Dream dominate final period to beat Lynx
ATLANTA — Fred Williams says he’s been keeping an eye on Tiffany Hayes’ minutes since she returned from knee surgery.
Well, sort of.
“I’ve been watching them go up,” the Dream coach said with a smile.
Hayes scored 23 points and the Atlanta Dream recovered after blowing a 17-point lead in the first half and rallied to beat the Minnesota Lynx 88-75 on Tuesday night.
Hayes matched her career high for the second straight game.
Minnesota went almost eight minutes without a field goal in the final period as Atlanta recovered from its third-quarter scoring problems to reclaim the lead. After being outscored 29-14 in the third period, the Dream won the final period 22-5.
WNBA scoring leader Angel McCoughtry had 19 points and Erika de Souza added 16 points and 16 rebounds as Atlanta (14-9) scored the first 10 points of the fourth quarter and went on to its third straight win — all at home.
Maya Moore shot 4 for 5 on 3-pointers and led Minnesota with 23 points, including none in the final period. Moore said poor defense was Minnesota’s biggest problem.
“We just weren’t disciplined with containing them 1-on-1,” Moore said. “They did a good job of finishing. Our bad offense gave them transition points and against Atlanta you can’t afford to turn the ball over as many times as we did, because they’re really good at exploiting that.”
Minnesota had eight of its 18 turnovers in the final period.
Rebekkah Brunson had 16 points and 14 rebounds and Seimone Augustus added 14 points for the Lynx (18-7), who began the night one-half game ahead of Los Angeles for the Western Conference lead.
Minnesota used its big third quarter to take a 70-66 lead. The Dream opened the fourth with five straight baskets to reclaim the advantage.
Hayes, playing in her fifth game since returning from the arthroscopic surgery to repair torn meniscus in her left knee, limped off the court late in the third period but returned to the game.
“I landed on it kind of, a little bit,” Hayes said. “It did scare me a little bit because I felt some pain.
“I know I’m supposed to be watching it, being careful, but I just can’t help it. That’s how I am. That’s how I play. I can’t just turn it off because I’m injured. I’m just going to keep playing through it.”
Minnesota was scoreless in the final period until Janel McCarville made 1 of 2 free throws with 5:30 remaining. The Lynx missed their first 11 shots from the field in the period and trailed 86-71 before Devereaux Peters ended the drought with 2:22 remaining.
“That’s unheard of as far as those players,” Williams said of the long field-goal drought. “That’s saying something.”
Atlanta led 24-20 early in the second quarter before pulling away with the 13-0 run. An offensive rebound and basket by de Souza, followed by a steal and two free throws by McCoughtry, started the run. Hayes scored at the end of the run to give Atlanta a 37-20 lead.
Moore’s third 3-pointer, from at least 25 feet, came with only 3.8 seconds remaining in the first half. The Dream had a quick answer when Hayes launched an even longer 3 to beat the buzzer. Officials reviewed video to confirm there was time remaining on the clock when Hayes, only a few feet inside the midcourt line, took the shot to give Atlanta a 52-41 halftime lead.
Notes: Grammy-winning R&B singer Usher had a front-row seat. Screams were heard from the Dream locker room when Usher made a postgame visit. ... Atlanta Hawks teammates Lou Williams and Jeff Teague also had courtside seats. ... Former Hawks forward Josh Smith, now with the Pistons, heard a few boos when he was shown on the video board. ... De Souza posted her 11th double-double.