Entering today’s game, the Atlanta Dream was in desperate need of a win after a tough stretch on the road losers of their last three games. The Sparks have won three straight since dropping a 72-68 decision at home to the Minnesota Lynx on June 21. The Dream gave away a late lead Tuesday against the Seattle Storm and lost their fourth straight game. The Sparks, on the other hand, celebrated an emotional 89-84 victory against the Dallas Wings on Tuesday. Down by 22 points in the third quarter, the Sparks turned up the heat and earned the win against the Wings. The Dream has lost six of their last eight games after opening the season 6-1.Beginning with last Saturday’s game at San Antonio, Atlanta will play six of nine games away from Philips Arena. Unfortunately, the Dream couldn’t overcome a competitive game today and dropped yet another contest on the road this afternoon.
Despite Atlanta Dream Guard Tiffany Hayes made her return to the lineup in a big way. She scored a season and career-high 32 points with 19 coming in the first half alone. Her efforts down the stretch in the fourth quarter helped the Dream make it a one-possession game. The Atlanta Dream went on an 8-2 run to cut the deficit down to three late in the fourth quarter, but ultimately fell short in their comeback effort against the Sparks as they lost 84-75 and dropped to 8-8 this season and the Sparks moved on to a league’s best 15-1 record. Nneka Ogwumike posted a career day as she scored 38 points, 11 rebounds, 5 blocks, 3 assists, and a steal. Also, she hit 13 of her 14 shots attempted in today’s contest. The Sparks held a 52-to-42 advantage on points in the paint over the Dream. Atlanta committed 16 turnovers in the game. Los Angeles shot 50.8% from the field in Thursday’s game. The Dream are now 0-3 when their opponent shoots at least 50% from the field. The Sparks are the second straight team to shoot 50% or better against the Dream.
In the first quarter, Atlanta and Los Angeles had a back and forth game and trading leads, the Dream lead 18-17 at the end of the first quarter. Candace Parker posted 8 points and Nneka Ogwumike posted 6 points for the Sparks and Angel Mccoughtry posted five points in the quarter and Elizabeth Williams had four for the Dream. In the second quarter, Tiffany Hayes had a solid quarter and Atlanta even took a 32-25 lead remaining in the half; however, the Sparks put together a 11-3 run and tied the game at 35 with Ogwumike put back layup shot with under a minute left; however, Angel Mccoughtry hit both of her free throws and the Atlanta Dream led 37-35 headed into the half. At the start of the third quarter, Atlanta would once again cruise out to a 43-37 lead after Layshia Clarendon free throws with 8:44 remaining in the quarter; afterwards, the game turned in the favor of the Sparks. Los Angeles went on a 13-4 run after Candace Parker’s lay-up gave the Sparks at 50-47 lead with 6:51 left. After Elizabeth Williams tied the game at 52-52 with 4:15 remaining, the Sparks put together yet another run and took a 62-54 going to the fourth quarter.
The Atlanta Dream went on an 8-2 run to cut the deficit down to three late in the fourth quarter, but ultimately fell short in their comeback effort against the Sparks. The Dream are 2-7 over their last nine game after opening the season with a 6-1 record. There were three Atlanta players that reached double-digits in points. Tiffany Hayes led the way with a career-high 32, Elizabeth Williams scored 15 points to go with 10 rebounds, and Layshia Clarendon added 12. Thursday’s loss snaps the Dream’s two-game winning streak against the Sparks. Atlanta still leads the overall series with an 11-5 record. Thursday’s defeat drops the Dream down to an 8-8 record. That puts them three games back of the first place New York Liberty and a half a game behind the Washington Mystics in the Eastern Conference Standings.
After a tough road trip, the Dream will return home for a three-game home stand which will begin this Sunday at 6 p.m. as the Dream host Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner and the Phoenix Mercury.