The Atlanta Dream captured a statement win Thursday night with an 86-81 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks. It was Atlanta’s second victory over L.A. this season and showed that while their overall record might not be impressive, no team should take them lightly in a playoff matchup.
“I think it was a well-played game by us,” head coach Michael Cooper said after the game. “After the Olympic Break I think we've done a lot of positive things on the defensive end and the offensive end and to come here to LA and beat a very, very, very good basketball team shows we're on the right track and we're heading the right way.”
Angel McCoughtry led five Dream players in double figures with a game-high 32 points. McCoughtry finished 10-25 from the field and 9-10 from the free throw line. She also grabbed 11 rebounds.
Atlanta jumped out to a 26-14 start. The Sparks closed the gap in the second quarter but the Dream pushed the lead again in the third with a 26-16 advantage. Los Angeles rallied in the fourth but Atlanta was able to hold them off to capture the win.
Elizabeth Williams logged another double-double for the Dream with 15 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Layshia Clarendon had another solid performance as well finishing with 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
With the win, Atlanta improves to 16-14 on the season and moves back into fourth place in the WNBA Standings with a half game lead over the Chicago Sky. The Dream have four regular season games remaining and a Top 4 finish would give them a bye for the first round of the WNBA’s new playoff format. Atlanta wraps up their brief western trip on Sunday in Phoenix.
“We have to get into the playoffs,” Cooper said. “Three teams have clinched and we're at that moment now but this is a good win for us. We played a good Phoenix team back at home and now to come in and beat the Sparks and now we go back to Phoenix, we can solidify ourselves in these three wins but our defense is good. I think we did a good job of rebounding against a very athletic and talented team.”
After Sunday’s game in Phoenix, Atlanta will play their final two home games of the season against Washington and Dallas before wrapping up the regular season in Minnesota.