McCoughtry on fire

Sonny Kennedy

There have been times this season when the Dream have played like the two-time defending Eastern Conference champions, and there have been times when they have looked very average. Atlanta is 6-7 through 13 goes and trail first-place Connecticut by 3.5 games in the Eastern Conference Standings. Inconsistency has been the theme of the 2012 season, but this week has provided Dream fans with the reminder that this is still a championship squad.

BIG WIN …

On Tuesday, the Dream picked up a huge 70-58 victory against Indiana. The first quarter looked like the “very average” Atlanta Dream, as they trailed 18-12. The team then responded with its best quarter of the season and ended the first half on a 25-8 run.

Despite playing with a sore left knee, forward Angel McCoughtry was able to lead Atlanta with 22 points in 29 minutes. McCoughtry told the AP that her knee is painful, but it is healing.

“It takes a little time to recover, but it’s getting there,” she said. “I just want to get my explosiveness back and things like that so I can get up and down the floor. I look like a grandma out there a little bit.”

The Dream beat Indiana for the first time in three meetings this season. Atlanta’s defense stifled last year’s league MVP Tamika Catchings and held her to just 2-for-9 shooting and eight points.

“We basically know what she (Catchings) wants to do with the ball when she catches it,” Atlanta rookie center Aneika Henry told the AP. “She wants to penetrate and go hard to the basket, so we just doubled down on her and helped out with Sancho on her and stuff like that.”

None of the Fever’s players scored in double figures as the Dream held Indiana to just 30 percent shooting on the day. Point guard Lindsey Harding did not start this game, but came off the bench to contribute five assists and two blocks. Forward Catherine Kraayefeld led the team with 10 rebounds and three blocks, as Atlanta caused 19 Indiana turnovers.

If Atlanta can play a total game like the one against the Fever on Tuesday afternoon, the team will be on its way to another play- off run. However, the Dream have yet to put together a three-game win streak so far this season. They will have a chance to do that in the next game on Friday at Tulsa.

ANGEL’S HOT …

This has been a special season so far for the 25-year-old McCoughtry. The third-year star is leading the WNBA in points per game with 22.6. McCoughtry should stay in the running for league MVP as long as the Dream win games and she stays healthy. The 6-foot-1 forward missed two games with a sprained knee, but returned to lead the Dream to two important wins this week. The knee is still giving her trouble, but it has not slowed her down.

“I’m just getting old,” she jokingly told the AP. “I’m not 18, 19 like I used to be, so things at 25 are a little different now.”

The Atlanta Dream star will finish the summer by competing in the Olympics in London and was recently nominated for an ESPY.

ON THE DOCKET …

Atlanta will vie for its first three-game winning streak of the season when they go on the road against the Tulsa Shock. The Shock have the worst record in the league at 2-11 and should provide Atlanta with a great shot to add to its winning streak.

This will be the first regular-season matchup with the Shock. The Dream took a 91-89 win over Tulsa in the preseason. On Sunday, the Dream will travel to Chicago for the sec- ond game against the Sky this season. Chicago took the first contest at Philips Arena 94-92 in overtime. A last-second three-point heave by Chicago’s Epiphanny Price sent the game into overtime and Atlanta never recovered.

The Dream must keep center Sylvia Fowles in check if they want to win in Chicago. Fowles put up 20 points and 19 rebounds in the first matchup. She averages 19 points and 13 rebounds per game. The two games this weekend are the first two on a season-long eight-game road trip.

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