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Dream inch closer to playoff spot with 91-87 win over Mercury

Angel McCoughtry finished with a game-high 27 points as the Atlanta Dream held off the Phoenix Mercury for a 91-87 win.

Angel Mccoughtry against the Los Angeles Sparks

The Atlanta Dream needed a bounce back performance after Sunday’s disappointing loss to Seattle. They jumped on Phoenix early and withstood a late run in a 91-87 win at Philips Arena. With the win, the Dream nudge back above the .500 mark for the season and inch closer to securing a playoff spot with just five games remaining in the WNBA regular season.

Atlanta didn’t waste any time getting off to a good start and quickly put the memory of Sunday’s loss behind them. The Dream led 27-20 at the end of the first quarter and took a 42-34 advantage at halftime. Phoenix kept things close in the second half thanks to the play of Diana Taurasi. A Taurasi three-pointer cut the lead to a single point with 1:04 remaining but Atlanta finished the game with a 7-4 jaunt to secure the win.

“Sometimes it takes a difficult loss, like the last game against Seattle, to turn things around,” Michael Cooper told reporters following the game. “Obviously, we want to go out and win every game we play but that game really let us know that we have to keep our focus and come and play with energy in every single game. When we are able to do that we are one of the best teams in this league.”

Cooper opted to adjust his starting lineup prior to Tuesday’s game. Bria Holmes got the start in place of Sancho Lyttle and responded scoring 18 points, six rebounds and five steals. Lyttle returned to the lineup in Sunday’s loss after a month absence due to a toe injury. She played 14 minutes off the bench on Tuesday.

“Bria has been the benefit of injuries, and although you don’t like it, sometimes that is a good thing,” Cooper said. “With Sancho being out it has given Bria a good chance to really show herself and a lot of that credit goes to Coach Thompson and working with her during the Olympic break. She was able to work on her mid-range game and is starting to feel comfortable.”

Angel McCoughtry scored 9 of here game-high 27 points in the fourth quarter to help hold Phoenix at bay. Tiffany Hayes added 14 including a huge three-point play in the game’s final moments. Elizabeth Williams added 12 points and five rebounds.

Taurasi led Phoenix with 23 points including four made three-pointers. Brittney Griner pitched in 21 while Candice Dupree added 19.

The Dream finished the game at 53 percent shooting and pounded the inside to the tune of 50 points in the paint.

Atlanta will now head west for a matchup against the Los Angeles Sparks on Thursday and a stop in Phoenix for a rematch with the Mercury on Sunday. They will return to Philips Arena next Tuesday to face Dallas.