ATLANTA – Just like they did the past two seasons, the Atlanta Dream are playing their 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 for their fifth win in six games Tuesday night.
“We’re finally meshing,” Armintie Price said. “It’s late in the season to do it. But the best time to do it.”
Sancho Lyttle scored 13 points and Price had 10 for the Dream (17-14), who are firmly in third place in the Eastern Conference but haven’t officially clinched a playoff berth yet.
“The team shared the basketball again,” 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 were swept by the Storm in three games in the WNBA finals in 2010, but have won the 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 Angler, who wasn’t happy with the Storm’s 21 turnovers. “We gave it to them 16 times (on steals) and they are going to go down there and shoot layups.”
Lauren Jackson had 14 points and nine rebounds and Camille Little added 13 points and eight boards for the Storm (13-15), who have already secured their WNBA-record ninth consecutive playoff berth.
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,” Angler 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 their 13-point run, with all five players scoring.
McCoughtry, the WNBA’s leading scorer, has been coming off the bench since missing two games for personal reasons and then serving a two-game team suspension.