The Atlanta Dream saw a five-game home winning streak end on Sunday in emphatic fashion with a 91-82 loss to the Seattle Storm. Don’t let the final margin of victory fool you, this game over early with the Storm building a 26-point lead at one point.
Things started out well enough for Atlanta. Sancho Lyttle returned from a toe injury to make her first start in over a month. The Dream hit their first four shot attempts and led 11-6. Atlanta made just one of their final 14 field goal attempts in the first quarter and trailed 21-17 at the end of the period.
“In this league it is very interesting, unlike the NBA, usually teams do well after getting some time off,” Michael Cooper said following the game. “I think the last four or five days benefited us in rest purposes. Being able to get Sancho [Lyttle] back as well as being able to develop our defense and to be able to get our offense back into the flow of things was important. This game was a tough one to lose. You’ve got to come play every single game.”
Atlanta came into the game well rested having not played since August 28. However, they looked a step slow and a bit lethargic before mounting a comeback late.
Atlanta shot just 33 percent in the first half but still found themselves in the game trailing 41-33 at the intermission. Things further unraveled in the third as Seattle outscored the Dream 32-16 in the period and pushed the lead to as many as 24.
“Seattle is a team that a lot of people say aren’t very good because they don’t have enough depth or talent, but the one thing that the team has is that the come and compete and they play hard,” Cooper added. “We matched that effort for the first two or three minutes of the game. Then it fell off. When you don’t have effort and energy it messes up your pick-and-roll coverages, ability to rebound, run in transition and do what we do best. You have to give a lot of credit to Seattle and they brought their A-Game.”
Atlanta outscored the Storm 33-18 in the fourth including a 12-0 run to cut the deficit back to just nine points, but the Dream never really threatened and Seattle never lost control of the game.
The loss spoils a very good game by Angel McCoughtry who finished with a game-high 32 points on 12 of 17 shooting. Tiffany Hayes added 20 but no other Dream finished in double figures. Lyttle played 32 minutes and finished with eight points and three rebounds.
Rookie forward Breanna Stewart set the tone early for the Storm and finished with 23 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Sue Bird also finished with 23 points including three made three-pointers.
The loss drops the Dream to 14-14 on the season and out of the Top 4 in the WNBA standings. Atlanta has just a 2.5 game lead over eighth place Seattle which is significant considering that four of the Dream’s final six games will be played against teams currently in the playoff picture.
Atlanta returns to action on Tuesday when they face the Phoenix Mercury at Philips Arena.