Dream beat Sparks in the battle of the #2 seeds

In Atlanta tonight, it was Dream 92, Sparks 82 in the battle of the two conference #2 seeds.

Game notes and quotes:

ATLANTA NOTES

Atlanta snapped a four-game losing streak while improving 15-13, including a 5-5 mark against teams from the Western Conference.

The Dream improved to 12-3 at Philips Arena, matching the franchise record for most home wins in a season (2009). All 12 wins have come by at least nine points.

Atlanta now leads the all-time series 8-4, and has won four straight against Los Angeles in Philips Arena. Last season in Atlanta, the Dream set a franchise record with a 33-point margin of victory against the Sparks (92-59).

The 92 points scored by the Dream were the most by the team since scoring 93 against San Antonio on June 30.

The Dream shot 52.3 percent from the field (34-of-65) and 91.7 percent from the free throw line (22-of-24).

Atlanta had a 25-8 edge in points off turnovers, and a 50-32 advantage in points in the paint. It marked the fifth time this season the Dream has scored at least 50 points in the paint.

Atlanta led by 11 at the end of the first quarter (25-14) and 16 points at halftime (48-32). It was the Dream’s largest halftime lead since Atlanta led Connecticut at the half, 40-20, on July 24.

All five Atlanta starters scored in double figures. It marked the first time this season the Dream has accomplished that feat.

Erika de Souza tied her career high with 27 points to lead the Dream, and added six rebounds and two assists. It was the third time in her career she has scored 27 points.

Jasmine Thomas matched her career highs in both points and rebounds, totaling 19 points and eight boards. Both career highs were initially set in 2011 while with Washington. She also added three assists and a steal.

Alex Bentley tied the team record for assists in a game with 11, and had her first career double-double by adding 10 points. She matched the team record for assists set by Kristin Haynie on July 5, 2008, and Nikki Teasley on June 26, 2009.

Angel McCoughtry scored 16 points and added four assists, three rebounds and three steals. She has scored at least 15 points in all 27 of her games.

Le’Coe Willingham scored a season-high 16 points, and added six rebounds and two assists. Her previous season high for points was seven on three occasions.

LOS ANGELES NOTES

· Los Angeles had a three-game winning streak snapped, falling to 21-9 overall, including a 9-2 mark against teams from the Eastern Conference.

· The Sparks are now 8-7 in road games this season.

· Los Angeles started the fourth quarter trailing 71-54, but opened the quarter on a 16-4 run to cut the deficit to 75-70. The Sparks, however, would get no closer.

· Nneka Ogwumike had her ninth double-double of the season, finishing with team highs of 17 points and 10 rebounds.

· Candace Parker reached double figures for the 23rd time in 27 games, totaling 16 points, nine rebounds and eight assists and three steals.

· Lindsey Harding finished in double figures for the 18th time this season, scoring 16 points with three assists.

· Kristi Toliver tied a career high with nine assists, and also reached double figures for the 22nd time with 12 points. Her previous career high for assists was nine on two occasions, including Aug. 6 at Connecticut.

POSTGAME QUOTES – SEPTEMBER 2, 2013

Atlanta Dream Head Coach Fred Williams

On difference between tonight’s game and Saturday’s game at Chicago…

“I think just being able to have a couple days of rest, and also getting the practice in and making some adjustments. I thought our energy levels were a lot higher tonight. We shot the ball pretty well.”

On Alex Bentley’s double-double…

“Having 11 assists, that says a lot for her and her teammates, and also to be able to get to the rim and score.”

On Jasmine Thomas’ performance…

“Yes, she really turned the corner with her quick speed. We just told her to remember the days she played in college when she would just move by people, and I just asked her to do that tonight.”

On concerns with foul trouble during the game…

“I played them through it. I didn’t want to change the rhythm of the game. They’re always going to play aggressive and so I told them that tonight is the night. If they were going to foul out, then this is going to be the night that it will happen.”

On getting every loose ball…

“The loose ball shows a lot of hustle. Also our players coming off the bench sparked us, too. Aneika Henry and Courtney Clements came off the bench and got some key steals and rebounds for us. Those things don’t show up on stats but it shows up in the locker room.”

On being more animated in the fourth quarter…

“We were just trying to match energy, both the energy I had on the sidelines and L.A’s energy. The players were able to step up and make key shots and steals.”

Atlanta Dream Guard Alex Bentley

On her overall performance…

“I just give it all to my teammates, they help me out. Armintie was talking to me and coaching me from the sideline, and she really helped me out tonight.

On getting her first double-double in the WNBA…

“This is my first one, so it feels good! Any way I can help my teammates win ball games, that’s my focus.”

On her strategy to drive in the lane…

“Coach chose both me and Jasmine Thomas. Anytime we have an open lane we can drive it in. We’re both fast, we’re both quick and we both make good decisions. So we’re driving and kicking it all night if we can.”

Atlanta Dream Guard-Forward Angel McCoughtry

On the importance of winning tonight…

“It’s an important win against a great team. Also, without our three best players, that shows that if we put our minds to it then we can beat anybody we want. We know we get a little tired, we get some bumps, but we just have to focus because it’s the playoffs now. We’re going to do what we can to be better at this point.”

Los Angeles Sparks Head Coach Carol Ross

Opening Statement…

“Fred had them ready to go. They came out with more punch and swagger then we did. We were playing off our back foot for most of the night. We had a little crack in the door; we just couldn’t get over the hump.”

On being down by just five at one point…

“Bottom line is they had 50 points in the paint and they had 25 points off of turnovers.”

On not losing many…

“We lost big and we win big, we are still growing and still learning”

On defense…

“It was terrible, it was awful. We weren’t physical. If you are not physical, you have to be fast and we were neither one of those things.”

On the loss…

“This time of year you don’t want to be losing much. It was disappointing but if you are going to lose I guess this is the time for it, before post-season. If we learn something and we can become something different from it, then we can take this. It’s not always if you win or lose, it’s how you lose and I’m not happy how we lost.”

On being in Atlanta…

“They are very good on their home court, their fans are very good and it’s not necessarily basketball whether or not you win the game, it’s the edge and they had it.”

Los Angeles Sparks Forward-Center Candace Parker

On the loss…

“At this point of the season it was hard, especially how they did it. They had us at 20 at one point. We have to get better, at this point of the season. I would think we would have solved the problems of coming out sluggish and not playing well in the first half and trying to throw a Hail Mary in the fourth quarter and try to come back from being down 17.”

On the aggressive rebounds…

“It’s been like that awhile. We haven’t been able to get defensive rebounds as well as we want to. Last time we played Atlanta, they killed us in defensive rebounds. It is definitely something we have to solve.”

On playing Minnesota next…

“They have the best record in the league right now; it’s that in itself that we have to come ready to the gym to play because if we don’t, we will get the same result.”

Los Angeles Sparks Guard Lindsey Harding

On coming back to Atlanta…

“It’s always good being back in Atlanta.”

On if being back in Atlanta effected her play…

“It’s just like playing any other team. I have played on other teams previously.”

On defense…

“We have to continue to play together. We scored enough points to win, but when you have a team scoring over 90 points, that’s really our lack of defense. They did a great job at attacking so we need to regroup and come together if we want to win a championship. We are in the position to do that, we just have to keep playing.”

On turnovers…

“We have to make better passes. A lot of our offense comes from our defense, and if we aren’t getting stops it slows the game down. We don’t want to go that slow, just take care of the ball and be more aggressive.”

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