The second half was a dumpster fire for Atlanta offensively as they managed to score just 28 points on 28 percent shooting from the field. Connecticut wasn't much better but a hot half from Chelsea Gray off the bench, who scored all 14 of her points after halftime, proved to the be the difference.
Atlanta would threaten again late. Angel McCoughtry headed to the bench with 3:38 remaining and the Dream trailing 70-59. She was replaced in the lineup by reserve Matee Ajavon who quickly ignited an Atlanta comeback.
Ajavon scored five points as part of a 9-0 Dream run to cut the score to 70-68 with 1:14 remaining. Shoni Schimmel missed a three-pointer with 44 seconds remaining that would have put the Dream in front and Atlanta was unable to corral a defensive rebound at the other end leading to a free throw by Kelly Faris to extend the lead to three points.
The Dream had one more chance to tie but Ajavon's inbound pass was stolen by Jasmine Thomas ending the threat.
To former Atlanta players came back to haunt the Dream on Sunday. Alex Bentley led Connecticut with 17 points while Thomas added 13 points, six rebounds and seven steals. Gray went 3-3 from beyond-the-arc to finish with 14 while Kelsey Bone added 11 points to go along with five assists.
Sancho Lyttle led Atlanta with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Tiffany Hayes finished with 12 points but was just 3-10 from the field. McCoughtry also found her way into double figures with 10 but made just 4-13 attempts and was charged with six turnovers.
It is still early in the season but head coach Michael Cooper and Atlanta's front office has to be a bit concerned with the way the Dream have played in each of the first two games. There has been little to no cohesion offensively which has led to failed one-on-one attempts and plenty of turnovers. Atlanta shot just 36 percent in Friday's loss at New York. They made 37 percent of their attempts on Sunday.
Its easy to point to point guard play as a reason for their struggles, but so far they have lacked a clear direction offensively and have failed to get Lyttle or Erika de Souza involved on the offensive end of the floor. That has led to a lot of standing around and a lot of McCoughtry trying to put her head down and get to the basket against multiple defenders.
The Dream will enjoy three days off before hosting San Antonio on Thursday at Philips Arena. That will hopefully give them some time to work out some kinks and to try and come up with some answers.