The Atlanta Dream defeated the Minnesota Lynx 82-73 for a seventh straight win Tuesday night in College Park. Before the game, Dream head coach Tanisha Wright described the remaining portion of the season as a reset, explaining that the team is moving forward and looking at their schedule as a clean slate. “Business as usual,” says Wright. Tonight’s game was anything but that.
The Dream start the first quarter right where they left off: with buckets. Back-to-back threes by Nia Coffey and Rhyne Howard start the offense, and Monique Billings, who starts for Cheyenne Parker, answers the call with two back-breaking shots that force an early Minnesota timeout. Minnesota struggles to keep on either side of the floor as the Dream swarm them defensively with deflections. The quarter ends with the Dream in firm command and Howard leading all scorers with 11 points.
Atlanta forced a turnover to start the second quarter but got into foul trouble early. Wright gave the officiating crew an earful as the team picked up its tenth foul. Eventually, AD Durr, a Douglasville native, broke through the noise with huge buckets, including multiple shots from beyond the arc. The Dream would feed off her energy and keep plugging away, hitting a season-high 12 three-point shots. To the surprise of everyone but Durr, she was the leading scorer, with 13 points as the Dream went up by 17 points at halftime.
The 3rd quarter started with Dream turnovers, but Coffey blocked a shot, then forced a Minnesota turnover, and assisted Billings as she cut to the basket for a layup. However, the Lynx do not go away quietly. With four minutes to play in the quarter, the lead was dwindling. Minnesota’s Napheesa Collier got any shot she wanted on her way to a game-high 23 points. The Dream shoot an abysmal 22% and only score 11 points during the quarter. Atlanta’s lead was shrunken to 10, 65-59, with a quarter to play in the game.
The fourth quarter was horrid for the Dream. With under six minutes to go their lead was just four points with their shooting down to a paltry 11%.
Atlanta was cold from nearly every spot on the floor as their once 22-point lead evaporated with every Minnesota basket. Finally, with under 3 minutes to go, Howard made a bucket that preceded a forced turnover on the other end of the floor. Coffey hit a much-needed shot from beyond the arc. Howard closed the game with a team-high 21 points as the Dream pick up a seventh straight game.
After the game, Wright reflected on what went wrong for the team despite winning. “In the third quarter, we lost our way a little bit on the offensive end and let it dictate us on the defensive end,” Wright explained. “We have to be more mature where when our shots aren’t falling, we can still count on our defense to get shots. Eventually, our shots will come back to us.”
The Dream travel to Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut to take on the Connecticut Sun Thursday, July 20th.