Dream holds league’s best record

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

Last week, the Atlanta Dream held the best record in the WNBA along with Chicago; this week, the Dream holds that distinction alone. Atlanta improved to 6-1 with two big home victories over Seattle and Chicago over the weekend.

The Dream stopped the Storm with a tremendous defensive effort, holding Seattle to just 59 points and an incredible four points in the third quarter. Angel McCoughtry seemed to be everywhere, as the star forward poured in a game-high 23 points. McCoughtry was aggressive on both ends of the floor, grabbing nine rebounds, five steals and adding seven assists. It was an overall great effort from the Dream’s top scorer.

Again on Sunday, defense was the key to victory in an 88-74 win over Chicago, and again McCoughtry was the leader. No. 35 scored 23 points and added six rebounds, three steals and four blocks against one of the top rookie forwards in Elena Delle Donne. Tiffany Hayes came off the bench to score 16 points for the Dream. The win over Chicago was big because the Sky will be in contention for the top spot in the Eastern Conference this year along with Atlanta. Angel McCoughtry and crew are well aware of the competition that Chicago poses.

“We’re going to have battles with them all season, but we got the job done this time,” McCoughtry told the AP. “With us, it’s our defense that gets us going.”

 

BROKEN RECORD …

Each week that goes by seems the same for the Dream and their star player Angel McCoughtry. For the ninth time in her career and second time this season, McCoughtry was named WNBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week. The forward averaged 23 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, four steals and 2.5 blocks per game in leading Atlanta to a 2-0 record last week. McCoughtry looks like the best player on the floor both offensively and defensively and at every critical juncture of the game. She has a great ability to box out for rebounds, even when there are two players from the opposing team in her way. Atlanta has arguably the best all-around player in the WNBA today. For most fans, it really isn’t much of an argument: McCoughtry is the best.

 

ROSTER BOOST …

On Tuesday, the Dream signed free agent center Ruth Riley. The 12-year veteran will fill the void left by center Sancho Lyttle, while she plays in Spain because of a prior commitment. Lyttle will miss six games on the Dream schedule. Riley was a two-time WNBA Champion with the Detroit Shock and was the 2003 WNBA Finals MVP. The 33-year old was also an Olympic Gold Medalist for Team USA in 2004 and a WNBA All-Star in 2005. Riley was the fifth overall pick back in 2001 by the Miami Sol. She comes to Atlanta with experience and a will to win. “I’m extremely excited to join the Dream,” Riley told the team website. “They are off to great start and it’s awesome to be joining such a good team. I’ve been blessed to be on a few championship teams in the past, and I look forward to bringing that experience to Atlanta. I hope to help bring a championship to the Dream as well.”

 

UPCOMING ACTION …

After notching two more wins at home last week, the Dream will take the league’s best record into Connecticut on Sunday for an afternoon tilt with the Sun. This will be the first of five matchups with Connecticut this season for Atlanta. The Dream was 1-3 against the Sun in 2012. Connecticut comes into Sunday’s game with a 2-5 record and a two-game losing streak.

The Sun is fifth in the Eastern Conference, but still can be dangerous at times with stars like third-year center Tina Charles and veteran guard Kara Lawson. Charles ranks eighth in the WNBA in scoring with 18.6 points per game. Lawson is one of the top passers in the league and she is 10th in the WNBA with 4.2 assists per game. It will be interesting to see how center Ruth Riley meshes with her new Dream teammates. If she can conjure up the magic of seasons past, Atlanta could be on the way to a very special season.

 

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