DREAM BEAT: Atlanta bests Taurasi-less Mercury to extend win streak

After a second half rally against the Los Angeles Sparks Sunday afternoon, head coach Marynell Meadors laughed that she should start calling her team "the cardiac kids." Apparently, the name stuck as the Atlanta Dream (12-4) rallied from yet another second-half deficit to beat the defending WNBA champion Phoenix Mercury (5-10) by a score of 94-88. The Mercury led at one point by 14 points, but, in typical Dream fashion, Atlanta played a fantastic second half forcing numerous Mercury turnovers and dominating inside the paint. Center Alison Bales hit a field goal from the top of the key to give the Dream an 80-78 lead with 8:08 left in the game. The shot gave Atlanta the lead for the first time since early in the first quarter. Bales’ field goal came during a 9-0 Atlanta run in the fourth quarter.

The formula seems to be the same for the Dream as of late, play sluggish in the first half, dominate and win in the second half. The Mercury lost to the Dream for the second time this season. Atlanta remains in first place of the Eastern Conference and continues a four-game unbeaten streak.

The play from the Atlanta bench remains the pivotal aspect in the Dream’s second half comebacks. The only difference in tonight’s game is that the bench dominated more than the starting five for Atlanta. Atlanta’s bench players accounted for half of the Dream’s 97 points. Center Alison Bales had a career-high 12 points and Yelena Leuchanka surpassed Bales with 13 points, also her career high. Kelly Miller had nine points, and Armintie Price followed up her great game against L.A. with 13 points and six assists.

"It’s the balance and the depth," explained head coach Meadors. "If somebody’s not playing well and not producing what they need to produce, then we got people here sitting, waiting to have their chance."

The bench players played more minutes than most of the Dream’s regular starters and easily controlled the game in the second half.

"Our starters do an excellent job and I think that our bench does a really good job when they need out support," said Bales following the game. "It’s always a team effort and that’s what makes us a really good team."

The Dream are not just a good team, they are the best according to the Eastern Conference standings.

Phoenix played without all-star Diana Taurasi who has a bruised back. Atlanta had six players in double digits and have won the past four games straight. The Dream looks to keep their home winning streak alive Thursday night against the Minnesota Lynx. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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