This game was indicative of the Atlanta Dream's volatile season with Angel McCoughtry. They wouldn't have been able to get this far without her, yet with the team in her hands the Dream were not able to advance to a third straight Eastern Conference Finals losing to the Indiana Fever 75-64 Tuesday, October 2 in Indianapolis.
In a season that has been high on drama, the Dream let go of first ever coach/general manager Marynell Meadors due to her inability to confront McCoughtry's non-injury related absences. After the departure of Meadors, new head coach/GM Fred Williams and the Dream ownership assessed if the second half of the season would be possible without McCoughtry. They opted to try and keep her on and weren't disappointed, ending the last ten games with a 7-3 record to lock in their fourth straight playoff appearance.
Fast forward to Game 3 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals. With the second half quickly winding down, the Dream are down 35-33 with 55 seconds left. McCoughtry takes a pass from Armintie Price up top and lobs an impossible three-pointer behind Price, an Indiana defender and a few feet away from the three point line. The Dream take their first lead since the beginning of the first quarter. After the Dream give their lead away down 39-36 with 19 seconds left in the half, McCoughtry calls for the ball and walks it up court. She plants her feet at the previous spot where she made her last three, winds down the clock and swishes the shot to end the half with the game knotted up 39-39.
I was in awe during the entire second half break. I thought "no way Angel" twice when she lobbed those lunatic three-point shots. With the game on McCoughtry's back, the Dream seemed to be in good hands, but then the second half rolled around. McCoughtry scored the first points with an easy layup tallying bucket number 16. Number 16 would be her last bucket of the game.
The troubles begin on the next shot. Scoring Atlanta's last 8 points, McCoughtry decides to test fate and takes another very long three-point shot. This reckless shot misses badly. With the officials loosely calling fouls on both sides, the Fever take advantage as they're now playing McCoughtry tight and tough. After her last bucket, McCoughtry went on to take errant shot after errant shot going a dismal 1-9 in the second half and 7-21 in the game.
McCoughtry's infamous temper was taking over as well. There isn't a stat for how many times a player throws her arms in the air, but McCoughtry would've dominated that category. She was upset the entire second half for the lack of calls against the Fever and the 4 personal fouls called against her, which included a technical after she slapped the ball out of Katie Douglas's hand during a scuffle on the floor near midcourt. Head coach Fred Williams immediately herded McCoughtry onto the bench. The game was unfolding at this point as the Fever went on to score 9 unanswered points putting them up 75-59 with 1:07 left in the game. No chance for the Dream to even attempt a rally.
To be fair, the Dream as a whole performed badly in the second half. Sancho Lyttle shot 5-15, Harding went 8-20 and the Dream as a team put up a pathetic 29-78 for the game. However, McCoughtry had taken over not just this game, but the Dream's entire season as they gambled by sticking with her despite the prolonged attitude problems that resulted in a suspension and her captain's title being stripped. The ownership are going to have a long offseason as they decide if owning the most talented player in the league outweighs the heavy baggage that comes with the essence of McCoughtry.
As a resident of the southeast, Charles McGregor has been a fan of the Dream since their inception.
- Sports & Recreation
- Angel McCoughtry