ATLANTA – Just like it did the past two seasons, the Atlanta Dream is playing its best basketball at just the right time.
Angel McCoughtry scored 23 points, Erika DeSouza had 20 and the Dream pulled away late to beat the Seattle Storm, 77-61, on Tuesday for its fifth win in six games.
“We’re finally meshing,” Armintie Price said. “It’s late in the season to do it. But the best time to do it.”
Lauren Jackson had 14 points and nine rebounds and Camille Little added 13 points and eight boards for the Storm (13-15), which has already secured its WNBA-record ninth consecutive playoff berth.
Sancho Lyttle scored 13 points and Price had 10 for the Dream (17-14), which is firmly in third place in the Eastern Conference but haven’t officially clinched a playoff berth yet.
“The team shared the basketball again,” Atlanta coach Fred Williams said. “It’s starting to come for us. We want to play that kind of basketball and play well.”
Seattle pulled to 55-54 on a 3-pointer by Sue Bird early in the fourth quarter. However, Atlanta went on a 13-0 run to regain control and finished with a 22-7 spurt.
The Dream was swept by the Storm in three games in the WNBA Finals in 2010, but has won all four regular-season meetings since.
“We’ve got to be physically and mentally tougher if we’re going to be in a situation to win a championship,” said Seattle coach Brian Agler, who wasn’t happy with his team’s 21 turnovers. “We gave it to them 16 times (on steals), and they are going to go down there and shoot layups.”
Trailing by 16 points early in the second half, Seattle went on a 19-6 run to pull to 49-46 on a three-point play by Jackson with 2:13 left in the third quarter. The Storm trailed 53-49 going into the final period as Jackson had 10 points in the period and Little scored nine.
“We had an opportunity,” Agler said. “We worked ourselves back in the game in the third quarter.”
But a missed layup prevented the Storm from taking the lead, and the Dream went on a 13-point run, with all five players scoring.
“We’re trying to get our chemistry going,” Lyttle said. “Hopefully this will take us over to the playoffs.”
McCoughtry, who didn’t attempt a shot in the first quarter, was 6 for 6 from the floor and had 14 points in the second quarter as Atlanta took a 37-25 halftime lead.
Atlanta had 20 assists on 29 baskets and scored 21 points on fastbreaks. Lindsey Harding and Tiffany Hayes each had five assists.